CIO vs CTO – Know your IT Roles

CIO vs CTO – Know your IT Roles

“When you start talking about IT leadership roles and IT career tracks, the question that almost always comes up is “What’s the difference between the CIO and CTO positions?”

Here’s a quick breakdown of the distinguishing characteristics of those two roles.

Chief Information Officer – Defined

  • 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 – Defined

  • 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

Which Should I Choose to Employ – a CIO or CTO?

For all of the aforementioned duties to work, the underlying operating platform needs to be agile and plugged into the needs of key business stakeholders—all of which fall under the strategic remit of the CIO. In the age of digital disruption, the success of any business is highly dependent on these two complementary roles and their ability to deliver exactly what the business needs at precisely the right moment.

It is difficult to say which is better and for whom – but it is safe to say that a close working relationship between CIO and CTO is vital.

Keen to outsource your CIO or CTO roles? Click here to get in touch with us today!


CIO vs CISO – Who Does What?

CIO vs CISO – Who Does What?

“Every organization handles security differently, based on their needs and internal structure—but in some mid to large sized companies, both the chief information officer (CIO) and the chief information security officer (CISO) are involved.

The relationship between the CIO and the CISO is something that is often described as “sometimes adversarial” but “ever-evolving.” This is often due to the fact that CIOs and CISO aren’t always considered true peers; in some organizations, the CISO reports into the CIO’s business unit, causing a potential conflict of interest.

That being said, fostering a strong relationship between these two roles is simply critical in managing security and risk.

CIO VS. CISO: Who Does What?

CIO Role

Traditionally, CIOs have always had an information systems and digital management focus. They are the owners of the IT side of the enterprise and typically support the business with technology solutions. Today, CIOs help companies turn away from legacy solutions and out-dated processes in an effort to modernize technology in their organizations and always consider how to make processes more efficient. More recently, the role has evolved to include more cyber security-related tasks. Security tools are now frequently used in IT operations and embedded in day-to-day IT activities and processes. The CIO may, for example, ensure there is a secure process for Internet-of-Things-enabled applications in an organization—or they may look at how other organizations are handling their cyber security to benchmark their own organization’s performance using a security tool.


The CISO’s role is all about managing information security risk throughout the data lifecycle. This individual needs to know where the critical data is located, what the company’s risk threshold is should the data become compromised, and how to protect this data while supporting the business’ objectives. CISOs are instrumental in defining and implementing a risk management framework to properly govern, evaluate, and respond to risks involving the company’s protected data. They are also heavily involved in vendor risk management (VRM) of the organization’s third and fourth parties—for example, ensuring critical data is only accessible to those who need access to perform required tasks.

CISOs have, at times, held a reputation for being something of a “no” man—frequently rejecting what they consider to be unnecessary business risks—so some organizations simply cut them out of the decision-making process. With the rise of cybercrime and the evolving threat landscape, this scenario should be avoided. Today’s CISO should have a firm grasp on how to report on the risk environment both holistically and within the organization in order to give the board of directors the information it needs to make decisions.

CIO and CISO Working Together

Both the CIO and the CISO are there to protect and manage assets and information, but from two different viewpoints—and that’s a good thing. For example, today, the CIO’s function is to ensure systems and information available and accessible to whomever needs it—and the CISO’s function is to ensure proper controls are in place so that only those who actually need access to information are able, and the information stays where it is supposed to be.

A key part of maintaining a solid CIO-CISO relationship is ensuring that neither party blindsides the other. For instance, if the CIO takes information to a board meeting that seemingly “blasts” the security side of the organization without the CISO’s prior knowledge, that’s a quick way to erode the partnership. The only thing this will accomplish is cementing an “us vs. them” or a “CIO vs. CISO” mentality—which is futile. Be sure lines of communication are open and regularly used throughout this working relationship.”

What Does A CIO Do?

CIOs in large organizations typically delegate the oversight of day-to-day IT operations to a technology deputy and rely on a team of specialists to manage specific areas of IT. The role of the CIO continues to rapidly evolve as organizations become more digital.

The chief information officer at one organization could have an entirely different set of responsibilities from the CIO down the street. A very high-level definition describes CIO as “a job title commonly given to the person in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals.” It is the CIO’s job to innovate, collaborate, balance the IT budget and motivate IT staff.


What Does a CISO Do?

A CISO’s job is to increase shareholder value by protecting the company’s market share, revenue and brand. In order to win management support for security, they need to show how they have prioritized, modeled and priced risk. For each new project, they need to identify, analyze and evaluate the risks, measure the costs of securing the services and present viable options. This information helps decide how to allocate resources and also proves the CISO’s value to the company.

It’s important for CISO’s to prioritize what’s most important to the company and what generates the most revenue, then apply the appropriate security for that piece of the corporate world. They need to be able to develop a strategy for an overall architecture and delegate the technical responsibilities, all while still providing guidance and oversight.


Why both a CIO and CISO?

The CIO and CISO have different goals and are measured on whether or not they accomplish those differing goals. Though they may often be on the same page, they are going to disagree on occasion and tensions will sometimes flare. Should the CIO have the final say when that happens?

If a CISO reports directly to the CIO then they might argue that their advice is only being taken whenever and wherever it doesn’t directly contradict whatever the CIO already wants to do. While their CIOs would likely reply that they deviate from the CISO’s recommendations only when those recommendations would unnecessarily hamper performance and growth.

This suggests that an organization is better off from a security perspective when the CISO does not report directly to the CIO.

This doesn’t mean the CISO can’t be effective when answering to the CIO, just that the natural tension that exists between their roles is less likely to surface when it’s contained within the IT structure. If the CEO and Board aren’t aware when the CIO and CISO disagree, it’s then all on the CIO to determine which path to take between their differing viewpoints.

While their roles are entirely intertwined, it is always a great idea to have two similar minds on board rather than just one.


Need some help selecting CIO roles within your business? Get in touch with us today!

h/t to for this informative article!

outsourced CIO

Outsourced IT – Why You Need to Consider an Outsourced CIO

Outsourced IT – Why You Need to Consider an Outsourced CIO

Outsourced IT has come from the ever growing demand for off-site, qualified management of enterprise’s IT needs. With the introduction of more and more off-site and home-based offices, business owners are wising-up to the benefits of not requiring overheads, fixed hours and permanent, designated staff.

The IT sector has seen the biggest leap: however, to understand why outsourcing a CIO may be advantageous to you, it is best we start by understanding both the terminologies, as well as the roles and responsibilities associated with being one.


What is a CIO?

You might be surprised – as would most of the general populous – to discover that the role of CIO has been around since the late 1980’s. The advent of the innovation of the PC (debuted in the 1930’s) saw an immediate gap in the market for the control and management of data.

We’re so accustomed to hearing about CFO’s, CEO’s, even COO’s, but what exactly is a CIO and what does he or she do on a daily basis? A quick Google search reveals that a CIO – or Chief Information Officer – is “an executive job title commonly given to the person at an enterprise in charge of information technology (IT) strategy and the computer systems required to support an enterprise’s objectives and goals.”

All fair and well, but what do they do in a regular workday? Just as it is impossible to outline the roles and responsibilities of a CFO or CEO, it is equally impossible to do so for a CIO.

“Back in the day”, the role of CIO was primarily a technical job; nowadays, with the growth of the functionality of computers and growing awareness of data safety – the role has grown to encompass educating executive management and employees on the business value and risk IT systems hold for an enterprise. A CIO would typically oversee a team of specialists for specific IT tasks, and have a deputy IT manager oversee (more closely) the functionality of either their own enterprise – or that of their clients. Not only do CIO’s need to be reactive, they require a high level of pro-activeness in their daily responsibilities. Pre-empting possible cyber-attacks, preventing heinous backlogs that could cause far-reaching issues – all bundled neatly along with the ability to oversee a high paced environment with a team of individuals who are under considerably high stress is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to defining a CIO’s role.


What does it take to be a great CIO?

  • Flawless execution strategy
  • Strategic and tactical thinking
  • Forward thinking
  • Great team leader
  • Knowledge of current systems
  • Flexibility
  • An understanding that the IT sector does not sleep – dedication to show up whenever necessary to prevent disastrous situations


Why Does Your Company Need a CIO?

Understanding the “age” we are in – the age of instant gratification, constant online presence and the need to always be one step ahead of our competitors lends a keen insight into knowing the value of a CIO.

You hire a qualified individual – who studied for an average of close on 5 years to earn his or her rank as CFO – in charge of your finances. You have a COO overseeing your day-to-day activities, someone who has likely been with the business for eons in order to earn that rank and understanding of your daily operational requirements, or perhaps has studied management of the specific field you’re in.

Why would you not have someone in charge and closely overseeing your daily IT requirements, as well as long-term strategies? Someone who will ensure that your business is, at no stage, under any threat of the compromising of sensitive data? A trained individual who will monitor your monthly IT budget, manage all related projects, analyse customer engagement, strategize your offerings and basically give your company the upper hand?

The answer is usually one word; money. Any company, whether small, medium, or corporate, usually has some form of financial restrictions imposed to save the company money which is not necessarily deemed necessary.

What we like to do is encourage our clients to determine the cost (both financial, time and setback) of a worst-case scenario – possible with the absence of a CIO. How badly would your business be set back if you were to fall victim to a ransom ware attack?

This article by Forbes outlines the latest malware to hit our screens – a (possibly) worse attack than the notorious WannaCry, which targeted in excess of 200 000 users in its first day. The latest ransom ware – namely Petya – is set to the far worse than it’s WannaCry predecessor. Circling back to our initial suggestion – how much time, effort, money, human resource and a general major setback would it cause you and your company if something similar were to affect you? Those client files, dating back to 1999 are all encrypted; you have a deadline looming, which you simply cannot work on because – well – there are no workable files. The knock-on effect this can have on any company is almost unimaginable.


If you fall into the school of thought which stands firm in the belief that IT is the least necessary department, and an executive to oversee said department is a luxury afforded to few – we would like to challenge you to reassess your stance. It is easy to liken the addition of a CIO to that of taking out insurance – it is undoubtedly a grudge purchase – but in the event of something going wrong – you have provided yourself with an inedible catch net to prevent disaster.

Hiring a CIO need not cost you a fortune; instead of option got take on a full-time executive, did you know there is an easy way to procure this type of talent and not even need to screen the candidate yourself?

Ahh, the beauty of the modern age. An outsourced CIO will lend years of expertise, wisdom and knowledge to his or her role, at a fraction of the cost. They have already set up their teams, or can make use of your own already-standing IT department, to maximise your growth and drastically cut potential threats.


If you are interested in outsourcing your CIO, why not get in touch? Your risk/ reward ratio is undeniably in your favour when outsourcing into a one-stop IT package. Allow us to make your life better in ways you have never imagined.


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