What is a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)? (2023)

What is a CTO or Chief Technology Officer and what do they actually do?

What is a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)? (1)

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a C-level executive position associated with leading, managing and directing all external product or service-based technology innovations to improve the company's revenue. Also known as the Chief Technical Officer, with the rise of information technology and the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO), the CTO has become a new role required for the strategic planning of customer-facing technology products and services. It is important to note that a Chief Technology Officer can work in both computer-related and non-computer-related industries, such as military organizations, healthcare/biotech companies, social and humanitarian organizations, etc. That said, as the chief technology officer of an organization, the CTO is typically responsible for overseeing entire technology departments, working with—or reporting to—the CIO, working with the Chief Innovation Officer (CINO), the head of R&D ( R&D) or the management of the R&D manager, etc.

As a C-level strategist, the Chief Technology Officer acts as the Chief Technology Officer and also plays an important role in setting the direction of a company as it designs future models, workflows, technologies and innovations that will help the company achieve its goals. Such strategies are based on deep understanding of technology, market, engineering and corporate finance. Regarding the latter, the CTO also works closely with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to plan and execute budgets and financial policies for products/services that will help improve business results.

First and foremost, the CTO's role is a leadership role

The Chief Technology Officer is one of the highest positions in any company and includes one of the titles associated with the C-suite of executives. This suite typically includes the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Data Officer and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) etc., which entails management positions. Leadership typically involves setting long-term goals and strategizing future plans based on current data, trends and markets. It also includes understanding how to innovate, implement strategic differentiators, and how to look beyond the short-term goals of increasing sales (revenue) to also focus on improving business results (net income).

(Video) How to Become a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

This requires more than management, it requires leadership

Like a top executive in the C-suite, CTOs manage operations, oversee project managers, and decide what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Additionally, as previously mentioned, engineering and R&D managers often report to CTOs, so a CTO is a C-level manager. While management often focuses on minimizing risk, delegating tasks, and achieving short-term goals that directly affect an organization's results, C-level executive functions also focus on leadership. Thus, an effective Chief Technology Officer should exercise hands-on leadership that will help lead a business and develop, plan and implement new business strategies that can help a business grow into the future. While management is more closely associated with day-to-day operations and workflows, management is essentially associated with long-term growth and future innovation through strategic planning and new ideas.

What is the job description of a typical Chief Technology Officer?

As C-level technologists, Chief Technology Officers often have computer science backgrounds and must have in-depth knowledge of engineering, information systems and information technology. In addition, CTOs are strategists, managers and business leaders, so they need a lot of knowledge in finance, different industries/markets, project management and business management. To this end, CTO candidates often have significant Business/Management knowledge and experience, often holding a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Management degree.

A typical CTO job description will include several common factors:

  • Management of engineers, technicians and junior department heads/managers. It also includes project, program and product design and development management.
  • Management of R&D and engineering departments, including the ability to innovate and create new approaches to solving common problems.
  • Strategic technology policy planning and future technology plans.
  • Creation and development of new technological systems related to products and services.
  • Strategic planning and implementation of IT technologies and systems that should be used to improve the effectiveness of products and/or services.

Basically, the role of CTO is one of leadership, management and strategic planning, all with a focus on technology and customer products/services.

(Video) What it takes to be a good Chief Technology Officer (CTO) | Cyber Work Podcast

What are the responsibilities of the CTO?

When defining the responsibilities of a CTO, it is important to note that there is often little difference between the duties of a CTO in a non-technology company and the duties of a CTO in a technology-based company. For example, the CTO in a non-tech company often reports to the CIO, while in a technology-based company these two C-level positions are often at the same level, with the CIO internally focusing on internal processes and the CTO. externally focused on product/service related technology.

The CTO is responsible for many key elements of an organization's technology related to a company's products, services, and goals to meet customer needs. This includes planning the use of specific technologies and systems directly related to increasing the efficiency of the company's products/services, all related to defining the technologies to be developed as unique IP/products. In addition to managing the various technology departments of an organization (related to products/services or business goals), the CTO may also be responsible for managing an organization's overall network of IT systems, ultimately affecting the quality of the products produced products. used by end users.

CTOs are also tasked with making strategic decisions about which technologies to use to better equip the company with the best, newest, and most advanced products. This could be deciding which sensors to use when upgrading products to include Internet of Things (IoT) sensors/actuators, or deciding which computer chips to include in a smart gadget, etc. When it comes to using strategic differentiators and develop products in software systems, CTOs can also determine which unique mechanisms and platforms are most effective. Chief Technology Officers may also work with the CIO to ensure that engineers and technical staff are working properly and efficiently on assigned tasks, but while CTOs manage technical staff involved in product/service development, CIOs manage the staff that is involved in the effective operation of internal IT systems.

As C-level, product- and service-focused business executives, CTOs must also understand laws and regulations (for product/service compliance), insurance issues, legalities related to intellectual property (IP), etc. With such understanding, CTOs work together with other C-level managers to plan the correct use of products after ensuring they comply with relevant legislation and are properly insured (if required).

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Does every company need a CTO, or can other roles fill the position?

The role of the CTO is closely related to the role or roles of other C-level executives and IT leaders, particularly the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Digital Officer (CDO), and VP of Engineering. While the various duties of the respective CIOs often overlap, there are some key differences that can help illustrate why a CTO is generally a necessity in any company that makes heavy use of technology in its products or services.

The difference between a CTO and VP of Engineering

While the job titles of CTO and VP Engineering are very similar, it is important to note that while they share some similarities, they have some important differences. While the VP of Engineering works with the CTO on the strategy of using technological innovations that will increase the company's revenue, the VP of Engineering acts more as a project manager and supervisor of the technical staff, while the CTO acts as a strategic C-suite. leader. The CTO can be seen as the senior technical leader in an organization responsible for developing long-term technology strategies and advanced product prototypes, research, development and manufacturing. The VP of engineering, on the other hand, assists teams in product development and manages the execution of the technology strategy established by the CTO. Another key responsibility of a CTO is participating in patent-related research for new business technologies, as well as engaging the public/media to help build the company's brand.

The difference between a CTO and a CIO

At first glance, the roles of CTO and CIO are very similar. While a CTO focuses on managing and managing the use of technology related to a company's products and services, a CIO focuses on managing and managing the use of IT systems to improve the efficiency of internal business processes. Both positions are C-level CTOs and CIOs, respectively, and both focus on strategy and planning the use of IT systems to help define the direction the business will take. However, the CIO is internally focused and focuses on using technology to increase workflow efficiency and minimize overhead. Thus, CIOs focus more on using technology for the long-term goal of increasing operating profit (net income). In contrast, a CTO is customer-centric and focuses more on using technology related to the products and services that customers will ultimately use. Thus, CTOs focus more on the use of technology with the aim of increasing the company's revenue (revenue).

The difference between a CTO and a CDO

The Chief Digital Officer is a C-level executive who helps train, equip and manage technology staff by delivering, developing and designing digital tools and systems for business use. CDOs also help strategize the use of new technologies so that a company can remain innovative. The CDO role can be considered an overlapping position with respect to the CIO and CTO roles. In particular, the role of the CDO to innovate for the long term helps with the digital transformation of all aspects of the business, while managing digital tools and assets can directly assist a CTO in his job of managing technology to deliver the company's technology products and services to customers . That said, a CTO focuses on technology management and strategy, while a CDO focuses on creating and managing digital assets that enable a business to operate in today's digital IT age.

(Video) The Role of a CTO

The CTO tends to be more outgoing than a CIO

CTOs focus more on using technology to improve a company's products and services, while CIOs focus on using technology to improve company processes, operations, and workflows. An example of this is the fact that CIOs will often use CRM, ERP, data analytics software packages, security packages, cloud servers, etc.

The CTO's main role is to ensure that the company's technology strategy is aligned with the overall business strategy

In modern business ecosystems, technology is inextricably linked to business products, business models, business services and future business strategies/innovations. CTOs work with the knowledge that technology should not just be a cost, but - as an extension of an existing business - should be a source of income. Furthermore, technology is an extension of the human elements and processes that run a business. A CTO thus ensures that the technology is usable in a company in order to realistically increase the company's turnover in relation to its products and services.

A CTO's most important contribution to an organization is understanding how to use technology to improve the company's revenue. CTOs work by aligning overall business goals, business model, business strategies and business products/services with the right technology that ultimately enables an organization to meet the needs of end users. While it is more often the case that the CIO develops the company's overall technology strategy (to improve the bottom line), the CTO ensures that the strategy is optimally integrated with the company's technology to achieve the company's goals in relation to the products/services approach. . (and thus improve the company's turnover).


(Video) CTO vs CIO: Who wins the battle?

A Chief Technology Officer is a key member of any company. As a C-suite executive, a CTO is tasked with effectively executing many key efforts that assist other C-level executives and ultimately help a company increase sales. A CTO is responsible for product/service-related technology management, technical staff management, project and program oversight, instruction of engineers and technical department managers, R&D guidance, and strategic technology development to ensure that the company's technology plan is aligned with the organization's overall goals. (s). The CTO is an essential part of any company and can help to significantly increase sales.


What is a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)? ›

The chief technology officer (CTO) is the individual within an organization who oversees the current technology and creates relevant policy. A CTO should have the business knowledge necessary to align technology-related decisions with the organization's goals.

What is the CTO? ›

The role of the chief technology officer encompasses far more than IT management. Learn what a CTO typically does for a business. A CTO serves as the lead technologist for a company, staying on top of tech trends and implementing software to help the business grow.

What is the primary responsibility of the CTO quizlet? ›

The chief technology officer (CTO) is responsible for ensuring the throughput, speed, accuracy, availability, and reliability of an organization's information technology.

Who answers to the CTO? ›

The VP of Engineering will work directly with and report to the CTO. Both roles are executive-level positions and will work closely together. The VPE will usually report directly to the CTO, while the CTO reports to the CEO.

What is a CTO in healthcare? ›

Typically reporting to the CIO (as it is at Stanford Health Care), the primary role of a CTO is to ensure reliability, resiliency and security of all information systems, data and devices across the organization.

What is the role of office of the CTO? ›

The mission of the Office of the U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO), currently led by U.S. CTO Megan Smith, is to help the President and the Administration harness the power of technology, data, and innovation to advance the future of our Nation.

What is the role of CTO in startup? ›

Your role as a Startup CTO is to translate the vision and mission of the company to the technical members of your organisation. You need to make sure the strategy of what they're working on is clear. They need to know the why for what they're working on.

What are the priorities of a CTO? ›

In the post-pandemic world, startups have prioritized talent management, customer experience, automation, data security, innovation, and cost-cutting measures in order to achieve scalability.

What are the roles and responsibilities of CEO and CTO? ›

In simple terms, a CEO manages a company, whereas a CTO oversees the technical team. Clients and staff in every organization search eagerly for the relationship between CTO and CEO because both roles carry a lot of responsibility.

What is inside the mind of a CTO? ›

The most successful CTOs tend to have an active and abstract thinking style. They are willing to challenge the status quo and consider novel alternatives. Entrepreneurial and fluid in their approach, they are not likely to be hindered by process and bureaucracy; they have the keen ability to see the big picture.

What does CTO ask in interview? ›

Tell me about a time where you identified a serious problem in the workplace and came up with a solution that benefitted your company. Problem solving skills are essential for a CFO. I want to make sure the person I hire has proven their ability to diagnose and fix technical problems.

What is the difference between head of technology and CTO? ›

While the CTO is responsible for overseeing the organization's technological advancements as a whole, the head of Engineering is instead responsible for the elements that lie within the engineering team.

What kind of questions does the CTO ask? ›

17 Questions to ask a CTO on your next job interview:

What are the biggest technical challenges the company is currently facing? How do you prioritize and manage competing demands from different areas of the business? How do you make decisions about which technologies to invest in and develop?

What are the two types of CTO? ›

What CTO flavor are you?
  • Big Thinker CTO. This type of CTO is much more focused on the strategic aspects of the company. ...
  • Infrastructure Manager CTO. ...
  • The Visionary CTO. ...
  • Startup CTO. ...
  • External-Facing Technologist CTO. ...
  • Operations Manager CTO. ...
  • Agile Coach CTO.

Why do you need a CTO? ›

Without the CTO, or at least someone with the right tech skills, many startups would have no way to build or expand their core products and services. A startup CTO acts as the company's go-to person for any major technical questions, which makes this person's presence (or absence) especially crucial.

Is a CTO good role? ›

As a CTO you have more ability than most to steer your career, through understanding and controlling the process of change. The Chief Technology Officer job allows you to move from a rapidly-changing field to a slow-moving strategic role, providing you learn how to make timely moves from one company to another.

Does a CTO need to be technical? ›

“What all this means is that, regardless of a company's stage of evolution or growth, the CTO must have a technical background. But this doesn't mean they need to come from a conventional computer science education.

What is the role of CTO in product development? ›

In any organization, a CTO has to wear multiple thinking hats to steer product development, build cybersecurity defenses, navigate uncertainty and drive growth with strategic planning. The role of the CTO becomes even more prominent in engineering product growth to achieve the organization's short- and long-term goals.

What is a typical startup CTO salary? ›

How much does a Startup CTO make? As of May 6, 2023, the average annual pay for a Startup CTO in the United States is $142,471 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $68.50 an hour. This is the equivalent of $2,739/week or $11,872/month.

What makes a strong CTO? ›

One of the most important qualities of a great CTO is the ability to anticipate upcoming trends, to plan ahead and provide the company with direction. This requires bold, forward-thinking, agility and creativity, someone who can use technology to improve the organization and increase business.

Who gets paid more CEO or CTO? ›

The average annual salary for a CTO is $134,489 per year , while the average annual salary for a CEO is $115,385 per year . The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the job outlook for top executive roles to grow by 4% through 2029, matching the national average for all occupations.

What is higher CEO or CTO? ›

The CTO usually reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) of the firm.

Is CTO higher than director? ›

A CTO is a Chief Technology Officer. A CTO sits between the CIO and the IT director and generally acts as a right-hand man to the CIO. A CTO will be involved in a lot of conversations about strategies and planning, but they are also going to be the direct link to the IT staff, help desk, and lead engineers.

What challenges does the CTO face? ›

Top 7 CTO Challenges in 2023
  • Shortage of IT Professionals Due to Exponential Demand. ...
  • Managing Legacy Systems As They Age Out and Become Obsolete. ...
  • Increasing Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Concerns with Remote Work. ...
  • Increasing Complexity in Enterprise Technology Environments. ...
  • Preparing for the Knock-off Effects of COVID-19.
Jan 3, 2023

How do I prepare for a meeting with CTO? ›

When talking to a CTO, assume they are well-read and well-informed, so rehashing the latest conference headlines (“Are you using DevOps?”) isn't likely to get them excited. Bring them something new and original, even if it's not perfect, and you'll likely trigger an interesting conversation.

What position is higher than CTO? ›

A chief technology officer (CTO) is the individual who oversees a company's technological needs and its research and development. This position typically reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO).

What position is equivalent to CTO? ›

Similar Job Titles to a Chief Technology Officer

For example, some employers may refer to a Chief Technology Officer as either a Chief Information Officer or a Vice President Of Technology.

What is the difference between CTO and team leader? ›

A CTO is a businessperson and a TL doesn't need to be. A Team Leader is a software engineer with the soul of a developer. A technical reference for all their team members, a TL's main goal is to produce all required deliverables on time. It's not strictly necessary for a CTO to be a software engineer.

What happens in an interview with CTO? ›

Most interviews will start off with a series of standard personal questions that aren't necessarily technical in and of themselves, but they do help the interviewers to assess your technical background. You can expect the standard interview questions that look at your background, hobbies and interests as well.

What makes a bad CTO? ›

A “bad” CTO isn't agile enough, and can't push out quick releases and features to save big deals, fix terrible bugs, etc. A “bad” CTO sometimes wants to do this, but just isn't good enough. Or a “bad” CTO is a bit too unmotivated / whatever to do what it takes to keep up.

What tools does a CTO use? ›

Here are five tools that should help you along the way.
  • A CTO Dashboard. ...
  • Collaboration Tool. ...
  • Testing Tool for Visual Regression and Bugs. ...
  • Time-tracking tool. ...
  • A data recovery tool.

How many CTO does a company have? ›

CTO is an executive level position in a company who usually reports to a CIO or CEO. Most larger corporations need two technology executives, CIO, and CTO, while smaller companies have one of these two roles.

What are the top 3 responsibilities of a CTO? ›

In addition to fixing IT-related issues, the CTO is responsible for developing, implementing, managing and evaluating the company's technology resources. The goal of a CTO is to examine short- and long-term needs while using capital to make investments that aid the organization in reaching its goals.

What is the highest salary of CTO? ›

Average starting Salary for CTO in India is around ₹6.4 Lakhs per year (₹53.3k per month). 3 years of minimum experience is required to be a CTO. What is the highest salary for a CTO in India? Highest salary that a CTO can earn is ₹101.0 Lakhs per year (₹8.4L per month).

Is CTO a stressful job? ›

Both a technical and strategic executive, a CTO must cope with stress related to leadership and coming from the development teams, the other CxOs, and customers.

Is CTO a full time job? ›

A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is responsible for technology, teams and suppliers. They drive innovation and efficiency across the business. The fractional term simply means part-time or interim. Hiring a full-time CTO is an expensive exercise.

Is the CEO higher than the CTO? ›

Simply put, companies hire CTO services to oversee the organization's technical staff, whereas a CEO supervises the overall operations of the company. The C-Suite consist of crucial executive leaders behind every successful corporation or business.

What does CTO mean in the military? ›

U.S. ARMY SPACE AND MISSILE DEFENSE COMMAND. OFFICE OF THE CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER (CTO) Bridging science and technology to the mission. The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Office of the Chief.

Which is higher CIO or CTO? ›

At organizations that have both a CIO and CTO, the CTO typically has more technical knowledge and expertise, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). When a company does not have a CIO, it's the CTO who determines the overall technology strategy, the BLS says.

Who is the CTO of US Central Command? ›

If you're wondering how a hidebound U.S. military is going to compete against smart, aggressive adversaries in the future, consider the example of Schuyler C. Moore, the recently appointed, 30-year-old chief technology officer of U.S. Central Command.

Is a CTO a leader? ›


As a member of the executive team, a great CTO has leadership skills, including the ability to inspire their team, delegate responsibilities, and ensure a positive technological transformation.

What is the highest position in a company? ›

CEO – Chief Executive Officer

This is the highest-ranking role in a company. CEOs oversee all business operations and decisions and are responsible for the success of the organization.

Does CTO always report to CEO? ›

Does the CTO report to CEO or COO? The CTO usually reports directly to a company's chief information officer (CIO) but may also report to the chief executive officer (CEO) of the firm.

What does a CTO do all day? ›

A chief technology officer (CTO) is responsible for overseeing the development and dissemination of technology for external customers, vendors, and other clients to help improve and increase business. They may also deal with internal IT operations if a company is small and doesn't have a chief information officer.

Is CTO an executive position? ›

What Is a CTO? A chief technology officer (CTO) is a top executive that oversees the entire information technology department and is responsible for integrating business needs and requirements into IT planning and operations.

What is the highest paid CIO salary? ›

The Richest CIOs: Our Annual List of Top Earners
Top Technology ExecutiveTitleSalary
Raymond VoelkerCIO$377,307
Scott ArvidsonEVP, CIO$336,386
Joseph Osbourn*EVP, CIO$498,001
Pierre SamecCTO$350,000
49 more rows

Who is the CTO of Homeland security? ›

David Larrimore is the Department of Homeland Security's chief technology officer.

What is President of CTO? ›

A president chief technology officer is an individual with a managerial-level post concentrating on settling the technological affairs within a company. Your responsibilities and jobs as regards this role include operating with other planners and technological developers to evaluate product requests in the market.


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