Are you a newly appointed CTO? Have you recently promoted someone into a CTO role? Or perhaps hired someone externally to be accountable for overseeing the use of technology in your organisation?

At Gartner, we’re seeing the CTO role evolve in response to the demands of digital business. Digital business transformation is requiring more organisations to place a stronger focus on innovation and emerging technologies. To succeed in becoming a digital business means becoming a technology company. To become a technology company requires a technology visionary. Someone with a vision of how new technologies can transform the business model. In many cases, that technology visionary is a CTO.

CTOs are spending more time driving technology innovation

Gartner’s CTO survey revealed some intriguing insights into how the role of the CTO is currently changing. One key takeaway was that CTOs are spending of their time on technology innovation:

  • 59 per cent of respondents said their CTO leads a technology innovation program as a main focus of their role
  • 57 per cent of respondents revealed their CTO controls a dedicated emerging technology budget
  • 36 per cent of respondents indicated that their CTO leads an investment fund for tech startups within their organisation
  • 47 per cent of respondents stated that part of their CTO’s role is dedicated to the modernisation of core technology infrastructure as part of driving technology innovation.

However, this didn’t mean that responsibilities for daily IT operations have gone away. Most respondents indicated that they are juggling between operational needs with new digital initiatives.

Our survey also explored reporting structures. 42 per cent of respondents said their CTO reports to the CEO, while 27 per cent said their CTO reports to the CIO. 39 per cent of respondents also reported that their CTO is a peer of the CIO. We are seeing reporting structures where both the CTO and CIO report to the CEO becoming more common, rather than the CTO reporting to the CIO.

The Focus of the CTO Varies But Can Complement the CIO Role

In the age of digital business, the workload for IT leaders is continually expanding. It makes sense for CTOs and CIO to work together to ensure that both technology and the IT organisation are enablers, not barriers, to digital business transformation. The CTO role still remains a multi-faceted and complex one. The figure below shows the main areas in which we see CTOs focusing on to deliver value to their organisation. The extent to which they focus on these areas does vary significantly. In my next blog post, I’ll present the four most common CTO personas that Gartner has identified in end-user organizations and explain how you can use them to understand how the CTO role is changing.

The main areas of focus of the CTO role

If you are a CTO reading this, or work with CTOs, I would love to hear your point of view. What is the main focus of the CTO role and how is it changing? Who do you report to? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and I look forward to reading and responding to them!

In the meantime, if you can’t wait for the next blog post, here are some recent articles that share more of our current CTO research:

* This article is republished from the Gartner Blog Network with permission. 

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