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What is a Chief Technology Officer?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A chief technology officer is a top corporate executive who makes decisions regarding the development and application of new technologies. He or she often oversees engineers and technical professionals in the research and design of new products and systems. In addition, the chief technology officer often becomes involved in marketing and accounting strategies that utilize information technology (IT) systems. He or she meets regularly with other executives to discuss the success of the business and determine ways to improve profits. In order to fulfill the vast responsibilities of a chief technology officer, an individual must have very strong leadership, communication, and problem solving skills.

Chief technology officers are important executives at consumer goods manufacturers, IT firms, and private research organizations. Professionals who are employed by large corporations are responsible for supervising research and development personnel. Technology officers review research proposals, give directions to workers, and suggest ways to improve the design of products.

The chief technology officer also conducts market research and analyzes sales figures to determine areas that can be improved with technology applications. He or she may decide the corporation can reach a broader audience by constructing an interactive Web site and producing Internet advertising campaigns. Programmers and Web site developers work under the guidance of the chief technology officer to produce informative, attractive, computer-based marketing campaigns.

Other areas of a business are also dependent on the chief technology officer. He or she makes decisions regarding the purchase, upgrade, and maintenance of office computer systems. The officer often meets with IT managers to determine the need for new or better telecommunications systems and account management programs. In order to improve efficiency, provide better service, and ultimately increase profits, the chief technology officer often reviews input directly from customers.

A skilled technology officer may be able to obtain a job in a local, state, or federal government agency. A professional is involved in making public policy decisions regarding the use and availability of telecommunications systems. He or she also helps to enact new laws that provide better online security and identity protection for citizens.

Most chief technology officers hold master's degrees or higher in business administration, engineering, or computer science. They usually begin their careers in entry-level or assistant positions and advance to the rank of executive after gaining several years of experience and proving themselves to be excellent leaders. Many successful, experienced technology officers decide to pursue chief executive positions or start their own companies.

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Discussion Comments
By indemnifyme — On Jul 17, 2011

It's funny how different things are at large and small businesses. The office I work in is so small we definitely don't have anything like a chief technology officer.

Instead we contract out for a lot of our technology needs and we also have one person on the team that happens to be computer savvy. It's not really her job, but she makes a lot of the recommendations about what equipment and software to buy. I guess she's our honorary chief technology officer!

By ceilingcat — On Jul 16, 2011

I had no idea a job like this even exists, but I can see why it does. Technology plays such an important role in the success of businesses these days that this position is definitely necessary!

I think an important part of being a chief technology officer be keeping up with advances in their field. This seems like a job that would require a lot of reading of industry magazines and continuing education.

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