These days, every company is a technology company. I don’t care if you’re walking dogs or selling popcorn, your success will be driven, if not determined, by your ability to leverage technology to separate your business from the competition.
Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses and startups have to rely so heavily on their IT vendors that those vendors end up driving the IT strategy.
You don’t want another company’s salesman in charge of your IT strategy.
Like accounting and marketing strategy, your company’s technology strategy is something you can’t just delegate. You need to have those skills in-house, part of your core executive team. You can buy software and hire programmers, but you can’t outsource the role of the CTO (Chief Technology Officer).
So what’s a small company to do?
Instead of hiring a full-time CTO (who may be prohibitively expensive) or seeking free advice from vendors (who may have a conflict of interest) smart startups are turning to the Interim CTO model. An interim CTO is a part-time, short-term consultant, but one who can fully commit to the strategic goals of the company that retains them.
From the article by Cindy Waxer of Computerworld:
When interim CIOs ride into town, they might call the shots on everything from cloud migrations to app development. They’ll even deliver bad news and take the bullets.
Unlike IT consultants whose roles are advisory in nature, interim CIOs play active roles in companies’ operations and their responsibilities may include hiring, firing and making decisions, says Robert Jordan, CEO of the Association of Interim Executives. Calling the shots on cloud deployments, overhauling out-of-control IT infrastructures, negotiating new deals with vendors interim CIOs are straight-talking, sharp-shooting agents of change.
Read the whole article at CIO.com
Could an interim CTO be helpful at your organization? Matterform’s founder Michael Herrick has filled this role at a number of companies. It can be a good fit in a number of situations:
- For a startup that needs to spec out a minimum viable product.
- For a small company that has lost a key advisor, maybe a technology vendor who’s filled the CTO role unofficially and now is moving on to other opportunities.
- For a large company with a lot of older infrastructure needing a fresh new perspective.
A short-term engagement with an objective advisor someone who’s not trying to sell you someone else’s product can be transformative for many businesses. Because every business is a technology business.