Every CTO balances between running a business and programming. To fulfill this task successfully, he needs to have a deep understanding of modern technologies and, at the same time, be a great communicator and project manager able to work with both developers, management, and the “outside world.”
Essentially, a CTO is a visionary and manager making the right technology decisions and striving for:
- company’s growth,
- a scalable product,
- a lean team.
The Leader Who Has the Voice in the Tech
CTOs review technologies, consider different solutions and support their teams in delivering products on time. When a CTO is inexperienced in the tech field and relies solely on engineers’ advice, his decisions may be dictated by the fear of risk and ultimately limit the pace of the company’s growth. A CTO’s most crucial responsibility is estimating risk and performance levels.
To stay on top of modern technologies, every now and then, a CTO has to roll up his sleeves and experiment with trending solutions and do regular research of market trends.
“I compel CTOs worldwide, no matter your discipline, to get your hands dirty with the technologies you are evaluating.” – Bill Bodin, CTO at Kony
He has to be able to spot talented developers, help them progress, and communicate in a way fostering trust and respect. In other cases, he needs to be able to verify and choose the right external software provider to outsource parts of product development and speed its delivery.
Focusing on Business and Building Awareness
An effective CTO has to network and build relationships with other experts in the business and tech field. These connections can be built through activity on Facebook/LinkedIn Groups, attending events, business meetings, workshops, free/paid webinars, and various conferences.
Once the connections are built, his next step is to share awareness of his business, ideas, and aspirations, and most crucially, ask others for feedback. This way, he’ll have an opportunity to look at his approach/idea/style of management differently, from a broader perspective.
In a role like this, it’s also important to offer support across marketing, design, customer service. The tech is everywhere. If a CTO doesn’t understand the needs across the business, he will potentially be making bad tech decisions.
“Being a CTO is about more than just choosing technology solutions or making sure people can work from home successfully. The CTO role is changing to encompass supply chain resiliency, communications solutions and support for sales teams, preventing technological surprise and meeting broader business unit needs.” – Tommy Gardner, CTO, HP Federal
An Artist in a Company
A CTO is a true visionary – he comes up with creative yet realistic ideas thanks to his understanding of the art of coding.
Being a visionary also means promoting team culture, technical conduct, multidimensional insight, and building an environment that results in creating a product that meets customer’s expectations and makes the development team proud.
8 Do’s of a Modern CTO
Modern CTOs who want to stay on top of their game should:
- Make friends with technology integrated into the projects and try to understand it as best as possible.
- Pay attention to developing technology trends and industries, and try to predict how they will affect and shape the market in the future.
- Ask developers about their opinions on particular approaches, solutions, technologies, and consider those insights.
- Collaborate with the CEO, COO, developers, and contractors, and learn their “language.”
- Try to understand how particular teams and units use specific tools and look for possible improvements in their efficiency.
- Be a true leader and artist in the team – accept diversity, learn flexibility, and remember that technology is never fixed or permanent.
- Fill in the gaps in knowledge of technical and business aspects of the product.
- Pick a platform that will reduce the time to market of the product.
The Role of a CTO – Key Takeaways
The primary job of the CTO is to make sure the company’s technology strategy serves its business goals.
Along with an understanding of the technology, every CTO needs an excellent understating of the business itself. He needs to keep his hand on the company’s pulse and have an insight into marketing, design, customer service strategies his company employs.
Only dedicated CTOs are good at translating technical language into business and the other way round. Clear communication is often the core of keeping a project going.