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Three Key Traits CTOs Require to Drive Innovation

By Prangya Pandab - November 07, 2022 4 Mins Read

Technology leaders need to be leaders who can rethink the future of their company, inspire, empower, motivate and collaborate with cross-functional teams on the journey toward digital strategy and execution.

Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of driving innovation and growth in the current digital environment through several traits and transformation techniques. Some of these traits call for execution-heavy experience, while others call for intuition and the ability to assess the direction they want to take the company.

The following three traits are crucial for CTOs to promote innovation in their companies:

Bilingual Strategist 

CTOs have several assets and opportunities at their disposal to develop a digital strategy that is focused on long-term success. Defining technological stacks, choosing software tools and vendors, and managing costs are no longer enough for CTOs. They must have a strategic mindset to work with business leaders as they execute digital transformation projects and rethink their business models.

To create shareholder value, CTOs must be able to inform, influence, and socialize with the CEO, the board, and the management team about the best capital allocation plans and R&D investment opportunities.

As they consider their future state technology strategy and plan, they also need to stay current on business, industry, and technology trends.

Commercial Acumen 

A good collaborator with commercial acumen can communicate the technology vision to stakeholders across the enterprise and promote alignment with each group’s unique go-to-market plans. The commercial success of the technology platform being developed depends heavily on the performance of the marketing, sales, customer success, training, support, and financial departments.

The overarching objective of creating enterprise value will not be achieved if the CTO is unable to translate the technology capabilities into ROI stories and value propositions for the commercial functions in understandable terminology to enable their individual go-to-market strategies. Poor commercial strategy causes many well-built digital platform businesses to fail because the technical and commercial engines are not working toward the same business goals.

Also Read: CTOs Need to Build a Cohesive Vision for a Successful Growth

Strong Coach-Player 

When implementing technological solutions, a strong coach-player personality can inspire and empower technology and product teams to innovate outside the box. In order to prevent the product and technical teams from having tunnel vision when it comes to technical implementation and product strategies, one crucial area is to consider holistic ways to integrate market, competitor, and customer feedback processes into the software development lifecycle constantly in real-time.

This comprises the customer success teams conducting NPS surveys with customers and business reviews, the engineering teams conducting user experience surveys on the platform, and the product teams working with the customer advisory boards for input. For each of these capabilities, technology teams need to adopt a design-thinking mindset. The CTOs can set the pace as examples for others to follow.

Also Read: Three Crucial Attributes of a Resilient IT Culture

Trust and Transparency 

CTOs must be great at developing transparency and trust with third-party vendors in order to create strategic alliances and an innovation ecosystem outside of the internal technology teams. Even when nothing proprietary is being developed to gain a competitive edge, CTOs can easily fall into the trap of designing every technology in-house and putting perfection over speed. Vendors with expertise in a particular technology area can be crucial in accelerating the scaling of digital platforms so that businesses can focus on user experience, problem formulation, and functionality customization to satisfy the needs of end users. Additionally, there are opportunities to collaborate on product development and revenue sharing with vendors to solve particular industry concerns.

It is crucial to create a culture where these traits and strategies can permeate all systems and processes. Technology leaders are not the only ones who must establish an environment that fosters innovation, but the need to keep the wheels of innovation turning must be explicitly communicated to all team members in order to ensure that change, growth, and evolution are a collaborative effort.

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Prangya Pandab

Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.

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