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CIO vs CTO vs IT Director: What’s the difference?

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This blog was updated June 25th 2021

Today we’re going to talk about a lot of the different acronyms and titles that the IT industry loves to use - specifically around CIO CTO and IT Director. All three of these roles have leadership duties, but the level they operate on, and their amount of responsibilities differ.

What does a CIO do?

CIO stands for Chief Information Officer. A CIO and an IT director can sometimes be the same sort of person, a lot of tasks and a lot for lines are blurred and crossed when it comes to the duties they execute. A CIO is typically more of an executive-level type of position and involves more strategizing and planning, and less implementation of that plans and strategies. 

What does a CTO do?

A CTO is a Chief Technology Officer. A CTO sits between the CIO and the IT director and generally acts as a right-hand man to the CIO. A CTO will be involved in a lot of conversations about strategies and planning, but they are also going to be the direct link to the IT staff, help desk, and lead engineers. A CTO is a middle-management position that is going to help implement all the strategies and plans that the executive staff and CIO have come up with.

What does an IT Director do?

An IT director will work just slightly under a CTO, and could even be a network engineer or lead technician. The IT director is going to be the person that does a lot of the actual implementation of plans and is a bit more of an order-taker and task performer. Generally, an IT director will be given a plan with specifications for a project developed by executive leadership or the CIO and is then tasked with implementing and coordinating it.

The lines between all three roles often blur. Depending on the size of an organization and their needs, a person in any of these positions may take on additional duties and responsibilities.

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