While both roles are essential, there are critical differences between the positions. Both from a technical perspective and in the sense of offering services to your company, organization, or business. So, what do you need to know before hiring one of these positions? What Is the difference between a CTO and an IT consultant?
By Iffy Kukkoo
05 Aug, 2023
While both roles are essential, there are critical differences between the positions. Both in a technical perspective and in the sense of offering services to your company, organization, or business. So, what do you need to know before hiring one of these positions? What Is the difference between a CTO and an IT consultant?
Let’s get into this, and first, break down both of the roles!
Commonly referred to as a CTO, the Chief Technology Officer position involves managing the organization’s technological needs and often its research and development sector (R&D).
In most cases, this is an executive position within a company meaning the person will report directly to the CEO of the organization.
While in this role, short, medium and long-term technology needs for an organization need to be accessed, with the main focus to reach the desired technological goals set out.
Previously, the role of the CTO was performed by a Chief Information Officer (CIO). As technology increases in demand, the CIO role was split into two roles.
The CIO mainly focuses on a technology-focused role while the CTO focuses on the strategic planning side. This involves developing strategies to increase revenue and perform a cost-benefit analysis while also focusing on return-on-investment within the business.
Large organizations or more prominent companies usually hire both these positions. Smaller companies might focus on something like an IT consultant, but we will get into this a little later.
Want to learn more about consultancy? Have a look at our blog post on the Evolution of Banking and Frauds!
Are There Different Types of Chief Technology Officers?
Depending on the sector, the responsibilities of the CTO could change. The importance of A CTO has increased in previous years due to the rise in information technology. Therefore, it has become a critical role in maintaining a business and developing one as well.
Let’s drive into the different types of CTOs.
Infrastructure CTOs- This type of CTO will typically oversee a more technical side of a business. Focusing on data, security, maintenance, and the network of the company. This could also factor in the organization’s technical strategy. Concerning the companies infrastructure, a technological roadmap could also be accessed.
Planner CTOs - This type of CTO will mainly focus on the technology used in the company or organization while also planning its technology strategy. Different technology systems might also need to be implemented to ensure the business's success, which a planner CTO will conduct.
Consumer-Focused - In many cases a CTO may be required for more customer relation solutions. Getting an idea of the typical customer and target market could be critical as any in-house projects or developments could be taken to the general marketplace to sell.
Thinker - A thinker CTO could be more focused on strategy within a business. Focusing on the technical side, analyzing markets, and creating business models that can be used from top to bottom within the organization.
While a CTO may focus on different sectors, the skills needed to become one are universal. So what do you need to become a CTO?
Communication - Communication is one of the essential tools a CTO can have. A CTO’s role in many cases can be focused on helping people that are less technical and need upskilling so the business can achieve its technological business goals.
Leadership Skills - Being in an executive role means that leadership skills are going to be required. While investing in specific technologies, CTOs, in many cases, will have to inspire various teams to fulfill the companies goals and vision.
Business Development - Being a CTO involves countless situations where your focus will be based on developing the business further. Keeping on top of industry trends and new upcoming technologies could be vital to a CTO’s success. A company always needs to stay competitive and stay ahead of its competition.
Financial Skills - Being a CTO requires knowledge when it comes to project managing and financing those projects. This also comes into play when implementing new software and technologies, as in many cases, this will cost your company big bucks depending on the technology being installed. A CTO is always going to need to budget for the organization’s needs effectively.
Simply put, an IT consultant’s job is to keep your business competing in their retrospective industries and sectors using the power of IT. This usually involves investigating, planning, implementing and commissioning the latest IT technologies, so your business is up to date with the best practices in the short, medium and long-term.
Think! How does IT meet business goals, what should make this happen in as seamless manner as possible is your IT Consultant.
With their expertise in IT consultancy, their operations focus on evaluating existing processes to overcome problems and meet your business goals. This in many cases includes solving problems and providing solutions.
An IT Consultant should be able to provide the following services:
● Staff training and upskilling
● Procurement services
● Business process and strategy mapping
● Technical assistance
● Project and software implementation
● Be on there client’s side when engaging 3rd parties
As a business, if you are going to implement a process or a technological system, then a multi-object approach is needed. An IT consultant can efficiently complete this.
An IT Consultant can improve your business in many ways.
Getting to Know Your Business - When hiring an IT Consultant, their main job is to learn about your business inside out. They need to take an analytic approach to your business, which can only be done by learning about your companies’ processes, goals and how you operate.
An IT Consultant needs to learn about your needs, goals, and objectives to ensure that your demands and vision are being met.
Improving Your IT Budget & Strategies - Once they know about your business's operations, their next objective is to develop and improve your strategies to help achieve your goals that have been set out. These strategies are aimed to help you save money while also improving your IT processes.
Analyzing Your Company Processes - Improving your company's IT processes is one of the main objectives your IT Consultant should be focusing on. Taking the time to analyze, evaluate and identify your practices is so important. You will then be able to determine what is working within your business and start to come with a plan for the things that are not.
Helping Improve Outdated Systems - Improving outdated processes and equipment is something that you should also be considering when hiring an IT consultant. Procurement assistance is another vital service that is typically provided. This will give your business a helping hand by using the industry-leading software that conglomerates use at reduced prices.
Understanding Your Competition - As part of their research, your designated IT Consultant should be scoping out your competition with your given sector. They will take a good look at your competitor companies and businesses, studying their strategies, processes, and equipment that they use to succeed.
A consultant from here can develop the same process or, even better, implement new ones that improve your competitors' existing methods.
Performing Analysis Evaluations - This involves metrics and performance. IT Consultants are there to help, which means your processes' best practices and implementations should always be evaluated. Consultants should provide monthly updates and quarterly reporting, so you are always kept up to speed with what is happening.
Helping Manage Needs for IT Projects & Campaigns - Not only will an IT consultant help you with improving your IT infrastructure, but they can also help you fine-tune specific technologies that your business is currently using. This can help with productivity, cost savings, and gain that upper hand on all your competition.
The big question! Well, in truth, it all comes down to the size of your company and budget as while these two roles are similar, both come at different costs to your business.
If you are a larger company with higher revenue and profits, then a CTO can help protect that position. You will be more likely able to justify the purpose of investing in one compared to a smaller company or start-up. A CTO salary starts at around 125,000 euros, which is a considerable investment for one position within a company.
If, however, you have a short, medium-term problem or thought or need external help or fresh eyes, that you need to engage, hiring in a service like an IT Consultant is a great way to limit your exposure while getting that problem or thought resolved.
Cost and investment-wise, they act on a consultant basis which is a much cheaper solution compared to a CTO as its often temporary and you can budget better i.e. this quarter we have X to spend on solving Y. After which the consultant can either be redeployed in the business or you can allow their contract to end.
Take into consideration what you want either role to do as well. This could determine your decision alone, and you should be setting out terms for what you expect to be achieved and what goals need to be met.
Often, we find businesses don’t know their goals, problems or challenges, they know that something is not right but the ‘what’ is missing. As an IT Consultancy we often bring to light issues that have been ignored within the business for a long time, from security issues across to software bugs, staffing issues and UX or SEO problems.
Small things that are having a massive impact on the growth and productivity of the business for years.
Our team is positioned in companies as both and IT Consultant along side CTOs to support them with fresh eyes as well as being a vCTO (virtual CTO) as either a permanent role and an interim role while recruitment process is being run.
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Iffy is our exclusive resident technology newshound editor, relentlessly exploring the beauties of the world from a 4th dimensional viewpoint. When not crafting, editing or publishing our IT content, she spends most of her time helping people understand life and its basic principles. You know, the little things around you, that you've failed to grasp each day.
Dee.ie IT blog has updates on IT Consultancy, IT Contractors and Software Development related posts, on how your business can be managed effectively using technology.
Feel free to read more and or reach out to share your thoughts, feelings and input on our articles, our team would love to hear from you!