The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic impact have hurt many companies, especially small businesses. However, for others, the jarring challenges this year have created opportunities and accelerated changes that were probably going to occur all along.
One particular area of speedy transformation is technology. It has never been more important for businesses to wield their internal information technology (IT) effectively, enable customers and vendors to easily interact with those systems, and make the most of artificial intelligence and ‘big data’ to spot trends.
Accomplishing all this is a tall order for even the most energetic business owner or chief executive officer. That is why many companies end up creating one or more tech-specific executive positions. Assuming you do not already employ such an individual, should you consider adding an IT executive? Perhaps so.
Three Common Positions
There are three commonly used position titles for technology executives:
- Chief Information Officer (CIO): This person is typically responsible for managing a company’s internal IT infrastructure and operations. In fact, an easy way to remember the purpose of this position is to replace the word ‘Information’ with ‘Internal.’ A CIO’s job is to oversee the purchase, implementation, and proper use of technological systems and products that will increase the efficiency and productivity of the business.
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO): In contrast to a CIO, a CTO focuses on external processes — specifically, with customers and vendors. This person usually oversees the development and eventual production of technological products or services that will meet customer needs and increase revenue. The position demands the ability to remain engaged in innovation and advancements through constant research into tech trends while also being highly collaborative with employees and vendors.
- Chief Digital Officer (CDO): For some companies, the CIO and/or CTO are so busy with their respective job duties that they are unable to think strategically. This is where a CDO typically comes into play. His or her primary objective is to spot new markets, channels, or even business models that the company can target, explore, and perhaps eventually profit from. So, while a CIO looks internally and a CTO looks externally, a CDO’s gaze is set on a more distant horizon.
Costs vs. Benefits
As mentioned, these are three of the most common IT executive positions. Their specific objectives and job duties may vary depending on the business in question, and they are by no means the only examples of such positions. There are many variations, including Chief Marketing Technologist and Chief Information Security Officer.
So, getting back to our original question: is this a good time to add one or more of these executives to your staff? The answer very much depends on the financial strength and projected direction of your company. These positions will call for major expenditures in hiring, payroll, and benefits. Our firm can help you weigh the costs versus benefits.