Tech Academy: What is a CTO?

CEO. CFO. CMO. COO. CXO. No, you’re not looking at a text message from your teenager. These are just a few of the CO acronyms found in the business world. While some of these titles may seem familiar, others can leave a small business owner scratching his head. One commonly confusing position is the CTO (Chief Technology Officer). To help you understand this important role within a company, today’s tech academy is going to take a deeper look at the role and functions of this job.

Where did the role of CTO come from?

What is a CTO? Well, the CTO actually evolved out of the research and development labs of the 1950s and 60s. Originally the director of these labs was tasked with the research and discovery of new technology (such as new fangled contraption called the computer). While connected to a specific company, the director had no impact on the strategy or development of the business. In the 1980s, the directors were brought into the leadership of these different companies to help address the growing impact of technology in the business world. The role morphed from “researcher” into an important and integral part of business leadership. Other titles for this position included CIO (Chief Information Officer) and VP of Technology.

Are CTOs just in charge of making sure my technology works?

This is a common misconception among small business owners. Yes, a part of the CTO role is to ensure that the technology currently used by the company is in proper working order. The CTO needs to make sure that any problems are fixed and work to avoid future problems by providing proper preventative maintenance work. However, this is not the only thing that a CTO does. One major role of CTO is to make sure that the business invests in the best technology for their industry. The CTO should be up-to-date on the newest programs, software, and devices. He should be able to discern which ones are actually helpful and which are a waste of the company’s money. Through his recommendations, the CTO is responsible for finding and acquiring the technology that will increase the success of the business. The third biggest role of the CTO is brainstorming how technology can create options and opportunities for the company. This includes new types of business and new customers. The CTO should be one of the innovative and creative minds within the company

Where are CTO’s used?

CTO’s are used in everything from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. The growing importance of a CTO is demonstrated by the fact that even the government has its own CTO. To learn more about how and when you should hire a CTO for your small business, stay tuned for our next post!