CTO vs. CIO: Corporate Heavyweights

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Difference between CTO and CIO

The changing role of technology in today's business world has brought about the rise of numerous corporate positions, many of which were previously unheard of and even unimagined. Among these new titles are CTO and CIO– Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer respectively–and their increasingly widespread use has caused more confusion than clarity. Nevertheless, it would appear that such positions are here to stay (and indeed portend the rise of even more new ones), so it only makes sense to take a look at the more salient aspects of each.

CTO
CIO

Primary Responsibilities

The CTO or Chief Technology Officer is primarily responsible for the development and maintenance of the technological infrastructure of a particular company. Among his roles is the setting up of the intranet and communications systems with the goal of allowing the business to run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. The CTO is also commonly tasked to handle the company’s engineering concerns. In summation, the main role of the CTO is to utilize technology in a way that enhances production.

The CIO or Chief Information Officer for his part is in charge of top-level management of the same technological infrastructure. This generally involves the maintenance and upgrading of the communications systems of the company in order to ensure optimal function. CIOs are also often tasked with managing the company’s IT department. The most basic task of the CIO is to utilize technology in order to increase efficiency and to allow personnel appropriate access to company resources.

Focus

One distinct difference between the two is in their approach to their respective tasks. While a CIO would typically be focused on the internal organization, the CTO is more closely attuned to the needs of the customer.

The CIO for his part works closely with various providers in coming up with feasible solutions for product development and improvement. As you can imagine, it is therefore important for CIOs to keep in touch with the latest developments in the industry and to build up a suitable network of providers of up-to-date technology.

Key Attributes

CTOs are expected to have the capability to develop and implement strategies that will raise the company’s revenue. For this task, a CTO must be equipped with ample amounts of creativity and innovation.

The CIO on the other hand should work to increase the company’s profits. This task requires a capable and highly organized manager.

Summary

CTO

  • Functions as the technology architect of the company
  • Is primarily responsible for the engineering component
  • Utilizes technology in developing new products and enhancing existing ones
  • Focuses mainly on customers
  • Works closely with vendors in supplying solutions to the market
  • Must be creative and forward looking

CIO

  • Has the role of managing the technology infrastructure of the company
  • Carries out internal IT tasks
  • Focuses mainly on internal customers
  • Works to develop the IT infrastructure in line with business goals
  • Must be a capable and efficient manager

Which executive is usually more visible to middle managers?
  • CTO
  • CIO
 
 

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