The chief technology officer (CTO) position or a technology manager role is not a management fad. It has a critical integrating role in an environment where technological changes are dynamic.
Various industry leaders and visionaries have highlighted that fact that the rare resource of technology needs to be managed effectively. Similar to scarce resources that companies rely on such as human and financial capital, technology is also scarce and vital. CTOs are corporate executives responsible and accountable for their firm’s Technology Management practices.
In practice, there are many names given to CTO-type positions such as technical director, technology director, chief scientist. Some other names are vice president of R&D and innovation director. In some cases, the chief information officer (CIO) provide technical input at a senior level. Elsewhere, limited IT specific practices, rather than the broader range of technologies that a firm may rely on.
What’s in it for me?
- The tasks performed by a CTO
- What did a survey on technology managers reveal?
- Why does your company need a full-time technology manager?
The main roles/tasks of the CTO:
- CTOs establish coordination of technological efforts among business units and come rate research to ensure synergy and economies of scale. To avoid duplication of technological efforts between business units this task is essential. It also facilitates the transfer of technology from one to the other.
- Every CTO represents technology within the top management by providing expert opinion on technological questions. He/she also recommends a long-term view of technology and fosters infant technology development projects.
- The CTO or the technology manager is also responsible for monitoring the technological advances. In order to capture the developments in technology fields that might impact on company operations it is important.
- CTOs supervise R&D labs and other technology development units. Therefore, one task of the CTO is managing teams that participate in projects.
- CTOs and technology managers assess technological aspects of major strategic initiatives. This includes the assessment of the technological implications of proposed acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances and lines of business. Technology assessment also includes the assessment of long-term trends in pertinent technologies
The supporting roles/tasks of the CTO
- All CTOs usually manage the relationship of the company with technological actors in the external technology environment. These are universities and regulatory agencies. The main tasks related to research organizations are to provide guidelines for the research. The corporation sponsors them and gathers intelligence on important technical developments. The tasks related to regulatory agencies are to make sure that the innovations of the corporation comply with regulations. It should also be in compliance with identifying trends in regulatory constraints. Managing the efforts of the corporation to influence the regulatory process is also vital.
- Marketing and media relations should also include in CTOs sometimes. The attention of the media to the products of the company is crucial for the success of those products. We know media relations are usually pursued by the marketing department. But when the focal product is a technological one, this is not the case. CTOS can communicate with the media to build the image of these products. This is because he/she is probably the one who knows most about the capabilities and technical features of the product.
What did a survey on technology managers reveal?
Having a CTO or a Technology Manager affects the performance of your company. A survey was done on 49 electronic and machinery firms in Turkey. We found that CTO roles are performed in varying degrees. This was the case even when the CTO position did not prevail. As per the results, it is sure that performing decisional CTO roles increases profitability of firms. These roles include disturbance handler, entrepreneur, negotiator and resource allocator. The educational background of a manager carrying out CTO roles strengthens this positive impact. The informational roles of a CTO (monitor, disseminator and spokesperson) result in a positive impact on profitability. However, this requires frequent communication between CTO and CEO.
Regardless of being a CTO or not, there is demand for technology managers. The wide recognition is that TM is mainly a profession for companies developing technologies is false. Even manufacturing companies that are utilizing technologies are not the only one that need technology managers . But the impact of technology is pervasive across all sectors and it is blurring all the borders among them.
Why does your company need a full-time technology manager?
Given the dynamic nature of how technology evolves, the diffusion of technology is evident across many service sectors. For example, technology diffusion in health care, telecommunications (such as voice over the Internet), wireless broadband. Mobile banking, online media, online publishing, digital marketing and genetic engineering are some other examples.
The formation and growth of new technology-based firms have increased the demand for technology managers. Also, the development and implementation of new technologies in large MNCs have contributed to the increase in demand. Many professions might also need to expand their skills to understand Technology Management. It is important so that they can practice their own professions such as university technology transfer licensing officer and scientists. Now it also essential for engineers, corporate executives and independent entrepreneurs.
Due to the reasons above, it does not matter which industry you are in. Your company definitely needs a technology manager in the near future. It is important to effectively manage the technological assets of your company. To actually gain a sustainable competitive advantage, an experienced Technology Manager is crucial for your organization. He/she will help you in managing the organization’s technological assets. He/she will also make sure that the technology strategy goals are aligned with the goals of your corporate strategy. To summarize, he/she will be responsible for carrying out the technology management activities and supervising the technology management tools like Patent Analysis, S-Cruve, etc. for your business.
Technology cannot solve every problem in society. But there are very few problems that can be solved without proper utilization of technology. Proper utilization requires proper management. That is what this discipline does. Those who manage technology will be the winners in the coming generations. Those who are managed by technology will be left in the footnotes of history. The challenge awaiting us is to make sure that our societies will be among the winners. If you wish to learn more you can check out my blog on Technology Management.