Saturday, August 10, 2002
Very intresting article below was posted by WakRobot to everybody here:
CTO VS CIO: WHO’S THE BOSS?
CITO: The wave of the future?
By Zuraidah Ibrahim (MISWEB magazine August 2002)
CTOs are an emerging breed in Asia. How is a CTO different from a CIO? Is it the job for you? We find out in the second of our three-part series on career options.
THE CIO is an entrenched position in large and even medium-sized companies but the rise of the CTO’s office is giving it a run for its money. Although CTOs became most visible during the height of the dotcom era when every other fresh-out-of-college programmer could catapult into the job, it is clear that CTOs are a distinct breed of IT executive that is here to stay even in these cost-cutting times.
What does a CTO do? How does he work in relation to the CIO? What about those professionals whose business cards describe them as CIO/CTO? And while we’re at it, is the CTO the chief technical officer or chief technology officer?
The answer to the last is easiest—it means the same thing and the title varies from company to company. MIS Asia put the other questions to CTOs themselves and search consultants in IT and found essentially a similar answer to all of them. The title and the relationship between CIO and CTO depend on which company one is dealing with.
Nick Chia, head of the technology and telecommunications group for Asia at recruitment firm Egon Zehnder International, says the role of the CTO turns mainly on whether the company is a technology-enabler or a pure technology company, as opposed to a more traditional company. In the case of the former two, where technology is crucial, and hence the basis of revenue generation, the CTO would more likely be the number one technology person. “He is the chief technical guru, where he is in charge of both the demand and supply side of IT for the business and its customers,” says Chia.
Sajit Bhaskaran is one such CTO of a pure technology company. He heads Aspen Networks Inc, a Silicon Valley-based firm that is developing a new class of communications hardware. He defines his role as CTO thus: “The CTO owns—from a responsibility perspective—all the technology aspects of the business, and in particular, is the overall guardian and protector of the intellectual property that the company develops.”
In pure technology or technology-enabler companies, the CTO has to be a visionary as well as a strategist. He focuses on the product itself, its development and enhancement and also looks at how the product or service can sell and trump the competition in the marketplace.
As Bhaskaran says: “I happen to be the founder of the company and also originated several key technology concepts and innovations we are in the process of bringing to market. I see it as my job to make sure we always remain at the edge and ahead of our competitors”.
Technology companies may also have both CTOs and CIOs—the CTO is the strategy-oriented technology person and the CIO is the operations-oriented person. Who answers to whom? Often, the CTO reports to the chief executive, while the CIO answers to the chief operating officer. In situations where the company uses itself as the demo model for its proprietary technology, the CIO may find himself answering to the CTO.
IT in supporting role
In a traditional company, where IT performs a support function—whether it is the administration of the central computing system or the installation of supply chain management systems—the CIO is more likely to be the number one technology person, says Chia.
Some of these companies, especially if they are large multinationals, may also have a CTO who may be assigned to a specific area of IT where some technology leadership is needed and he reports to the CIO, Chia adds.
In many companies in Asia, the CTO performs both the functions of CIO and CTO. Ang Lek Han, CTO of the Singapore Institute of Management, is among them. “In Singapore, the terms are still being used interchangeably,” he says.
Ang says he has even met people who hold the post of CITO—the chief information and technology officer. These flexible define-as-you-go-along job titles demonstrate that the roles and responsibilities of those at the top of the IT career ladder in Singapore and Asia are still evolving, says Ang.
Indeed, this is in marked contrast to the US or even Europe, where the CTO’s job has been more clearly defined and his rise in the corporation amply documented.
As Bhaskaran notes: “The CTO function in most US companies has more to do with the technology or intellectual property being developed by the company, technology which is developed into a product or service and which is used to generate revenue [at some point in time] for the company.”
Ang is keenly aware of the differences in definitions. As CTO of a Singapore-based organisation, Ang notes that he focuses more on leveraging technology to enhance the business direction of the company and less on the technology product development side, because that is not the core business of SIM.
What’s the pay?
As for compensation, most CTOs in Fortune 500 companies receive comparable, if not higher, pay than CIOs. Reports show annual pay packages range from US$300,000 to US$500,000 for both positions.
In Singapore and the rest of Asia, CTOs and CIOs for mid-sized companies earn around S$200,000 (US$115,000) to S$300,000 (US$172,000), according to Chia. Those who perform CTO-type roles in set-ups where there is also a CIO would earn about S$150,000 (US$86,000) to S$200,000 (US$115,000). CTOs who are founders too often pay themselves less.
Will CTOs be more dominant than CIOs in companies of the future? For now, it is hard to tell and the answer will depend very much on the nature of the company in question. CTOs are a slowly emerging force in Asia. In the West, the rise of the CTOs started primarily in pure technology or technology-heavy companies. Similarly, their future rise in Asia will partly be a function of technology innovation and creativity in homegrown companies.
CTO VS CIO: WHO’S THE BOSS?
In practice, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. In theory, this is how the roles are different:
· In tech companies, is the visionary, responsible for R&D and product plans. Reports to the CEO.
· In non-tech companies, often performs the CIO’s job. May be assigned to a specific area of IT and may report to the CIO.
· In tech companies, plays a support function. Reports to the COO, or the CTO.
· In non-tech companies, the CIO is usually the most senior IT person, performing strategic and operational roles.
ARE YOU CTO MATERIAL?
Nick Chia, head of the technology and telecommunications group for Asia at recruitment firm Egon Zehnder International, notes that among the qualities that search consultants like him look out for in CTOs are:
· A strong technical skill set, preferably with broad technology knowledge.
· An ability to articulate a technology vision for the company.
· Strong commercial acumen: “He knows that a product has to be usable by as many people as possible and balances technology and business considerations, not emphasising one over the other.”’
· Powerful influencing and motivating skills: “He has to work with people across many teams. His people skills will be critical.”