The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Role in Digital Transformation

Welcome to Part 3 in our four-part series on the roles necessary for your digital project. In Part 1, we talked about the CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officer) role and why they are critical to any digital project. In Part 2, we talked about the CIO role (Chief Information Officer) and its importance as well.

4 Key Roles in Digital Projects

  1. The Chief Marketing Officer or CMO – Represents Marketing
  2. The Chief Information Officer or CIO – Information and data transfer and security
  3. The Chief Technology Officer or CTO – Technology’s overlay with the business
  4. The Chief Digital Officer or CDO – Focused on the digital consumer experience

One more reminder—the exact tiles are not important. What we need to ensure is that we fill the positions with people who understand the subject well. These roles can be other people in the organization or an outside resource like a consultant. The smaller the organization, the more we see the four functions held by one or two people. Conversely, you may see more than one person performing parts of any of these roles in larger organizations. The main point is that these skill sets are necessary to include in your digital projects. If not, you are missing a critical piece.

The Chief Technology Officer’s Role in Digital Transformation

The next role I want to cover is the CTO role. People often think of the CTO as the CIO and vice versa. I see them as distinct personas. The title is less important than what I consider their function as part of your digital project. The CTO is the most challenging role to describe because it can come in many forms.

This person should be the company’s top engineer or product owner. They know the most, technically speaking, about the products or services your company offers. The CTO role is outward-facing and is responsible for making technology work in the best way possible for your product or service. This person truly understands what the customer wants and has deep experience bringing your products and services to market.

They are often good at connecting the dots and asking themselves what new technology exists to serve their customers better. Your product or service may be solid, but the CTO can make it better by seeing ways to improve it through the use of technology, whether it be raw engineering, hardware, software, or a combination.

The CTO can come from an engineering, technology, or product background but have risen to a solid contributor to the company’s overall products or services. In a non-technical product or service, this person could come from sales, marketing, or another non-technical role, but they know their craft and what it means to your customer. This person may, in fact, be the CEO or owner of a significant business line.

Most importantly, this person represents the business strategically and knows how to apply technology to serve the customer best.

CTO Role Cautions

The CTO’s energy and ideas can be infectious. Sometimes they can be overly visionary for what the company can accomplish. In a way, they can try to connect too many dots! While they can increase the enthusiasm for the project, they sometimes need to be reined in and make sure not to “gold-plate” the project in an attempt to make the solution perfect. Limiting features and scope is necessary when embarking on complex digital efforts because so much is possible.

Thank you, and look for our next installment when we bring it all together with the CDO or Chief Digital Officer. Remember, Adage is here to help you use technology to fulfill your mission, vision, AND purpose!

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