The Rising Importance of the CTO

As technology has become the top focus at modern businesses, the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has emerged as a vital leader.

These individuals are responsible for all technology infrastructure and applications, with strong engineering and I.T. experience to allow them to drive the technology roadmap for the firm. Over recent years, this role has become more customer focused as technology has become the heart of the customer experience for most companies.

An Evolving History

The CTO role emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the rapid expansion of the IT function. McKinsey & Company states that the position was originally developed as a single point-of-view on “the technology trends, policies, and procedures critical to developing or enhancing a company’s products and services.” But as the definition of “technology” has become broader and more encompassing, the role of CTO evolved into one that understands tech stack trends alongside customer and employee needs.

Today, more than any other c-suite role, CTOs are reportedly the most engaging and collaborative with CEOs and COOs at their companies, driving new customer experiences and driving value propositions at the highest levels. The CTO also must closely partner with the CISO to ensure security is top of mind for all technology decisions. Innovation is meaningless if it exposes a company with security vulnerabilities – security must be the first priority.

A Lynchpin Leader

According to The 2021 CTO Study conducted by IBM, CEOs at the top 20% of organisations ranked technology leaders as critical to financial success second only to CFOs. And these leaders are paving the way for how businesses operate in the future, directing digital transformation that enables employees to work more efficiently, reduces environmental and economic impact, and promotes enhanced cybersecurity measures. And the COVID-19 pandemic massively sped up technological decision making. Since 2019, CTOs have reported a 600% increase in digital process automation and a 530% increase in the utilization of hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Accelerated Strategic Change

A 2021 report conducted by SAP and IDG highlights how the response to COVID-19 aided in changing and advancing technology strategies, with 74% of enterprises actively investing in new digital solutions and 50% outsourcing skills to third-party vendors and managed service providers (MSPs).

Aside from business changes associated with the pandemic, cybersecurity concerns are becoming more pervasive across all industries. CyberEdge’s 2022 Cyberthreat Defense Report found that more than 80% of U.K. businesses experienced a successful cyberattack between 2021 and 2022, while security-related activities were only 11.8% of IT budgets. The rising threat of ransomware and other malicious actions by bad actors are renewing CTOs’ focus on security, training and prevention.

CTOs and the Future

What does the future look like for technology leaders across industries? In addition – a key trend we see if  leveraging artificial intelligence within the context of business strategy, while continuing to execute on short-term initiatives.

CTOs will also continue to be collaborative with leaders across the business to ensure alignment with organisational business strategies, industry trends, customers and employees. These leaders will direct effective change with regards to how companies operate and ultimately what businesses will look like in the short- and long-run.

About the Author:
Joe Smolarski is a transformational technology and business executive with proven track record of driving an improved customer experience while increasing operational efficiency. As Chief Operating Officer at Kaseya, Smolarski leads the operations, technology and back-office teams and is focused on driving automation and operational efficiencies across the entire Kaseya family of brands.

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