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November 30, 2017

The Changing Role of The CTO

Something you’ve likely never heard: “Well, technology has had a real issue keeping pace with the rate of human change.”  Moore’s law, a powerful truism in the realm of technological evolution, states that computing power can be expected to double every two years; this has been the case for over three decades and continues to persist.  Meanwhile, humans continue to work with roughly the same cranial hardware we were issued roughly half a million years ago!

As the Internet of Things purports that it will have our internet-connected coffee mug determine we’re near empty, place an order for a latte at a nearby Starbucks and reroutes our self-driving Tesla to the drive through, all the while, our brains are still fixated on an unsettling phone call with a member of our executive team or where we’re going mountain biking on the weekend.


Changing role of the CTO

changing role of the CTO in the workplace

CTO’s are the conductors of change


The pace of change being driven by technology is a force to be reckoned with- and CTO’s are the conductors of this ‘change train’!  Whether it’s a digital transformation of internal systems or product innovation and delivery in the marketplace, CTO’s are responsible for ensuring that change happens in a way that benefits everyone.  Jobs, profit and in some industries, even lives may depend on it.

We once supported a hospital in implementing an Electronic Medical Record system 9 figure, multi-year project.  I returned years later and noticed a wall-mounted monitor and keyboard we had implemented as part of the project folded up in an exam room collecting dust.  When asked, staff  shrugged and stated that the physicians, “simply didn’t find it to be an effective part of their workflow.”  Poor change management.

We’ve had multiple clients endeavor to implement popular CRM platforms only to have them summarily rejected by their sales staff and executives.  Poor change management.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that technology itself is almost a commodity when it comes to its actual utility.  Without people to build technology, sell it, implement it, use it and grow it, technology is nothing more than a side effect of progress.  The true value is realized when it is effected by and supported bychange.


How to deal with change as a CTO?

The role of a CTO is changing and a chief technology officer needs to understand how to identify, message and enact change on a daily basis.  A new ERP system might conceivably change not only every task that an employee completes on a daily basis, but the way in which it is completed from the C-suite down to the individual contributor.  Reconcile this with arguably some of the best coaches in the world who may focus on changing only one behavior in an eighteen month period.  With such a paradigm in play, clearly there is substantial risk for lost value when implementing technological innovations.

Therefore, a CTO needs to be mindful not only of the changes they bring to bear, but the rate of change that both their organization and their marketplace will tolerate.  Too slow and folks will become frustrated that they don’t have the latest and greatest.  Too fast and cries of ‘feature bloat’ and ‘bleeding edge’ can be heard echoing the halls.

How change is managed is the ultimate contributor to success of CTO’s when leveraging technology as a strategic differentiator.  Communicating early, often and in a style that is aligned with their audience can yield great results.  Enlisting the support of virtual or actual steering committees of Coaches, Marketing and PR Resources can help ensure buy-in and long term success for all.


Fractional CTO leadership service

People Driven Solutions can provide leadership, resources and guidance around Change Management to ensure technology is both a strategic differentiator and profit center for your organization. Contact us today to learn more at 855.NOW. PDSI or info@peopledriven.co.

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