– What’s the difference between CIO and CTO?
What they have in common:
- In both jobs, a key role is helping technologists understand what the business needs and helping the business understand what the technology can do for them.
- Both roles require a strong technologist with a strong grasp of business (kind of a corollary to the last point, but slightly different).
- Both should be strategic thinkers.
- Both should be excellent leaders.
How they are different:
- I see a CTO as primarily focused on the top line while the CIO is primarily focused on the bottom line. There’s some cross over, but I think this is a valid distinction.
- A CTO is primarily concerned with external products and customers while a CIO is primarily concerned with running the business (internal products and customers).
- In an ideal world, the CTO runs the product development organization while the CIO runs the IT organization.
- If you have to choose, being a strong technologist is more important for the CTO, while being a good manager is more important for the CIO.
- A CIO has to be operational and understand how to build repeatable processes, reliable systems, and the organization to run them. A CTO doesn’t necessarily have to have these skill if backed up by a strong operational person in the role of CIO.
RACI and characteristics the the two roles:
Chief Information Officer
- Serves as the company’s top technology infrastructure manager
- Runs the organization’s internal IT operations
- Works to streamline business processes with technology
- Focuses on internal customers (users and business units)
- Collaborates and manages vendors that supply infrastructure solutions
- Aligns the company’s IT infrastructure with business priorities
- Developers strategies to increase the company’s bottom line (profitability)
- Has to be a skilled and organized manager to be successful
Chief Technology Officer
- Serves as the company’s top technology architect
- Runs the organization’s engineering group
- Uses technology to enhance the company’s product offerings
- Focuses on external customers (buyers)
- Collaborates and manages vendors that supply solutions to enhance the company’s product(s)
- Aligns the company’s product architecture with business priorities
- Develops strategies to increase the company’s top line (revenue)
- Has to be a creative and innovative technologist to be successful