Why a CTO is key to rapid scale-up growth

Scale-up businesses need a chief technical officer to set a clear and effective tech strategy.

Technology is disrupting every industry, with fast-growth businesses across all sectors becoming increasingly digitally-led. IT is no longer just a strand of the business – it is the business. Martin Ewings, director of regional sales and specialist markets at Experis UK & Ireland gives six reasons why a tech head at the helm is integral for driving rapid growth and establishing a business in a global market.

1.Setting the tech strategy and driving sales growth

Hiring this type of individual – with a unique blend of management and technical skills – might be a totally new concept for a high-growth business, where a dedicated technical strategist may traditionally have been seen as more of a luxury ‘nice-to-have’ than a necessity. Today, however, technology sits at the heart of every organisation, and digital strategy goes hand in hand with the growth strategy. Any CTO brought into the business should be adept at setting the technology plan and managing small teams now, while demonstrating the potential to lead an upscaled function in five to ten years’ time.

2. Letting the core team get back to what they do best

Cloud, data virtualisation, big data analytics… beyond those working in the IT industry, most company founders didn’t go it alone to find themselves caught up in the technology underpinning their business. But, as every sector becomes more digitally and data-focused, CTOs can play a critical role in taking a lead on which technologies will make a genuine difference to the business. And in doing so, freeing up the core team to focus on what they do best – whether that’s scaling the organisation, focusing on R&D, bringing a new product to market or reaching new audiences.

3. Not just keeping the lights on

Remember, a CTO is not someone who is brought in simply to keep the lights on, but rather, a strategic hire to work alongside the business owner to navigate the organisation through this changing environment. As the rate of technological advance continues to gather pace, new technologies and job roles are emerging and skills are going out of date faster than ever before – 65 per cent of Gen Z will perform jobs that don’t even exist yet. For scale-ups looking to keep up with the change, it is vital to bring an individual in that has their finger on the technical pulse who can harness the latest innovations for the benefit of the business.

See: The 4 different types of CTO

4. Unlocking value

Technology is transforming the way that fast-growth companies from every sector do business; reducing the need for physical assets and creating value by capturing, analysing and exchanging large amounts of data. Having a technical yet strategic mind within the organisation dedicated to unlocking the business benefits of this data, is and will continue to be invaluable for SMEs competing in a digitally-led environment.

5. Guarding against current and future threats

Transparency is crucial for companies of all sizes. With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) this month and ongoing cyber security concerns, technology has shot to the top of the CEO agenda. These are business challenges that affect the entire company, not just the IT department. CTOs can play a major role in leading the company strategy for these areas, and ensuring the right technology solutions are in place to combat them. The consequences of getting this wrong are huge, both from a financial and a reputational perspective.

Further reading on CTOs

Entrepreneur profile: Evan Goldberg, CTO of NetSuite

Michael Somerville

Uriel Beer

Michael was senior reporter for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2018 to 2019.

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