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From CDO to CTIO – what tech leader job titles really mean, and who calls the shots  


In your organisation, do you have a CIO? A CTO? A CTIO? We provide a quick guide to the leading functions in IT and the distinctions in between them.


  • Lily Haake, Harvey Nash, part of Nash Squared

Released: 21 Mar 2023

In your organisation, do you have a CIO? A CTO? A CTIO, maybe?

Innovation is well-known for its acronym-laden selection of task titles. Nearly like software application code they appear to keep on multiplying. This is doubtless due to the fact that innovation is itself such a fast-moving location– as the field of obligations and concerns keeps moving and establishing, so task titles keep progressing too. In current times, we’ve begun to see all sorts of brand-new functions and titles developed– even encompassing Chief Robotics Officer and VP of Future.

The outcome is that every service appears to have a nearly distinct mix of post-holders and titles. As an employer of senior tech experts, I see a number of typical styles and linkages in between the essential figures. Here is a list of 8 of the leading tech leader task titles– and what they indicate and how they inter-relate.

1. CIO — We begin with the traditional primary position– the Chief Information Officer, typically accountable for all IT within an organisation. In the majority of FTSE and Fortune companies, you will still discover a CIO at the top of the innovation tree. Of course, the function has actually been altering as innovation has actually broadened from back-office IT systems run through on-premise servers to take in cloud, digital and more open, outward-facing platforms. The CIO will set the method for IT, and they typically rest on the Operating Board (65% of them do according to the current Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report). If they do not rest on the Operating Board, they’ll report into it. They take care of, and lead, whatever from applications, facilities and cloud to projects/products, development and modification. The CIO typically likewise has IT security, information and digital within their quick, although these might often fall beyond their remit.

2. CDO (Digital) — There are 2 primary and emerging ‘oppositions’ to the supremacy of the CIO (or the CIO name) as innovation modifications, expands and ends up being more prevalent throughout organisations– among these is the Chief Digital Officer, while the other is the CTO (next on my list). There will either be a CIO or a CDO or a CTO. What’s the distinction? The CDO might recommend that the leader has more predisposition towards customer-facing innovations– they may be more concentrated on profits generation or marketing and marketing innovation. They tend to be positive and extremely concentrated on development. It is real that some CDOs sit together with a CIO, where the CIO handles internal systems and facilities and the CDO focuses on the online world– web, mobile, marketing, websites. In this circumstances, the CDO may be more senior, more junior, or a peer to the CIO depending upon the context.

3. CTO — Like CDOs, Chief Technology Officers are quite increasing. Especially in innovation business themselves and in start-ups, you are most likely to discover a CTO at the head of the ship instead of a CIO, and this is likewise the case in lots of tradition services who are intending to change themselves into technology-led organisations: the focus on innovation in the title much better shows the broader quick these days’s digital leader. The CTO function is extremely much ‘of our times’. There once again, the CTO might likewise be a second to the CIO who leads all of innovation, architecture and/or software application engineering. In the past the CTO likewise utilized to describe the leading leader in facilities, however we see that less typically now.

4. CDO (Data) — With information so important to service efficiency and customer-centricity, the Chief Data Officer has an essential function. The CDO in some cases reports into the CIO – however might report to the CEO or COO rather. The CDO will lead information method, governance, analytics, BI and reporting, information development and monetisation. Information is frequently comprehended to be the issue of the whole organisation, and as such lots of CDOs feel that being siloed within the innovation function does not permit them to be most reliable. That stated, more just recently we’ve seen that in the advanced organisations with cloud based, item and platform cultures, the CDO might have turned up the information engineering path and will be quite a technologist– they will gladly being in the tech function and lead groups of information engineers to develop platforms and items and make it possible for real-time streaming.

5. CISO — Like the CDO (Data), this is another function that is fairly unambiguous in its scope. The Chief Information Security Officer is the leader in the crucial locations of cyber, info and innovation security. They will lead the organisation’s technique to secure versus the growing hazard of cyber attacks, and recuperate quickly from those that do take place. They will continuously assess danger. The CISO might report into the CIO, however they might likewise be a peer to them, reporting into the COO (or perhaps the CFO) rather. Like information, security is an issue for the whole organisation and as such it can be advantageous for the CISO to have a peer relationship with other service executives.

6. CPO — The Chief Product Officer leads on total (digital) item method and ownership for business. They are typically a peer to the CIO/CTO. Historically, the CPO has actually primarily been discovered in innovation business and start-ups, however as all companies progress into technology-first organisations with clients at their heart, the CPO function is on the increase. This individual will be accountable for lining up the item method to business method, and is eventually responsible for guaranteeing all items within the organisation achieve success and lucrative.

The hybrid functions

7. CTIO — Hybrid functions have actually been quite growing just recently, specifically on top end. Rather of having ‘simply’ a CIO or CDO or CTO, Chief Technology & & Information Officers are ending up being more typical. It’s a function that integrates responsibility for IT with technology/product shipment. The CTIO will function as an internal consultant to the Board on info technique, facilities and systems in addition to being the leader in brand-new item advancement with an eye to the future and a horizon-scanning frame of mind.

8. CDIO — Another hybrid option is the Chief Digital & & Information Officer (or often without the ‘and’– Chief Digital Information Officer!) integrating responsibility for IT with digital. It’s a mix of internal IT with web, mobile, digital and possibly marketing too.

What’s your all-star team?

Obviously, there are no ‘best’ responses or mixes to the tech management puzzle. There is no encyclopaedia of tech management functions together with an useful set of guidelines.

For the majority of organisations the genuine concern is ‘how do we increase business worth we can develop from innovation?’ Various organisations might concentrate on various things: for some it might be consumers and brand-new items; for others it might be information, and for numerous it may be merely to make sure effective operations. Each focus brings with it a various ‘champ’ and resulting reporting lines.

For a Digital Leader, whatever flavour you are, comprehending where this worth is produced is crucial to opening possible in your business, and your profession.

By Lily Haake, Harvey Nash, part of Nash Squared

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