What is ‘CTO as a service’?

‘CTO as a service’ means getting valuable advice from a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) as you need it without having to bear ongoing costs. We live in an era where everything is available as a service; ‘CTO as a service’ is an extension of this idea.

The benefits of ‘CTO as a service’

A CTO can deliver transformational benefits to a mid-market business by bringing expertise and traction to systems and digital projects. An effective CTO can streamline business processes, improve customer service, and increase value. They drive online projects, custom software and app development.

However, good CTOs are highly sought after and thus command high salaries and benefits. So having a CTO as part of the senior team is potentially unaffordable for many mid-market businesses.

And even where budgets allow, it is a risky hiring decision which is very difficult to get right.

The solution is retaining a CTO as a service on a contract rather than full-time.

Issues with ‘CTO as a service’

Of course, a CTO is a senior leader, and not all the benefits of a senior leader can be delivered as a series of well-defined tasks, or questions and answers, or opinions delivered from a distance.

Difficult issues are often ambiguous, and there are seldom simple solutions. Put bluntly, if you can fix a problem with a phone call, it’s not something that requires a high-quality CTO.

To achieve real, market-leading success, you need a clear vision, strong leadership, and expert judgements. There must be communication and action over an extended period.

Technology alone rarely delivers value. The greatest challenge is to make organisations and business work together with IT. It isn’t practical to expect a remote, disconnected ‘service CTO’ to deliver this value.

‘CTO as a service’ compared to a fractional CTO

A fractional CTO joins the senior leadership of a company on a part-time basis. This is a cost-effective approach and provides genuine and effective technology leadership. The fractional CTO is a part of the senior team, with ongoing involvement in technology initiatives and decision-making.

The best CTOs bring a cogent commercial and technical vision for how IT can deliver value to a business, and they bring innovation into the heart of the senior team. This cannot be achieved by someone working in a ‘taskified,’ on-demand manner.

On the other hand, a fractional CTO shapes and influences a company without adding the overhead of a full-timer. A fractional CTO can have a huge impact on the growth of a mid-market firm without undercutting the bottom line.

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