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A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is becoming a staple for all successful companies, of any size, in any industry. Once thought of as a luxury, it is now essential to have this tech and process savvy, business-minded person on your side.

In recent conversations with other business owners about CTOs, I realized just how vital this role is, especially for small business longevity and success.

A Chief Technology Officer, sometimes called a Chief Information Officer, is responsible for overseeing all technology use and implementation for the company. This individual should be able to understand what technologies help employees become productive and do their jobs, which technologies can increase process efficiency, and ways to improve the overall operation through strategic technology implementation.

In order to do this job well, an individual has to have a firm grip on your unique operation and have a head for goals alignment.   A good CTO will also have industry-specific knowledge. With a working knowledge of the industry, a CTO will be able to better assign the right technology solution to a pain point.

Which should you hire first – CFO, COO or CTO?

Many CEOs with any tech savvy often believe they can take on the CTO responsibilities. As they make the major corporate and operational decisions, however, they do not usually have enough time or expertise to dedicate to a real understanding of technology, how it is often applied in their industry, the tech trends, and how they can improve their company with technology.

The CFO is responsible for managing financial risks. This role, especially in smaller businesses, can include record keeping, financial planning, departmental budgeting, reporting, and pay role. A decent CTO, however, will be able to get the right data from Business Intelligence for financial reporting. The CEO can then have the power to make smarter decisions about the financials with much less time and energy invested.

The COO manages the day-to-day of a company. When done correctly, however, a COO may become obsolete for a small business. The day-to-day can often be managed through automation, correct processes, integration, and other technology solutions. The right technology, implemented correctly, makes all of this possible. A good CTO will be able to create these operational efficiencies.

How is a small business supposed to afford this vital, yet sometimes expensive, C-level exec?

At GadellNet, we have a Virtual Chief Technology Officer or vCTO. This individual acts as an outsourced CTO for our small business clients.

GadellNet’s vCTO works directly with our clients to understand their operation and their business and profitability goals. Each department is picked apart to be completely understood. From there, he is able to consult with decision-makers on where to invest, where to cut back, and how to get a healthy 3-year budget in place. Industry-specific technologies are discussed and suggestions are made for everything from hardware to apps.

Some of the most common areas our vCTO is able to improve a small business are in automation, as many have not yet done this, business intelligence, environment sustainability, and security.

Here are deliverables from our vCTO: 

  • 3-year IT Strategic Plan
  • IT Maturity Review and Assessment
  • Annual Sales, Finance and Operations IT Opportunity Assessment
  • Annual Software Assessment
  • Monthly On-Site Advisory Meeting
  • Unlimited Phone Calls to Strategic Advisor
  • Compliance and Security Interface

Common struggles of our clients before consulting our vCTO include trouble with alignment of tech and business goals, an IT infrastructure that is not scalable, a need for cost reduction measures, rapid expansion challenges, compliance regulation issues, and the need to manage or merge multiple IT operating environments. If this sounds like you, it is time to contact our vCTO and take charge of your business.


Want more information on vCTOs? Download our guide below.

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