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CIO and CTO: Who Gets a Seat at the Table?

CIO and CTO: Who Gets a Seat at the Table?

CIO vs CTOThe cloud is here to stay, but with this comes a big question that must be answered: Will the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Technology Officer, or both be the leader that takes control of technology and information strategy within the organization?

A Brief Comparison: CIO vs. CTO

But before we look to answer this question, let’s get a brief overview on how the roles compare.

Chief Information Officer (CIO) Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Chief Information Officer (CIO) is a job title commonly given to the person in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals (SearchCIO.Techtarget.com).Key Responsibilities

  • Help the business reach its goals (e.g., increase revenues and decrease costs)
  • Bridge the gap between IT and the business through communication
  • Encourage innovation to help the business visualize what is possible but they never anticipated
  • Establish IT policies and enterprise architecture standards in collaboration with business unit execs
  • Manage IT vendors, act as a broker of external and cloud services, and establish/track/report overall IT performance metrics
  • Ensure appropriate governance and compliance of IT with business unit involvement
  • Negotiate, justify and manage the IT budget to accomplish overall objectives
A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is the individual within an organization who has ultimate responsibility for all technology policy and related matters such as research and development (R&D) (SearchCIO.Techtarget.com).Key Responsibilities

  • Identify opportunities and risks for the business.
  • Manage research and development (R&D).
  • Monitor technology and social trends that could impact the company.
  • Participate in management decisions about corporate governance.
  • Communicate the company’s technology strategy to partners, management, investors and employees.
  • Maintain current information about technology standards and compliance regulations


Will the CIO Bow to the CTO?

A recent article in IT Business Edge believes that there isn’t room for two technologists at the executive table.

“Cloud providers will take the traditional CIO job over by taking over the day-to-day operations, leaving the CIO to either elevate or diminish. What happens depends on two things: the structure of the company, and the personality of the CIO. Companies that value the role of IT will [provide] the CIO with [the] drive to elevate, while the other enterprises will allow them to descend or replace them with a cloud vendor manager.”

Key Drivers behind This Shift

The person interviewed, Marc Malizia, co-founder and CTO at RKON Technologies, has watched the CTO role shift from mapping technology to business strategy, to finding cloud providers to address business strategy.

Why this shift, why now? Simply said by Malizia, the CTO is more likely to embrace the cloud.

“With the emergence of cloud computing, CTOs should be leading the charge toward the cloud and cloud services, as these technologies are key components of the digital transformation sought by most companies. Today, CTOs have a chest of tools at their disposal to provide agility and scalability to their corporate IT department, empowering them to address the ever-changing demands of the business.”

This doesn’t mean that CIOs should start updating their resumes. With the right mentality and the right business strategy, the CIO may not only be able to retain but elevate his or her role within an organization.

Will You be Able to Elevate Your Role?

In less technology-focused organizations, who only believe that IT is there to “keep the lights on,” the CIO may be the first to be replaced by the CTO—as well as two lower level managers to replace him or her.

Yet in the technology-focused organizations, the CIO has a unique opportunity to elevate his or her role from ‘technology doer’ to ‘strategic contributor.’

The CIO needs to light the way forward with innovative ideas and actionable plans that allow them to show short-term results, as well as long-term.

It comes down to the ability of the CIO to deliver business outcomes and enterprise resiliency. Doing so will allow the CIO to find their rightful seat in top management, and secure their future in the enterprise.

In a recent Accenture Study, Go Live on Day One: The Path to Success for a New CIO, the firm shared a short infographic for CIOs looking to gain or retain a seat at the table:

Elevating Your Role: A Brief Guide to CIO Advisory Services

We’ve been talking about how the CIO can elevate his or her role in a technology driven organization. The role is constantly changing, evolving, and unless you evolve with it, you could be replaced. Learn how you can solidify your seat at the table with our whitepaper, a Guide to CIO Advisory Services.


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