CIO/CISO/CTO/CDO : What's the difference

The C-Suite has seen the addition of new roles in recent history. All of which relate to the continuing advancement of Technology in our day to day lives. As businesses rely heavily on digital marketing, cybersecurity threat protection or machine learning the addition of the CIO, CISO and CTO have created a new dynamic and hierarchy within modern day enterprises.

You're probably wondering where these new roles fit in the traditional suite. Answers vary depending on who you ask or which organization you research. Regardless, they each play a vital role in maintaining a competitive edge and ultimately determining the success of an organization.

Although each share a common goal, they also have key distinctions for their roles. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has a broader description of job details, in my opinion. According to SecureWorldExpo, the main focus of a CTO includes R&D, implementing new technologies, creating business models and using analytics to stay aligned with the target market. Some of these functions may seem similar to that of a CIO, especially if you're in a smaller organization. The CTO position branched-off the original role of the CIO as technology advanced, thus requiring more refined attention to certain projects within IT.

Today's Chief Information Officer (CIO) is focused on maintaining a competitive edge for the organization specifically through technology. As we see more cloud implementation, mobile sites and third-party software, the role of the CIO acts as an umbrella over a multitude of IT projects. Keeping all technology up to date, predicting the future direction of technology and working towards staying ahead of the organizations competition while creating a larger ROI percentage. CIO's often deal with every department within an organization as technology is being implemented across the board to help simplify processes, make sense of data and improve communication.

The last position is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and tends to be more known than the other two due to recent events in the news surrounding data breaches. The role of CISO has typically been rooted in cyber defense and has led to these executives taking on all the heat when a ransomware attack or Data breach occurs. We're seeing the this position evolve more in to a mentor role where CISO's educate the various departments within the organization on cyber security, compliance and regulations to limit "attacks." This role has also seen a business-savvy element where the CISO addresses the board.

The most recent addition of the suite is the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) which shouldn't be a surprise given the massive amount of data we create and consume these days. The CDO drives the business in Digital Transformation on the back-end, but also the front-end where it directly relates to the consumer in areas like social media and mobile apps. With stricter regulations being introduced around data, we can expect to see the CDO's responsibilities change a bit quicker than others in the coming years. There's a reason McKinsey & Co. has dubbed this role the "Tranformer in Chief."

At first glance, these roles may seem similar to those not so familiar with IT, but I hope this article helps differentiate them. Each of these executives has found themselves becoming more business-savvy as companies share the ownership of implementing new strategies. We can expect to see the roles of the four continue to expand and grow in importance as our world continues to utilize technology in all aspects of everyday life, regardless of what industry we're in.

Latest Posts