The CTO and the CIO

From social media accounts to new product development, your global enterprise, funded startup, or micro business needs to use technology strategically to boost customer loyalty, efficiency, and profits. Chief information officers and chief technology officers are typically the ones in charge of this strategy, guiding expansion along these lines at your organization. But how are these two executive roles different, and what should you look for when you’re hiring a CTO or CIO?


Who Is a CIO?

Also known as chief digital information officer or information technology director, a chief information officer supports organizational goals by focusing on information technology. Through this senior role, a CIO manages mission-critical computer systems and labor, including help desks and service delivery, working to improve the company’s bottom line.


Who Is a CTO?

Much like a CIO, a chief technology officer — also known as a chief technical officer or chief technologist — also handles technological issues at a company, implementing, managing, and evaluating these resources and how they affect customers. In this senior role, a CTO mostly oversees external business processes and uses technology to improve them.


Differences Between a CIO and CTO

The main difference between a CIO and CTO is the focus of each role. While a chief information officer works to improve processes inside the company, a chief technology officer looks outward, using technology to improve products that are built for customers. 

CTOs mostly develop relationships with clients, customers, and external contacts, while CIOs serve as a bridge between your company’s in-house teams and IT experts.

Both roles aim to boost a company’s profitability and generate income. CIOs focus on the bottom line or net income, while CTOs increase your top line or gross revenue.


When Does a Company Need a CIO or a CTO?

You’ll likely have to hire a chief information officer when you need someone who can oversee your company’s IT department and everyday business processes. Hiring a chief technology officer usually happens when a company needs someone who can enhance the organization’s products for customers and develop an overall technology strategy. If you’re looking to fill these senior roles at your company, Ghost Mountain can help you with your executive search. 


What Makes a Good CIO?

Chief information officers typically have a business degree because they work to address internal organizational problems. While many CIOs have advanced degrees in information technology, some have non-technical backgrounds.

Generally speaking, a good CIO can quickly spot how the right technical solutions bring value to your business. They’re also: 

  • Cheerleaders for in-house digital processes. They help all departments see the value in adopting solutions that transform your business.
  • Disruptors. They drive business strategy with data analytics.
  • Empathetic leaders. They fully understand both IT and business perspectives.


What Makes a Good CTO? 

Chief technology officers are innovators and risk-takers. They ensure that the company’s technology development gives the overall organization a competitive advantage, so having a CTO with an MBA or other formal business training helps. If the company produces technology, CTOs are usually responsible for research and development, so having a CTO with a degree in engineering or computer science, for example, also helps.

Good CTOs are generally:

  • Success-driven, self-motivated visionary leaders. They predict where their company and sector will be within a specific time. By monitoring trends, they prepare their organization with technology that helps them meet consumer demand.
  • Excellent communicators. They easily translate technical information into business language for different audiences.
  • Entrepreneurial. CTOs understand the organization’s objectives and help it stay competitive. They disrupt markets by creating technology-driven business models.
  • Thought leaders and product experts. CTOs respond to market opportunities by developing ideas into real working products, and they actively promote new products through speaking engagements, publications, and interviews.
  • Open-minded mentors. CTOs invite diverse input from developers, decision scientists, QA innovators, and other experts. While patiently synergizing different viewpoints, they authoritatively resolve disputes.


Develop Your Own Sustainable Leadership Pipeline

Both CTOs and CIOs are technology experts and thought leaders who capitalize on market trends, so your business achieves its goals. Ghost Mountain will optimize your executive search, helping you find a match who ignites your team and moves your company to greater profitability.

Contact Ghost Mountain today to discuss your executive hiring needs or develop effective succession planning strategies that work for you.

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