CIO and CTO roles have shifted and converged as a result of this increased focus on digital transformation and the pandemic.
Most roles and responsibilities in the C-suite are fairly distinct and well defined. For example, CFOs are responsible for all financial operations; COOs oversee daily operations; and CEOs manage the entire business, and so on. With CIOs and CTOs however, roles and responsibilities can sometimes get blurred. In fact, with more digitalization the roles of these technology executives have often become so intertwined that some companies are seeing a need to consolidate the executive positions.
The thought of merging the two tech executive roles in the enterprise, however, is not something new. In fact, companies such as KFC, Ocean Spray, Peloton and several others have already merged the two roles in the pre-pandemic times. But a new research conducted by Transposit demonstrates that CIO and CTO roles have shifted and converged as a result of this increased focus on digital transformation, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. And they believe the trend is here to stay with the acceleration of digital transformation in businesses across the world.
Traditionally, CIOs and CTOs have served different roles in companies, where the former is often tasked with keeping the lights on and the role has been largely inward facing. CTOs, on the other hand, are dedicated to the customer experience and innovation. Up until 2020, things in the C-suite were moving at a reasonably predictable pace. But the events that then unfolded substantially altered our perspectives on technology, work, life and society – much more quickly than we are used to.
The vast majority (97.8%) of executives in the survey reported that there was an increased focus on digital transformation within their organization in the past two years, with over 75% of CTOs and CIOs disclosing that this has been the case especially since the pandemic.
Most respondents (91.8%) said that their responsibilities changed in the last 3 years, with over half (56.4%) reporting their role changed significantly. Both are now graded according to key performance indicators (KPIs) related to managing revenue, with 66.3% of CIOs and 78.1% of CTOs saying their position is now directly involved in or leading business strategy. Again when it comes to spearheading technology, CIOs and CTOs are encouraged to collaborate, sometimes blurring the lines between roles.
However, it would be wrong to assume that in most companies one of the executive roles will cease to exist. The majority of enterprises surveyed reported having both CIOs and CTOs as part of their organizations: 83.3% of CIOs said there is also a CTO, and 85.6% of CTOs said there is a CIO at their organization. Additionally, 24.1% of respondents surveyed perform dual roles, serving as both CIO and CTO.
With regard to ownership of software development, operating in-house developed software, managing SaaS or operating commercial off-the-shelf software, external customer experience and digital transformation, both CIOs and CTOs share the responsibility for the given areas. In fact, more than a third (33.5%) believes that ownership of most aspects of digital transformation initiatives is a shared responsibility between the CIO and CTO.
In other words, 32% say that ownership of software development in their organization is a shared responsibility. More than a third (34.7%) say that ownership of operating in-house developed software is a shared responsibility in their organization; Over 28% say ownership of managing SaaS or operating commercial off-the-shelf software in their organization is a shared responsibility and a third says ownership of the technology for the external customer experience in their organization is a shared responsibility.
More important, in times of uncertainty, when asked which KPIs their team is measured by, executives cited revenue growth (74.5%), rate of innovation (60.1%) and uptime (53.6%) as the top three priorities. With over 85% of executives reporting that their budget has increased over the last 3 years, CIOs and CTOs have realized that finding incremental revenue means innovating faster and smarter.
The pandemic-induced necessity for people to work remotely (and now to a hybrid work environment) has seen both these positions moving quickly from being technologists to trusted advisors to the rest of the company. Moreover, the proliferation of data, connectivity, as-a-service everything and the resultant growth in cybersecurity needs will all become part of any tech leader’s expanded responsibilities.
In that sense, the report concludes that digital transformation is also helping in the convergence of these roles, because companies often cannot roll out new solutions using technology such as the internet of things (IoT), cloud, and artificial intelligence (AI) without leveraging them internally to understand how they work and the benefits and challenges they bring.
While roles are blurring, firms which have both a CIO and a CTO (either headed by one executive, or two separate entities), it’s important that the two (roles) work in harmony in order to maximize the benefits of technology and continually look at what’s next to keep their organizations resilient and future-proofed against whatever challenges tomorrow may bring.