'A modern CTO is somebody who is a programmer that is also a business person.'
There are many misconceptions about who a CTO is and what are his responsibilities. A CTO is responsible for both long- and short-term needs of a company. He utilizes the business’ capital to invest, in order to reach the goals of the organization.
CTOs are also responsible for:
1. Business strategy
CTOs have to have wide business knowledge in order to properly handle decisions related to technologies within the organization. They participate in communication with partners as well as employees. A CTO should be aware of the current technology standards and trends to keep the company up-to-date identifying opportunities and measuring risks. Every CTO should have a technology, as well as a business strategy since most of the business strategies, depend on technologies. CTOs works closely with CEOs and senior management while constantly analyzing target markets.
2. Technology strategy
CTOs handle the company’s infrastructure, they ensure security, manage data and network and usually create technical strategies. A technical strategy is prepared while envisioning how the given technology will be used and how other technologies will be introduced into the picture.
3. Managing customer relationships
CTO is a bridge between the client and the business. He helps teams deliver products to the market (in the case of SDH - service). For CTOs, customers are also people within the company that he is a part of. He should work closely with the people around him to build a better solution collectively.
4. Look for the sweet spot
CTOs are also responsible for making adequate decisions. They should be looking after every project and try to negotiate 80% of the benefit with 20% of the overall costs (the Pareto principle). They are the voice of reason in the project development. They should see “the bigger picture” and they should predict potential loss and gains.
5. Build a platform to grow technical leaders
As a tech and business guru, CTOs should provide guidance for other developers helping them to become the best specialists in their technology. By constantly training and delegating people to new tasks and responsibilities, they ensure the overall quality of development across the company stays at the highest level possible.
6. Technology radar
A CTO has to frequently monitor the technology changes and act accordingly (he should question the technological status quo within his company - evaluate especially his own decisions). Because the IT world changes very rapidly he should not take its current state for granted. What is more, he should aim to excel the market’s need for a given solution and actively promote it in his organization - a CTO is the catalyst of innovation.
Over the years, the importance of the position of a CTO has increased. In the future, the need for the position of a Chief Technology Officer is expected to grow even more due to the business development of organizations and expertization of each role in companies. Being a CTO is a hard task since they have to split their focus onto many fields while mentoring and training leaders of the future.