The Evolving Role of the Modern CTO: Navigating A Rapidly Changing Technology Based Landscape

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In today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, the role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has undergone a significant transformation.

Traditionally, the CTO was responsible for overseeing technical aspects within an organization. However, in the modern digital era, the CTO has evolved into a strategic leader who plays a crucial role in helping businesses achieve extraordinary results.

The reason I believe this is because I live this day to day as the CTO of MBO Partners, a company focused on helping enterprises optimize their workforce through their use of contingent labor (

I joined MBO since I believe in the vision and saw the possibility of a more flexible, highly knowledgeable workforce being brought to bear on a company’s toughest challenges. Over the last two-ish years, I’ve been working diligently to navigate the inherently choppy waters of change.  I view it as my responsibility to work with MBO’s executive team to refine our business strategy and create the software that powers our strategy.

As I continue to build the future of work, I believe it is important to share some of what I’ve learned along the ride, in the same way that so many others have. I hope to bring attention to some of the changes, and more importantly solutions, that I’m employing and provide an environment to engage in constructive dialog about my observations and conclusions.

This first article merely explores the change that is forcing the evolving role of the CTO. Now with all that said, I’m going to put on my Captain Obvious unitard and share a couple of broad themes that have been taking up thought cycles and try to add to the discussion.

Business Change is Accelerating

Business changes are happening faster.  The quick pace means that technology needs to constantly stay in lock step with the business, update its roadmap, and bring knowledgeable people to bear on both strategy and tactics.  All this while giving real-time feedback to the business about what is happening today so we can improve tomorrow.  CTOs are no longer confined to technical matters alone; they are expected to provide strategic leadership and contribute to the organization’s business outcomes across product, operations, marketing, and sales – did I miss anything =]

Driving Business Results with Technology

Technological advancements have disrupted industries and business models, requiring companies to adapt and embrace change. I think about the advancement of entertainment content over the last 30 years.  For instance, I remember sitting in front of the TV, waiting for my favorite show to, literally, air.  Having commercials interrupt the storyline I’d waited a week to watch.  Not going to the bathroom or grabbing a snack for fear of missing something important.  Talking about the ‘memes’ from the shows with friends at lunch the next day.  Then Netflix started delivering content via snail mail. (remember them?) delivered DVDs/CDs via bike messengers along with a pint of Ben and Jerrys.  Now it’s all on-demand, all the time, on my phone, TV, tablet, and/or computer. All because of new technology and technology infrastructure that enabled this context delivery revolution.

Technology adoption is also increasing more quickly. It took Facebook about nine years to hit a billion users when they started in 2004.  TikTok started in 2016 and accomplished the same feat in five short years.  If you think that doing what you’ve previously done, with older technology, will drive successful outcomes in the future, then you’re likely on your way to obsolescence.

Today’s teams must harness the power of CRM, Robotic Process Automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, data analytics, open source, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable sales/marketing, optimize operations, improve customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge.  All technologies that built the successful companies of yesterday are now legacy technologies that keep the lights on, but won’t necessarily generate new business.  Great leaders keep pace with technological change and are upgrading their systems, processes, and people to build the products of the future.

Today’s top tech companies earn revenue from products that are new to the market (and their respective companies) and continuously evolving: Apple (Devices, Content), Microsoft (Cloud Services, Gaming), Google (Advertising, Cloud Services), Amazon (eCommerce, Cloud Services, Advertising, Content), Tesla (Electric Cars), Facebook (Advertising), Alibaba (eCommerce, Cloud Services), and Tencent (Gaming, Payments, Content, Cloud Services).  What products are you working on that will make peoples’ lives better?

In the coming posts, I will share my experience with questions like: What can I do to keep from falling behind the business/tech curve?  I’m behind the business/tech curve, and what can I do to catch up?  How do I keep my workforce current?  How can I better collaborate with my organization to drive business-aligned outcomes?

Thanks for your attention, and I’m looking forward to watching you all build the future!

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