According to abbreviationfinder, a CTO (Chief Technical Officer) is tasked with driving the corporate vision using the IT structure. The CIO (Chief Information Officer or IT Manager), on the other hand, is more likely to take on the tasks of strategic and operational management of information technology (IT).
Due to the sometimes overlapping areas of responsibility of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and Chief Data Officer (CDO), there can also be competition at management level.
Digitization is of course a matter for the boss. It is therefore appropriate that she is also assigned a position in management. How the associated change is designed in the company depends very much on the respective management. For this reason, companies should increasingly ask themselves which functions at executive level they would like to use on this path. What is the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) here?
Delimitation of functions
First of all, it can be stated that the tasks and competences of the CIO and CTO can partially overlap. A clear demarcation of the two functions is hardly possible. As the name suggests, the Chief Technology Officer focuses even more on technical aspects than the Chief Information Officer: On the one hand, as far as the infrastructure in the company is concerned, on the other hand he directs the technological developments and research of a company and is also partly responsible for them on a commercial level Level.
Since there is still a unclear picture in many companies as to which functions should be carried out by the respective positions in management, this often leads to misleading job advertisements or appointments. For example, the CIO and CTO may be responsible for managing technical infrastructure, cybersecurity, and innovation. One solution could be that several functions are combined in one person: for example, CIO and Chief Data Officer (CDO).
Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
The term Chief Technical Officer originally comes from the English-speaking world and has also been used in Germany for the last few years. The CTO corresponds to the German term for “Technical Manager” and is part of the management level. The task of the CTO is to transfer and drive the management’s vision into the IT structure.
Here the CTO acts as an interface between the management and the technical departments of a company. Due to his extensive technical knowledge, he is able to structure the processes in such a way that all employees can work with the technical means and the IT systems in day-to-day business without any problems. It is also his job to monitor and continuously develop the strategic planning of the IT structures. His most important skills include sometimes unconventional ways of thinking and “thinking outside the box”.
In the company, the CTO usually reports directly to the management, whereby his contacts can be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Like the CTO, the CIO is technically oriented in his function, but the CIO is located in the top management of a company. Compared to the CIO, the focus of the CTO’s field of activity is more in the area of external influences and developments.
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
A CIO (IT director, IT manager, head of information technology or IT manager) takes on the tasks of strategic and operational management of IT in a company. A CIO is primarily responsible for the management of the three IT task areas: business and IT vision (innovation and planning), design of IT architecture (technology selection together with the CTO) and delivery of IT services (operation). In addition, he must set the objectives of the IT function in the company and establish a strong relationship between IT and business strategy.
The basic tasks of a CIO include: Ensuring the smooth operation of the IT system and looking after the IT infrastructure. In order to improve operational work processes and service procedures, the CIO must also coordinate and manage the use of technical capacities. At the same time, ensuring data protection is of great importance for the company. Since the development of IT structures is now synonymous with the development of new business areas, the ability to be innovative and develop new products depends heavily on the degree of expansion and use of IT.