Why does any company need a CTO? Formerly a position found primarily in tech start-ups and IT solution providers, the Chief Technology Officer is becoming a more common member of the C-level executive lineup in companies whose operations are not rooted in the tech sector.
The explanation can be found in the rapidly expanding role that technology plays in allowing all organizations to grow, succeed, and compete in today's knowledge-driven economy. The CTO is responsible for high-level attention to technology needs and projects within the company while remaining deeply knowledgeable about specific hardware and software tools and assets key to the success of the company's goals and competitive interests. The CTO is also continuously engaged externally with new technological trends, products, partners, and solutions that can be incorporated in the company's technology strategy to ensure its success.
For a print and fulfillment company, technology is the key to staying current with what our customers, partners, and solution providers require for us to stay relevant and competitive. As more of our customers require faster solutions available in more geographic locations, and with more options for digital fulfillment (such as digital asset management, print-on-demand (POD), secure PDF, and multiple-device fulfillment) our primary directive is to find better ways to do this with our existing technology investments and plan for purchasing, partnering, or building out new solutions to accomplish this in the coming years.
The key responsibilities for the CTO include:
- Keeping the company current and aligned with the best technology available.
- Assisting business development by showing where new trends and opportunities exist due to technological changes.
- Providing a public face for the company's technology initiatives by supporting sales, and cultivating credibility with customers and partners.
- Leading the technology team/division by inspiring team members toward the company's technical initiatives and larger goals, retaining top talent, and nurturing a culture conducive to attracting new engineering talent.
- Ensuring high quality customer service from the technology group to other divisions and groups within the company.
The CTO oversees the flow of information and technology in a cycle of continuous improvement for the company. From the beginning where existing tools and teams within the organization are optimized for efficiency and operational capacity, through to researching new trends and opportunities externally, to supporting sales and new business development, on to new customer implementations and adopting new technology platforms.
The CTO is leading out ahead at each phase of this cycle of improvement and helping the company navigate a landscape of exploding complexity with confidence, capacity, and courage.