Why you need a CTO

Feeling unprepared for technical disruption? A well-structured role for a chief technology officer is a first line of defense.

The dizzily increasing speed of technological change makes it critical for companies to stay ahead of technology trends and be able to anticipate disruptions. For technology and technological change—which, as Exhibit 1 shows, can involve either pure information technology or technology in the sense of materials and processes—are changing the ground rules for everything from products and services to business models and processes.

A vast array of technologies are disrupting today’s businesses.
Exhibit 1

Indeed, the speed at which technological disruptions now unfold means that they can cripple a business virtually overnight—witness what ride-sharing apps have done to taxicabs. Technology, especially information technology, is also dissolving boundaries between industries and creating whole new business models, as we see with companies such as Airbnb in lodging or Katerra in construction. And along with such external disruptions, companies face internal ones from technological innovations that break down boundaries between functional silos and force companies to work end to end and from the customer back, something often associated with digitalization. Organizations that fail to stay on top of such disruptions can see their performance and their competitiveness rapidly erode.