Setting the vision, strategy and direction — the CTO’s role

There are many different types of CTOs, with many different remits.

In Luis Weir‘s case — the CTO for the Oracle DU in Capgemini UK — he admits that his main focus is on vision and strategy.

Oracle is the leading Cloud ERP organisation. However, as is the way with the cloud market, competition is fierce; especially when it comes to IaaS, Oracle has a tall mountain to climb.

“With Amazon and Microsoft already at the top of the mountain, it remains to be seen what will be the impact of Oracle’s Second Gen Cloud Infrastructure in terms of claiming back some market share,” says Weir.

“Having said that, I truly believe that Oracle is going through an inflection point right now. Either investment will continue on their own cloud infrastructure and Oracle will continue to push hard for customers to run Oracle workloads on Oracle Cloud (which is the current strategy) OR Oracle might consider becoming the number 1 multi-cloud software provider. The latter, however, is speculation as there is no indication, at least not at the moment, that this will ever happen.”

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The role

Weir is responsible for setting the direction for Capgemini’s UK Oracle DU Practice, “which is quite important as the investments we make as a delivery unit depend on where we see the market going and what we think customers will need,” he explains.

Similar to other CTOs, Weir also supports flagship customers in defining their modern strategies, especially around APIs and microservices.

“In most cases this requires me taking a step back and not focus on a single vendor (e.g. Oracle), but rather understanding what the customer needs are. And then present them with a vision and a roadmap to deliver that vision suitable to their specific needs.

A ‘helicopter’ view

The main thing, for Weir, is to remain focused on how technology can solve business problems and deliver tangible value.

“With so much tech out there, it’s very easy to get carried away and just focus on tools, thus losing focus on what the real problem is,” he says.

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“A good CTO should not get lost in the woods, but rather take a ‘helicopter view’ approach to understanding what the business needs are, where the business is going and how technology can enable the business to achieve its goals.”

“Having said that, technology is moving very fast, so an important part of the job is also to remain relevant and up to date.”

Manage priorities

Today, technology is accelerating to a point where organisation’s are struggling to keep up to date and relevant. This is the challenge for CTOs.

Weir suggests that if the CTO is responsible for setting the vision and direction, then “it is our duty to understand trends, go beyond the buzz and decide where we should be making our bets.”

“However that takes lots of energy and effort, which can be challenging especially when combined with other operational tasks. So, being able to manage priorities is fundamental.”

CTO: A business-focused role

“As IT moves closer to a profit centre and away from just being a cost, CTO’s must also evolve a strong understanding of the business and take an active role in initiatives that directly drive revenue,” explains Weir.

“In practice this means understanding how businesses of any sorts and size, can become part of the digital economy. This is simpler said than done, and it means not focusing only on the typical elephants in the room (e.g. big ERP systems), but also define a path for a business to become customer centric and omni-channel enabled.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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