Monday, January 26, 2009

CIO vs CTO, What's the difference?

Good question, and the one I have received by far the most feedback on. While everyone is aware of these jobs, there is a wide view of opinions out there (go figure !) One will have no shortage of reference to hone their own view as to what these roles are. Of course, from a business standpoint, I can say whatever I want here, in the end, it is what any specific organization determines what is best for them. That all said, let me try to delineate the discussion especially regarding how KZaiken Enterprises can contribute.

Given the day and age, let's start with the end all of information repositories, Wikipedia. According to Wiki,,
A chief technical officer or chief technology officer (abbreviated as CTO) is an executive position whose holder is focused on scientific and technical issues within an organization. Essentially, a CTO is responsible for the transformation of capital- be it monetary, intellectual, or political- into technology in furtherance of the company's objectives.
Now, as an MBA student, I'm inclined to not give lots of credence to Wiki, as it is not an acceptable reference for all the case studies and papers I currently am producing. But, this is my blog and actually, from my own impressions and research, this is a good definition.

Now, lets look at the other position, the CIO role. Here, Wiki wasn't as helpful. However, I'm more inclined to line up with article in Techrepublic,
Broadly defined, the CIO is responsible for ensuring that the company’s information technology investments are aligned with its strategic business objectives. To this end, the CIO has emerged as the key executive for information assets, operations, and policy. Moreover, in most businesses, the CIO is responsible for the oversight management of such office automation tasks as desktop architecture and support, network implementation, software development, and information management.
To narrow it down, the CIO is more of a business position dealing with internal, more IT related processes. The CTO is a technical position dealing much more with strategic technology and how that can be turned into business opportunity. None of these are set in stone and there is great overlap, and as said earlier, lot's of discussion. One last quote comes from Phil Windley,,

CIOs are primarily concerned with how their company consumes and applies technology. CTOs are primarily concerned with how their company creates and exports technology.
From the perspective of KZaiken Enterprises, I have experience, skills, and continuing education that covers all these areas. From a CTO perspective, I am steeped in technology from the beginning. I have excelled within R&D, with more emphasis on the Research side. I was developing, but they tended very much to be the new, leading edge ideas that came from the research. I have my name on 7 patents, not to mention other significant ideas. I also ran the Office of the CTO while I was at Lakeview Technology. The best compliment I received from customers was the statement, "That's impossible, you can't do that!" My response, "Here's the trial license, let me know what you think."

From the CIO perspective, my qualifications stem from several areas. While I am a technologist at heart, I was also an executive for 14 years. I am well versed on the business side, and to take it to the next level, I am deeply involved in working towards my MBA. I will have that degree within the next 12 months. I worked directly with scores of customers over the years while at Lakeview. Usually, they were the ones with the biggest issues, the tough ones, that's what landed on my desk. Many lessons and skills were learned from this work that ties into the business side, the CIO side. All these experiences and skills I will now bring forth to any new customers I deal with.

Many of the discussions state that the CIO/CTO roles are murky and in many companies they are very much one and the same. Whether you view them distinctly or synonymously, I cover it from all sides and in the end, my customers are the ones that will benefit.

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