CIO vs CTO: How do you divide the responsibilities?


Given the technology landscape today and its business-focused agenda, every organization has created an indispensable C-level position whose role is to use technology to propel the business forward.

CIOs and CTOs are two of the most important roles in any company’s IT department, and if we were to focus on 2019, nearly every organization is emphasizing these roles. However, whether your company should have both a CIO and a CTO depends on the size of your organization.

here is an underlying confusion between the role and responsibilities of CIOs and CTOs. Manisha Hombalkar, CIO at Jaysynth Dyestuff India Ltd opines, “A CIO needs to have knowledge of the business and process and bridges the gap by implementing the right solutions. He needs to find the users’ requirements and needs to give them a very comfortable environment to do routine work. CIO should ensure that SOPs & policies are in place and strictly follow the same.” About the CTO’s role, she says, “A CTO needs to ensure that he is giving correct infrastructure, keeping in mind the future growth of the company. He should give a viable infrastructure solution and ensure that resources are used to the fullest. CTOs should periodically take the review of the present infrastructure and latest technology adopted in the market.”

Goodbye back-end IT solutions: CIOs hold center seats in business strategies

The management of IT assets of a company has transformed over the last decade. Companies are moving towards SaaS, cloud, and BYOD (Bring your own device). This has led to IT managers focusing most of their attention on IT security. In such a dynamic scenario, how do you divide the responsibilities among the two?

“I think the key is to find a complementary pairing. CTOs need to be innovators and strategic thinkers, good thought leaders, restless horizon-watchers; whilst CIOs need to be great problem solvers, have a really good decision making and critical thinking skills, and be credible internal influencers. For me, the goal is to find a pair (or more) of complementary experts and let them work out how to divide the workload in a way that doesn’t appear to value some aspect of the technology function more than others, and more importantly doesn’t create infighting and stifle innovation across the business — whether that’s user experience, productivity, BI, marketing, whatever,” says Anthony Eeles, Chief Digital/Information Officer at HCML Rehabilitation Solutions.

Does that mean the creation of a hybrid IT model? Maybe. There’s a mix and match of skill sets required here. While CTOs are at their core technologists, CIOs are blending technology with business. They are internally focused and CTOs, externally. Alan Ariel, CIO Services Consultant at Ariel View Solutions says, “I’ve seen two models in my time. The first is the more traditional model. The CIO and CTO are either peers or the CTO is subordinate. (Opposite in a software company). The CTO is focused on app dev and architecture and CIO on business strategy, alignment, and operations. The alternative model I saw was in a large enterprise that was heavy on internal app dev. The CIO had 4 app development VPs that were aligned with specific business areas plus a CTO who was responsible for architecture, infrastructure, and operations.”

This constant innovation in the digital landscape will require every C-level executive in the IT department to wear many different hats. The key is to constantly disrupt and stay ahead of the curve in the industry. So you, as an organization might define roles and responsibilities today, but always keep them dynamic as new challenges demand new collaborations.

To know how CIOs and CTOs are remolding the face of technology and business and becoming transformational, watch our AMAs with the industry’s top CIOs and CTOs.


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