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Chief technology officer

chief technology officer job description, chief technology officer
A chief technology officer CTO, sometimes known as a chief technical officer, is an executive-level position in a company or other entity whose occupation is focused on scientific and technological issues within an organization

Contents

  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Comparisons to similarly titled roles
    • 21 Chief information officer CIO
    • 22 Chief science officer CSO
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 Further reading

Overview

The role became prominent with the ascent of the information technology IT industry, but has since become prevalent in technology-based industries of all types—including computer based technologies such as game developer, e-commerce, and social networking service and other/non-computer-focused technology such as biotech/pharma, defense, and automotive In non-technical organizations as a corporate officer position, the CTO typically reports directly to the chief information officer CIO and is primarily concerned with long-term and "big picture" issues while still having deep technical knowledge of the relevant field In technology-focused organizations, the CIO and CTO positions can be at the same level, with the CIO focused on the information technology and the CTO focused on the core company and other supporting technologies

Depending on company structure and hierarchy, there may also be positions such as director of R&D and vice president of engineering whom the CTO interacts with or oversees The CTO also needs a working familiarity with regulatory eg US Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, as applicable and intellectual property IP issues eg patents, trade secrets, license contracts, and an ability to interface with legal counsel to incorporate those considerations into strategic planning and inter-company negotiations

In many older industries whose existence may predate IT automation such as manufacturing, shipping or banking, an executive role of the CTO would often arise out of the process of automating existing activities; in these cases, any CTO-like role would only emerge if and when efforts would be made to develop truly novel technologies either for facilitating internal operations or for enhancing products/services being provided, perhaps through "intrapreneuring"

Comparisons to similarly titled roles

Chief information officer CIO

The focus of a CTO may be contrasted with that of a chief information officer CIO A CIO is likely to solve organizational problems through acquiring and adapting existing technologies especially those of an IT nature, whereas a CTO principally oversees development of new technologies of various types Many large companies have both positions

Another major distinction is between technologies that a firm seeks to actually develop to commercialize itself vs technologies that support or enable a firm to carry out its ongoing operations A CTO is focused on technology integral to products being sold to customers or clients, while a CIO is a more internally oriented position focused on technology needed for running the company and in IT fields, for maintaining foundational software platforms for any new applications Accordingly, a CTO is more likely to be integrally involved with formulating intellectual property IP strategies and exploiting proprietary technologies

In an enterprise whose primary technology matters are addressable by ready-made technologies which, by definition, is not the case for any companies whose very purpose is to develop new technologies, a CIO might be the primary officer overseeing technology issues at the executive level In an enterprise whose primary technology concerns do involve developing or marketing new technologies, a CTO is more likely to be the primary representative of these concerns at the executive level

Chief science officer CSO

In some organizations, the CTO may also hold the chief science officer CSO title Alternatively, a company could have one or the other, or both occupied by separate people Often, a CSO exists in heavily research-oriented companies, while a CTO exists in product-development-focused companies The typical category of research and development that exists in many science and technology companies could be led by either post, depending on which area is the organization's primary focus

A CSO almost always has a basic/pure science background eg biology, physics, etc and an advanced degree in such, whereas a CTO often has a background in engineering or applied science—and possibly business development

See also

  • Chief innovation officer CIO

References

  1. ^ Smith, R D 2003 "The Chief Technology Officer: Strategic responsibilities and relationships"

Further reading

  • Pratt, Mary K "The CTO: IT's Chameleon", Computerworldcom, 22 January 2007
  • Berray, Tom & Sampath, Raj 2002 "The Role of the CTO, four models for success"
  • Medcof, John W and Yousofpourfard, Haniyeh 2006 "The CTO and Organizational Power and Influence", International Association for Management of Technology

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