The distinction between the roles of CIO and CTO is becoming increasingly hazy. With good governance over IT decisions and technology investment, both executives should try to eliminate points of friction. The relationship between the CIO and the CTO should not be adversarial; rather, it should be mutually beneficial.
The majority of C-suite roles and responsibilities are quite distinct and well defined. Roles and responsibilities between CIOs and CTOs, however, can get blurred at times. The fact that technology and how businesses use it evolves at such a quick pace does not help matters. Nonetheless, many businesses have both a CIO and a CTO, and it’s critical that the two work together to get the most out of technology.
Increased synergy between the responsibilities of CIO and CTO
The terms CIO and CTO are becoming more and more interchangeable. There are times when a company’s revolutionary transition is communicated through a title change. In certain circumstances, the CTO may be solely responsible for infrastructure, while in others, the CTO may be the strategic leader of the technological function. The sector is increasingly seeing the title of chief digital information officer or chief digital technology officer, which adds to the complexity and uncertainty.
Over the last few years, the CIO-CTO relationship has become considerably more synergistic. As a result, CITOs (those who hold both roles) are becoming more widespread.
Because organizations often cannot roll out new solutions using technology such as the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), or internet of things (IoT) without first leveraging them internally to understand how they work and the challenges and benefits they bring, digital transformation is assisting in the convergence of these roles.
CIOs, like CTOs, must now keep an eye on the future to ensure that their enterprises are robust and future-proofed against any threats the future may bring.
Collaboration between the CIO and the CTO
Experts agree that whenever possible, CIOs and CTOs should collaborate to optimize the benefits of technology for the company. Understanding their differences and balancing their talents will help these leaders work together more effectively.
CTOs are technical engineers who use technology to produce products and capabilities. They are creators, and their teams function best when members are unrestricted and productive. CIOs are operational engineers who use technology to enable staff productivity and supply corporate services. They are operators, and their teams run best when members are effective and efficient. CTOs and CIOs can connect and collaborate on a shared corporate objective of business enablement via great products and great systems, while each bringing unique skills to the table to achieve their shared goal of employee productivity.
Organizations can take a number of actions to ensure that their CIOs and CTOs have a healthy working relationship. One is to maintain open channels of communication. To be successful, CIOs, CTOs, and their teams must meet on a frequent basis to create trust and gain a better knowledge of the other side’s goals. Open, transparent communication or joint town halls will aid both groups in developing more empathy and teamwork.
If the CTO has excellent communication skills, IT innovation activities will be boosted. Often, the CTO can do prototypes and collaborate with business units to find new business techniques. This boosts the IT organization’s overall relevance.
When feasible, it’s also a good idea to share the knowledge. If a business is facing a certain difficulty, such as scaling a project, internal customers are likely to face similar difficulties. It’s more likely that both teams will gain from integrating knowledge and working together to solve problems.