A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Does the CTO report to the CIO?

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Most CIOs will juCIO Versus CTOmp at this and say “but of course”, except if you are a CIO in a technology centric company.  Let us turn to a trusted source – Wikipedia. They actually compare the roles of the CTO and the CIO:  

“The focus of a CTO may be contrasted with that of a Chief Information Officer (CIO). A CIO is likely to solve organizational problems through acquiring and adapting existing technologies (especially those of an IT nature), whereas a CTO principally oversees development of new technologies (of various types). Many large companies have both positions. Another major distinction is between technologies that a firm seeks to actually develop to commercialize itself vs. technologies that support or enable a firm to carry out its ongoing operations. A CTO is focused on technology integral to products being sold to customers or clients, while a CIO is a more internally oriented position focused on technology needed for running the company (and in IT fields, for maintaining foundational software platforms for any new applications). Accordingly, a CTO is more likely to be integrally involved with formulating intellectual property (IP) strategies and exploiting proprietary technologies. In an enterprise whose primary technology matters are addressable by ready-made technologies (which, by definition, is not the case for any companies whose very purpose is to develop new technologies), a CIO might be the primary officer overseeing technology issues at the executive level. In an enterprise whose primary technology concerns do involve developing (or marketing) new technologies, a CTO is more likely to be the primary representative of these concerns at the executive level.”  

In a company that I was advising, the CTO ran all of IT (performed the role of CTO plus CIO).  I emphasized the need for managing the business needs and implementing an IT Governance process.  He was blase about it – no surprise he reports to the CIO now.

So who reports to whom? My answer: Neither.  If the organization feels that it needs both a CIO and the CTO, then they should both report to the CEO.  I feel that both roles are only needed in technology centric organizations.  For example in our own firm, UGovernIT, we have the CTO responsible for the product line and the CIO for ensuring that the product use and that the features are consistent with Enterprise needs.  Both report to the CEO.  

Written by Subbu Murthy

August 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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