The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is the individual within an organization who oversees the current technology and creates relevant policy. A CTO should have the business knowledge necessary to align technology-related decisions with the organization's goals.
In addition to fixing IT-related issues, a CTO is responsible for developing, implementing, managing and evaluating the company's technological resources.
The CTO position often overlaps with other jobs, in particular, that of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CSO (Chief Science Officer). Depending on its size and focus, a company may have any or all of these positions. As a rule, the CTO reports to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer).
Specifics of the CTO's job responsibilities vary from one organization to another. The following are the typical standard requirements in a CTO job description:
- Monitor technological, social and scientific trends that could influence the company's business goals.
- Identify opportunities and risks for the business.
- Participate in management decisions about corporate governance.
Research and development:
- Research and recommend the most effective content management systems (CMS).
- Maintain current information about technology standards and compliance regulations.
- Manage research and development of technology, IT assets and associated revenue.
- Communicate the company's technology strategy to partners, management, investors and employees.
- Assist with the recruitment, retention, acquisition and sales efforts of the company. Build relationships with vendors, communities and customers.
CIO vs. CTO
In mid-to-large size companies with higher executive budgets, the C-suite may include a CIO and a CTO. Both positions are focused on the engineering, implementation, development and management of technology. However, the key difference is that the CIO role typically involves internal operations, while the CTO role focuses on external processes.
CIOs primarily work with a company's IT staff as a managing leader. They are typically in charge of discovering and analyzing how technology processes affect the business, as well as identifying potential areas of improvement. The CIO also presides over the internal IT infrastructure.
CTOs, on the other hand, preside over the overarching technology infrastructure. This includes developing marketable technology, suggesting new technologies to implement, interacting with external buyers and budgeting.
CTOs also handle customer support, engagement and front-end content delivery. CTOs are more concerned with developing new technology to improve revenue and sales opportunities and extending the company brand than day-to-day operations.
Another unique job requirement of CTOs is marketing skills -- the CTO represents the external face of a company, requiring them to have an open and engaged relationship with vendors, customers, investors and partners.
The average salary of a CTO is between $130,000-$195,000 per year, with the annual pay being reflective of competition, education, skills, experience and the annual gross revenue of the hiring company.
CTOs salaries are also dependent on the sector of their company -- CTOs in the financial sector make over $200,000 on average, while e-commerce CTOs make $76,000 per year, according to a 2018 report from the InfoSec Institute.