CTO or CIO, what’s the diff?

Through our CTO Google alert there is often news included about who has been appointed as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of some organization. As savvy CTOs reading this blog you know your role and responsibilities as a CTO, and maybe you work with a CIO as well, but what is the difference and is there overlap?

Tech Republic gives the following breakdown between these two IT leadership roles

Chief Information Officer

  • Serves as the company’s top technology infrastructure manager
  • Runs the organization’s internal IT operations
  • Works to streamline business processes with technology
  • Focuses on internal customers (users and business units)
  • Collaborates and manages vendors that supply infrastructure solutions
  • Aligns the company’s IT infrastructure with business priorities
  • Developers strategies to increase the company’s bottom line (profitability)
  • Has to be a skilled and organized manager to be successful

Chief Technology Officer

  • Serves as the company’s top technology architect
  • Runs the organization’s engineering group
  • Uses technology to enhance the company’s product offerings
  • Focuses on external customers (buyers)
  • Collaborates and manages vendors that supply solutions to enhance the company’s product(s)
  • Aligns the company’s product architecture with business priorities
  • Develops strategies to increase the company’s top line (revenue)
  • Has to be a creative and innovative technologist to be successful

However, the article mentions this is the break down at larger companies, so maybe your role isn’t as defined as a CTO in smaller or startup companies.

This question of semantics came to mind in looking through news updates of female CTOs for this blog series. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. has named Bridget Engle Chief Information Officer and Senior Executive Vice President. The press release states, “In the new role, Engle leads the company’s Client Technology Solutions group, which provides critical technology platforms and applications.”

As we like to highlight female technologists who are killing it, we would like to congratulate Bridget in her new role and use this as a chance to explore what it means to be a tech leader. We’d love to hear from our members and supporters about how the CIO and CTO role work together and how they can learn from one another to build stronger organizations.