IT management: who’s first, the CIO or the CTO?

by Matias Wolff 10, Feb, 2017

Depending on their size and structure, organizations have a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in charge of corporate software and IT management. But the difference between their roles raises many people’s eyebrows.
Company IT asset management has changed completely from what it looked like 5 years ago. Office work is more flexible. CEOs have implemented bring your own device (BYOD) environments, software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based servers.
The focus of IT managers, in charge of corporate information technology, is data security, as they increase their storage and backup in cloud-based services for computer security.
So, where do you draw the line between the CIO and CTO?
To Techopedia, the roles are more or less clear:
  • A CIO acts as an internal technology strategist. They need to understand the company's business needs and know about the technologies they use. Essentially, they are a business IT executive.
A CTO is like a tech engineer. They lead product development and planning technology or hardware upgrades.
In simple terms, the CIO focuses on the bottom line, while the CTO is looking at the top line.
In some companies, they are also the CTO. Others have split IT between the person that oversees supply, and the person who manages demand:
  • A CTO will deliver technology.
  • The CIO will apply it in the company’s processes.
At the age of outsourcing and data first, who runs the show?
Let’s say your company needs a data protection software for all your corporate devices.

So, where do you draw the line? Who’s in charge here?

Traditionally, the CTO reports to the CIO. But this depends on the company. Oleg Vishnepolsky, Global CTO at DailyMail Online and Metro.co.uk, explains that these two officers don’t agree on who responds to whom.

A CIO pictured by a CTO

The heads of information look more operational and strategic. They excel at planning and seeing the big picture, so they are better at negotiating with technology vendors and managing costs. But CIOs spend much time in meetings that have “little to do with technology.”
At the same time, they are a lot less technical than a CTO, because they often come from a non-technical background.
But they claim CIOs are risk averse and inward focused. They would rather license technology like software as a service than build it themselves

A CTO pictured by a CIO

The heads of technology are visionary, technical, and grea at representing a company’s technology strategy. They have an knack to build collaborative relationships with vendors.
That way, they serve as "chief architects" for their technology infrastructure. They act as "chief software development officers".
But heads of information say that their technology counterparts don’t plan or work their costs correctly.
Rather, “they like to play with technology that has little benefit to business,” and run “vanity projects that have no value to the company.” They are prone to risk and don’t manage the day to day operations well.

Then, again. Who’s in charge?

  • CTOs say that CIOs should report to them.
  • CIOs claim CTOs must answer to them.
What a predicament for the CEO. It’s like the chicken or the egg.
Keep your mobile devices and data safe
How do your company’s CTO and CIO work together?
Matias Wolff
Matias Wolff

CMO at Prey. BA in Advertising with a major in Marketing from Universidad del Pacífico. Master in International Marketing at ESMA, Barcelona. 18 years’ experience in multinational companies. I am a volunteer at the Endeavor program, and teach Integrated Marketing Communications at the Masters in Innovation program, Universidad Católica de Chile.
Let's connect:   

check out our

Related Blog Posts

Customer Support should listen to The Boss and keep that human touch

by Fabián Núñez May 8, 2017

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, said it best in his 1992 hit “Human Touch”: In a world without pity, do you think I'm asking..

Read More

5 Podcasts for IT Professionals

by Matias Wolff March 13, 2017

Being an IT professional has its perks. One thing that some might agree on is that when you work in IT you’re just sitting...

Read More

Asset management & advanced search: wizard's guide to label location

by Matias Wolff February 17, 2017

You’ve realized that an advanced search capacity is a must have tool to track your devices in multiple locations...

Read More

4 Challenges CIOs and IT Professionals will face in 2017

by Matias Wolff February 16, 2017

Hello 2017! Adiós 2016, a year that many wanted to leave behind. But now, a new period is starting, that will bring many..

Read More

The Current State of Handling Device Security in a BYOD system

by Matias Wolff February 14, 2017

There are many benefits for an institution that applies a BYOD system. Reduced costs, better use of the device’s..

Read More