by Chris Potts

CIO and CTO – two different roles, really?

May 28, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

It seems reasonable to assume that the CIO and CTO are truly different roles.  Yet research suggests that the majority of CIOs think they should be both.

In a recent interview for an article about business innovation and IT, I said that the fundamental differences between the roles of CIO and CTO must be clearly defined.  In the context of the article’s subject matter, the CIO should be driving corporate innovation strategy while the CTO focuses on IT operational excellence.

However, according to research from a major consultancy quoted in the same article, the majority of CIOs think the two roles should be combined.

One reason why some CIOs find it difficult to be taken seriously as corporate strategists is because their executive colleagues have not yet seen ‘clear water’ between the CIO role and that of a CTO or IT Director.   

Having a clear separation between corporate strategy and day-to-day operations is a well-established business practice.  There are natural tensions between the two, and each requires a very different mindset, skillset and measures of success. 

In the IT space however – if the quoted research is to be believed – it seems many CIOs feel that keeping corporate strategy and day-to-day operations together is the better answer.

If so, why?