Chief technical officer

From Academic Kids

Chief Technical Officer or Chief Technology Officer, usually seen as CTO, is a business executive position whose holder is focused on technical issues in a company. It emerged in the United States in the 1980s as a business-focused extension of the position of Director of R&D. Large research-oriented companies like General Electric, AT&T, and ALCOA created this position to increase the profits yielded from research projects in their laboratories.

During the dot-com and computer boom of the 1990s, many companies used the CTO title for their senior technical person. The MIS and IT community often use the title CTO as either synonymous with Chief Information Officer, or as a subordinate to the CIO who is more versed in the technical intricacies of the systems being deployed. There is no uniform application of the title and some confusion is caused when people across domains discuss the role of this person. The role of the CTO varies between companies and industries, but usually relates to technology. The roles include:

  • Long term technology direction (strategic)
  • Short term technology direction (tactical)
  • Business-focused oversight of R&D
  • Software used in the corporation

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