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The Challenges of Being a CTO in a Digital World

Principal Consultant, Finance Transformation
Principal Consultant, Finance Transformation
I have been in the recruitment industry for 8 years spending much of this time helping organisations hire mid- senior leadership and board level Finance positions. I now work with Transformation leaders to define, design and deliver Transformation programmes delivering statements of work mapped to outcomes. Typical mandates include Transformation Director, Program Director, Change Manager and PMO. These mandates are within a range of organisations from PE/VC backed scale-up organisations to the FTSE250.

The increasing speed of technological change has made it critical for companies to stay ahead of trends and anticipate disruptions to avoid diminishing performance and competitiveness. As a result, businesses have dedicated more resources in recent times to developing their technological capabilities to keep up with their peers or forge ahead of them, with one role becoming increasingly important to organisations regardless of their size or industry – the CTO. 

Why do Companies need a Chief Technology Officer?

A CTO’s primary role is to ensure that a company’s tech strategy aligns with its overall goals, ensuring that any technology will factor into and support key business decisions. They blend knowledge of existing and emerging technology to provide a business with the optimal solutions possible for the future. The CTO must not only manage the company’s current tech solutions, but also be aware of new technology and work on integrating these new solutions and solving problems. In recent years, there has also been an increased focus on customer experience and satisfaction, with companies needing a CTO who can deliver these cultural changes through tech upgrades.

What does Digital mean to a CTO?

The digital world has changed many roles forever and CTOs are no exception. Digital transformation has become top of the list of priorities for many companies. Organisations in every sector are trying to find the best way to embrace new technologies so they can improve processes, make better decisions and stay ahead of the game. Because digital transformation touches every part of a business, it needs to be championed and led by the whole senior leadership team. A CTO is often the ‘bridge builder’ between the technical components of a transformation strategy and how they apply to the people and process within the organisation.

The Challenges a CTO Faces in the Digital World 

As we have all experienced with tech on a personal level, there can be a number of challenges appear as more services go digital. A CTO needs to anticipate where possible and meet these head on.

Identifying the Right Approach

A CTO needs to have a clear understanding of how any digital transformation programme will be planned and executed, which can be a challenge because many organisations know that change needs to take place, but they don’t fully understand why or how to get there. Getting this right can be the difference between a successful transformation and a failed one.

Getting the Support of Others in the Organisation

Companies often get so caught up with adopting technology and processes that they end up forgetting about one of the most important drivers for change – people. When an organisation announces that they’re going to become more efficient and offer a better customer experience, its staff often hear, “We’re cutting jobs and replacing you with software.” 

One of the challenges for a CTO is too allay those fears and foster some excitement and confidence in the proposed new direction or tech adoption. With the right understanding, approach and leadership, businesses can be steered into a culture of continuous improvement which will enable them to drive change and deliver value.

Focusing on ‘Customer’ Engagement 

Whether a business has a physical product or offers a service to clients, the ‘user’ experience is becoming ever more important and CTO’s need to be able to use tech to improve engagement with their ‘customers’. This could be in the form of an easy-to-use app or a software platform that speeds up processes behind the scenes. Whichever way the adopted technology affects the client, the CTO needs to maximise this benefit.

Recruiting the Best Talent

As technologies continue to evolve faster than people can adapt and be trained on them, skill shortages will continue to be a challenge for a CTO. Specialist talent will always be hard to come by, but by staying at the forefront of transformation, a business can foster a company culture that is attractive to the right tech professionals.

If your business is undergoing digital transformation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Consultancy Group and we’ll be happy to help.

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