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CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees
Virtual CTO’s mostly work with organizations looking for strategic IT alignment, validation, and an IT function that's only run in an operational mode. These IT functions have not yet reached the maturity level needed to have their own IT strategy and alignment with business objectives, so there's a disconnect. IT is busy running the day-to-day operational aspects, but it's not aligned with the business and its priorities. That's where I have been helping these companies as a virtual CTO. I try to understand the business, its customers and value proposition or core offering, as well as its functional and operational aspects to help align IT's capabilities to be more productive, efficient and futuristic. In certain cases, I also help with the other aspects of the business by doing things like competitor analysis, or showing them the benefit of embracing standards, like ISO 27001, or uplifting them to gain trust in other regional areas and provide more confidence to current customers.
Chief Technology Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I like to think of the difference between a CIO and CTO is that one is inward (CIO) and one is outward (CTO). That is, the CIO is in charge of all the effective running of the company's technology, infrastructure, telecommunications, applications, data, etc., that keep it running, while the CTO is in charge of all the effective running and architecture of the customer-facing technology, applications, etc.

Typically a CTO sets the platform and direction for *how* the company's products will be built, working with the Chief Product Officer who sets the direction for *what* the company's products will do.

A consulting CTO would aid a business in coming up with its product architecture.

I feel a need to be wary of MSPs who refer to their staff as virtual CIOs and virtual CTOs; the CIO and CTO are best positioned inside the business advocating for the company's best interests and in finding technical challenges that they want to address. An MSP salesperson will tell you what they can do, but isn't necessarily able to identify the challenges and opportunities that exist inside an organisation, and isn't necessarily an advocate for the company.
Chief Technology Officer in Software, 11 - 50 employees
I actually offer CTO consultant services. The main focus is providing a high level architecture on how products are built and how it will interact with present systems. A huge part of the job is solution building and understanding how the different components of varies systems can marry together to create a cohesive system.
CTO in Healthcare and Biotech, 2 - 10 employees
CTO consultants are pure strategists unless you bring on someone to fit a specific technical niche. Think software architecture design, hiring strategy, supply chain - where you source components and what you bring in-house. CTO consultants are not doers - although they can be very capable and that can be negotiated - they are there specifically to provide guidance and lend their experience for you to act on.
Co-Founder and Director in Software, 2 - 10 employees
Technology in the modern world is key to fulfilling business goals. The CTO role hence is very significant. The CTO is accountable for defining the technology vision, developing the Technology strategy, and alignment during execution to achieve the business goals.  

CTO is a stakeholder in the business and understands the competitive differentiation required for the business. CTO understands the bigger picture of interconnected technology and trends, which shape the future. 
CTO  effectively communicates the vision and strategy throughout the organization in order to align the execution. CTO is a mentor and creates a effective technology leadership in the company. 

Though CTO is an fulltime executive role in the company, however due to various reasons, companies can not hire a CTO. In addition there are additional Roles such as CIO and CSO,  addressing the IT managment and security objectives. Hence smaller companies and startups look for CTO consultants, who can provide companies the expertize required for some of the strategic functions of CTO and also for CIO and CSO, if not all mid/short terms needs.   The trends are emerging where such roles have started shaping the initial and growth phase of companies, where the focus is building and growing the business. 
CTO in Education, 51 - 200 employees
A CTO consultant will be a resource you can outsource to come in and set your technology strategy. It may be for a limited engagement and or it may be a part-time role. In the same way, as you would hire a consultant for anything else, the CTO consultant is the more experienced senior person you may need than a regular consulting engagement.
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Board Member in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

And that’s the role I have been playing for the last 8 odd years and enjoyed setting strategy and then seeing it to execution. The best part, as probably the senior most person in the room (in my case it is also in terms of age), the respect it gets you unlike “taken for granted” situation for internal roles.

Chief Technology Officer in Software, 2 - 10 employees
Consultant CTO comes in for following reasons (I think)

Reduce Technical debt - Software libraries and dependencies easily get outdated. Or there are new and bettor options always being built to solve the problem faster and quicker. Every software needs technical checks and analysis every 2 years now a days. Used to be 5 years but things are very rapid now a days. CTO can help you decide whether to go with the change which other industry is doing and help you decide whether to invest in that efforts or not from business prospective. 

Scale your software/infrastructure - In terms of cloud and cloud native there are lot of ways to do the same thing. What happens is you realize this once you have enough or more user base (traffic) that the path you choose is not optimal. so, How to deviate from it without hurting user base and making compromise to in cloud billing. solution mostly involve scaling infrastructure or changing it in a way that it can manage more traffic in the same configuration/billing. 

Feature development and brainstorming - You always need second opinion because in house team will be biased towards what they have as their existing stack. It's their baby they will not easily convinced to scrap everything and start from scratch with different angle in mind. Most of the time they will try to do things without making drastic changes to the existing structure. Sometimes it could be limiting for management in terms of what they want. Consulting CTO can be middleman to who can find the middle ground to make both parties happy. 

Strategize and streamline processes - One of the biggest hurdle in programming is when people change there is a lot of KT and other things. New person may not have the same skills and or may not have the same style/way of working which makes harder to get everything up and running fast. Consulting CTO can make sure this doesn't happen by setting up proper processes, guidelines in place to do certain things. 

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Strongly Agree10%


Neither Agree nor Disagree16%


Strongly Disagree5%



Lead digital business/transformation initiatives26%

Upgrade IT and data security44%

Identify new data-driven business opportunities15%

Collaborate with business leaders on customer initiatives4%

Help reach specific goals for corporate revenue growth11%


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