The role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has never been more relevant. The pandemic forced many businesses to accelerate their digital transformations, often in ways and at speeds that seemed unimaginable before the crisis transformed the way we work, learn, shop, and communicate. The best CTOs look to the future, always striving to anticipate tech changes and identify opportunities that can benefit the organization and its customers. But the COVID-19 crisis forced CTOs to adapt and pivot even more rapidly, scanning the tech landscape for solutions for emerging problems as well as identifying longer-term opportunities.
A CTO’s analysis typically goes on external to the organization; they must constantly watch for new or emerging technologies that have applications to the business, and trends in customer demand that need to be anticipated and satisfied. Any of these drivers may present ideas for the CTO to bring back to the enterprise. The rapid emergence of cloud technology and virtual services has made this more important and more urgent – the ease of access to new tech allows competitors to ramp up quickly. Today’s leaders can become tomorrow’s followers.
The analysis must also be directed inward. A visionary approach inside the enterprise can improve communications, production, service delivery, and innovation. CTOs can help lead the way with the development of transformative internal systems and creative processes.
CTOs are also lifelong students of technology, always striving to learn new approaches and gain new experiences. But tech for tech’s sake is not a winning formula. The best CTOs not only identify emerging trends and technologies, but must be able to articulate the business benefit of those new frontiers to the enterprise. Communicating at a business level gains the trust of other executives and the board, and gives the CTO a better chance of success. CTOs able to identify, implement, and integrate emerging technology help to better serve the business and the customer.
As we gradually emerge from the pandemic, successful companies have seen that looking ahead is more than just “blue sky” thinking. They have seen that their CTOs have enabled the company to be nimble enough to withstand environmental shocks out of their control; that technology can act as an enabler and differentiator in the marketplace. A recent McKinsey & Company report provided an excellent thumbnail sketch of the ideal CTO:
“A CTO who can enable an organization to turn this abundance of threats and opportunities into sustainable success in the marketplace must have a number of qualities: a deep understanding of customers (fluency in design thinking helps) and, for B2B companies, a reputation and networks in the customer space; a deep understanding of the company’s current technology; the curiosity to learn about potentially relevant new technologies coming on line or in development; the acuity to see the implications and possible uses of such technologies; external networks (including with actors such as universities, start-ups, and venture capital); a mastery of systems engineering; and a willingness to challenge the status quo.”
– McKinsey & Company (2018), Why you need a CTO and how to make her successful
How is the CTO role different from that of the CIO or CISO? Some companies have blended the portfolios, but there are different areas of focus for each executive role. The CIO’s role is typically much more inward-facing than that of the CTO – concentrating on optimizing information flow and operations, making data available quickly and efficiently. The CISO, meanwhile, will work closely with both the CIO and CTO, maintaining a focus on the privacy and security of the systems, processes and data under their stewardship. A CISO must ensure that new products and services (either consumed or delivered) have a bedrock of security, integrity, and robust availability for internal and external consumption. Depending on the size and scope of a business, the “official” roles of CTO, CIO, and CISO may not exist or may be blended into hybrid titles, but the essential activities of each role must be appreciated and executed.
ISA Cybersecurity is proud to announce the appointment of our first CTO – Wadeed Mian assumed the role effective January 4, 2021. Wadeed has been with ISA for almost nine years – most recently serving as our VP, Technical Services Delivery – and over-all has nearly 20 years of experience in the technology and cybersecurity field, with expertise in IT management, IT security management, and IT enterprise architecture. But talk to Wadeed for five minutes, and you’ll realize something more: he has a genuine passion for technology and the opportunities it presents.
Wadeed has been an integral part of our journey to become the largest pure-play cybersecurity firm in Canada. Under his stewardship, we built the systems that allowed us to migrate seamlessly, safely and securely to remote operations when the pandemic hit in 2020. He has ensured that we leverage just the right mix of cloud technology and in-house systems to supercharge our teams in our competitive and fast-moving industry. And perhaps most importantly, he has combined his wealth of experience and insatiable fascination with technology to help forge ISA’s industry-leading Cybersecurity Information Operations Centre (CIOC), the beating heart of our managed/hosted service practice. Our SOC 2 Type 2 Certified CIOC provides threat intelligence and cybersecurity defenses for our customers, 24/7 by 365.
Interested in learning how our forward thinking and leading-edge technology can help protect your business today – and tomorrow? Contact ISA today, and let’s get started. Wadeed would love to talk to you!
ISA Cybersecurity: we deliver cybersecurity services and people you can trust.