If you’re a CTO who feels like that’s the message you’ve been getting, you’re not alone.
One of the participants at a recent IPR Thought Leadership Roundtable event said something that had almost everyone else in the room nodding in agreement. What he said was, ““The day I started being a CTO was the day I stopped being a CTO.” It resonated with the group, all of whom understand all too well that the role of the CTO has changed dramatically—and CTOs have had to change as well.
Gone are the days of the 90s-era CTO—the tech-wizard rock star who intentionally spoke a language no one else could understand. Gone, too, are the days of the cost-cutting MacGyvers of the early 2000s, the ones who prided themselves on being able to build anything out of anything.
In fact, successful CTOs today are the ones who have turned those outdated images on their heads. For starters, speaking in a language no one else understands will sink a CTO in 2014. More than almost anything else, COMMUNICATION has become one of the CTO’s most essential skills. In particular, CTOs must be able to deftly explain IT to their Boards, and not simply what it costs or what it does. They need to explain how it can transform the business.
Beyond the Board, CTOs must keep communication flowing with the business units, remaining focused on business goals and growth. Of course, to do that effectively, CTOs have to DELEGATE the management of IT to their staff. The CTO’s new mantra must become: “I know the business, my IT staff knows the IT.” That’s a far cry from having your hands in the IT—which was the absolute norm for CTOs a decade ago.
Another thing we hear over and over again at our Roundtable events is that CTOs have shifted from being builders to integrators. Said one IPR Thought Leadership member: “Ten years ago, I was building stuff. Today, my job is about integrating services and technology products—and it requires being much more involved in the financials, what hits what line.”
Increasingly, success at the CTO level today involves four main points of focus:
• UNDERSTANDING the company’s vision
• TRANSLATING it into actionable technology strategies
• COLLABORATING with diverse internal clients
• COMMUNICATING how IT impacts revenue, bottom line
We want to hear from you. How much progress have you made on these four points? Which has proven the most difficult? What would help you complete your transition to the CTO of 2014?