Terms and Titles of Technology Management
Every company ultimately finds its own approach to managing information technology based on its unique personnel, budget and business needs. But there are some shared principles that dictate the same basic IT management structures at companies large and small.
Although job titles and responsibilities vary across companies and industries, here are some common technology management roles you'll find in all sorts of companies.
The Top Guns
- Chief Information Officer (CIO)
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
The CIO, CTO and CISO are a company's top technology gurus. IT executives in these positions are generally extremely ambitious and entrepreneurial, and often started by earning their bachelor's degrees in computer science or technology, and later attaining MBAs or master's degrees with a technology focus to further their careers.
Together, these three determine how technology will be used to keep the company thriving—and safe—in a competitive and challenging marketplace.
CIO: Mixing Business and Technology
The CIO reports directly to the CEO, and is responsible for the strategic direction of technology in a company. CIOs generally support the business and its operations, but the best CIOs are not only good at technology management, they are also great leaders and able to provide the vision for the direction of technology within a company. The job of the CIO continues to increase in complexity and importance as technology expands its reach as a critical component in every facet of running a business.
CTO: The Chief Computer Geek
The CTO is more concerned with the company's technology R&D. CTOs deal with system architecture, platforms, data processing, systems analysis, computer programming, etc. In many cases, especially in smaller companies, de facto CTOs don't even have that title, but they are in charge of developing the company's future technology.
To compare the top two roles in broad terms, the CIO is more business oriented, while the CTO is more technical, with an in-depth understanding of computer and information systems, what they do, and how they do it.
CISO: The Computer Security Expert
CISOs manage information system security and, should security systems fail, organize disaster recovery. CISOs are experts at systems and data security, Internet security, firewalls, passwords and encryption. With federal regulations requiring companies to protect consumers' personal information, CISOs have become ever more important. In some companies, the job may encompass more than information security to include responsibility for the security of facilities, employees and other assets (typically this is a Chief Security Officer role, or CSO).