SAN MATEO (07/31/2000) - OPINIONS
InfoWorld over the past nine months has been steadily building a community around an emerging title in the IT community: The chief technology officer. As part of that effort, we launched the first annual CTO Forum and a new quarterly publication called CTO First Mover, added a section to our Web site called CTO Zone, and created a weekly series of newsletters called CTO First Mover Source.
Next week we'll be adding to that effort with the publication of our new CTO First Mover Directory, which profiles 300 CTOs from all walks of IT life. This directory, only available to CTOs, is intended to help foster a shared sense of community among CTOs across a broad range of industries.
In fact, our efforts to position InfoWorld as a core resource for this community have given us insights into a multifaceted group of individuals that currently fall into five major branches.
The dot-com CTO. We have all seen the impact this type of IT executive is having on the economy as a whole. What binds these people together is a fundamental realization that the technology is the business. Every aspect of their business operations is directly enabled by the technology platforms they choose. And without a firm grasp on the technology, they wouldn't be in business at all.
The e-business CTO. This type of CTO is not that fundamentally different from the dot-com CTO except in one major respect. This CTO typically works for Boeing co., General Motors Corp., or the Bank of New York. They usually work closely with the CIOs of those organizations to build the technology foundation that the whole company depends on. Unlike their dot-com colleagues, they have to spend an inordinate amount of time performing legacy system integration and other IT operations associated with traditional brick-and-mortar companies. At the same time, many of them are looking to the dot-com CTOs to find out how they can decrease the two-year adoption curve for technology platforms to help drive the business.
The internal infrastructure CTO. This is one of the fastest growing segments of the CTO community. In previous years, the only CTOs that fell into this category were people who worked for telecommunications companies. Today there are Internet service providers and all manner of applications pushing the IT envelope. In fact, this is one of the most stressful jobs in IT because a single miscue can have far-reaching implications for hundreds of customers.
The systems integrator CTO. Companies such as Scient and Ernst &Young rely heavily on their CTO to set the technology direction of their companies. The CTO, in turn, is extremely influential among the clients of these companies, who rely on systems integrators and consultants to align their business goals with their technology infrastructure.
The government CTO. It turns out that the U.S. government, particularly in the defense establishment, relies heavily on the judgment of its CTOs to set technical direction. As one of the largest segments of the IT community, the defense establishment frequently champions new technology development that later finds a broader application in commercial industry.
There is one other type of CTO. These folks are primarily engineers that work at software developer companies. As such, they tend to be an important part of the overall industry, but they themselves are not out creating IT architectures for a business. Instead, most of their energies are channeled into product development. So for the purpose of the CTO First Mover Directory, we have chosen not to include this group.
In the meantime, our CTO initiatives continue to gain momentum. The next two issues of CTO First Mover are scheduled for September and December. In addition, registration for the next national CTO Forum event, which will be held in the spring of 2001 in San Francisco, is scheduled to kick off beginning next month.
We look forward to seeing many of you at this event and in the pages of InfoWorld over the coming months.
Michael Vizard is editor in chief of InfoWorld.