SAN MATEO (04/18/2000) - No doubt about it, CTOs are hot. The buzz, though, has quickly turned into a debate about CTOs vs. CIOs. Is the CIO's job becoming obsolete? What's the difference, and who does what between the CTO and CIO? The issue isn't whether the new kid on the block is pushing out the old IT guard, but quite the contrary. The truth of the matter is that CTOs and CIOs are more like flip sides of the same coin. They are more complementary than adversarial.
InfoWorld Senior Research Editor Sean Dugan conducted a survey of 80 companies that have both a CIO and a CTO, or someone else who functions as chief technologist. When it comes to e-business, according to the survey, CTOs and CIOs share some functions, but with distinctions. Where the business goals and technology intersect, that's when the CTO takes the lead. For example, the CTO more frequently approves strategy and technology decisions and, consequently, is responsible for supervising technology implementations. And overwhelmingly, the CTO is the one recommending technology decisions.
In contrast, the CIO spends more time in the boardroom setting overall strategy and communicating decisions to executives. The CIO, on average, is more involved in setting business goals and negotiating with outsourcers. In general, while the CIO is concentrating on the 30,000-foot view, it's the CTO's job to separate technical fact from fiction.
This is important. It's the CTO's deep technical understanding combined with business savvy that results in the successful delivery of solid e-business implementations.
And the only way brick-and-mortar companies can hope to narrow the gap -- let alone win the race -- against the dot-coms is by giving CTOs a seat at the table. Just as the Internet has changed business, so has it changed the face and leadership of IT. Instead of CTOs and CIOs vying for one top technology position, there will be two positions with the CTO and CIO in peer roles.
Having both leaders on the executive team is a winning combination, with the CTO focused outward toward customers and the CIO focused inward on IT operations.
By now you may be asking yourself, "Who is this person and why does she care so much about CTOs?" I'll tell ya. For the past few months, I have done almost nothing but live, eat, and breathe CTO while working on the committee that's organizing InfoWorld's upcoming CTO Forum, May 15-17 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The theme of this invitation-only event is "Turning Internet Hype into Business Reality."
At the conference, 125 of the country's top CTOs will get the opportunity to network with their peers and discuss burning e-business issues.
For more information about CTO Forum and to request an invitation, go to www.infoworld.com/ctoforum.
In addition, I've been managing a new quarterly supplement called CTO FirstMover, which will debut May 15 at CTO Forum. InfoWorld was the first to recognize the importance of the CTO as a driver of the e-business revolution.
To that end, you've seen regular coverage of CTOs and e-business already in the pages of InfoWorld.
With CTO FirstMover, we're extending our editorial and will be arming readers with the information they need to lead and manage the convergence of business and technology. The supplement will help CTOs put business goals into practice using technology to compete in the new digital economy.
Siobhan Santinelli is Executive Editor/Features at InfoWorld. Send her e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Editor in Chief Michael Vizard will return to this space in a few weeks.