Long a staple for Silicon Valley's largest and most influential corporations as well as in more nimble startups, the Chief Technology Officer role is becoming increasingly prevalent, including within organisations that aren't traditionally associated with the technology sector.
Unlike their C-suite colleagues, CTOs tend to be more heavily focused on business technology expertise, from formulating a company's near- and long-term technology strategy through to overseeing research and development. Whereas a CEO, CFO and increasingly CIO might be more likely to hold a business background, often CTOs have had career-long experience as engineers.
Some examples of recent appointments in prominent UK organisations include media group News UK hiring Christina Scott as Chief Technology Officer in 2016, while UCAS' first Chief Technology Officer, Aaron Powell joined in October 2018. And UK tech unicorn Improbable appointed Lincoln Wallen as its CTO earlier this year.
Chief Technology Officer role and job description - What does a CTO do?
A Chief Technology Officer is responsible for overseeing the IT and technology systems in an organisation, as well as overseeing research efforts and informing a broad understanding of industry trends in the company.
And as digital transformation becomes higher on the agenda for more organisations, the role of the CTO has also increased in importance - with the CTO expected to maintain a competitive edge against rival firms in seeing the big picture, for example, and where the latest technology systems might fit in.
A CTO should have the relevant business and technology knowledge needed to make the best decisions for the organisation. The role often overlaps with other C-level positions, such as the Chief Information Officer and Chief Security Officer, depending on the size of the company.
Although the CIO role tends to focus on internal operations, the role of the CTO leans towards external processes. This means that the CTO may also be expected to develop new technologies that will improve revenue and sales, while also displaying core marketing skills when engaging with partners, vendors, investors and customers.
"In JLL being a CIO and CTO doesn't really differentiate you from a skills and capability perspective, but we differentiate the roles from an accountability perspective," JLL CIO Chris Zissis explained, speaking with CIO UK. "Our CIOs and CTOs have got the same skill set, but the way they execute that in our organisation is different.
"Our CIOs are focused on delivering the strategy to the geographic clusters and markets. And our CTOs are the co-enabler either through applications or infrastructure and operations that make sure we can take those deliverables, scale them across geographies, and constantly apply best practice as we do."
Chief Technology Officer salary - How much do Chief Technology Officers earn?
The pay also varies depending on the level of experience. An entry-level CTO with less than five years of experience may earn an average of £58k and a CTO with five to 10 years of experience may earn an average of £63k.
Those with experience of 10 to 20 years, or more, are likely to earn between £85k to £93k. This is according to figures collected anonymously by PayScale.