What is a CTO/CIO? Explanation of each role, necessary skills and background

“What are CTO and CIO that we hear a lot these days?” “I don’t know the difference.

In order to answer such questions, this article explains the differences and roles of CTO and CIO from an overview. This article is for those who want to understand CTO and CIO in general. 

Table of contents

  1. What is a CTO or CIO?
  2. Differences and Roles of CTO and CIO 
  3. Skills and background required for CTO/CIO
  4. summary

What is a CTO or CIO?

We are seeing more and more abbreviations for similar titles such as CEO, CTO, and CIO. Most people don’t know the details of what they see often. Here’s a closer look at CTOs and CIOs. 

CTO is “Chief Technology Officer”

CTO is an abbreviation for Chief Technical Officer or Chief Technology Officer, which means “Chief Technology Officer” in Japanese. It is the chief executive of a company’s technology-related operations, and it can be said that it is often said that the head of the technology department or the development department concurrently holds the post. Therefore, positions such as engineering manager and development manager fall under this category. 

The term originated as an extension of the role of Director of Research and Development in an American company. In recent years, it has been established mainly in IT-related companies. In addition, the CIO may also serve concurrently as the CTO, which is one of the factors that makes it difficult to understand the difference between the two. 

CIO is “Chief Information Officer”

CIO is an abbreviation for Chief Information Officer, which translates to “Chief Information Officer” in Japanese. This position is mainly responsible for information system-related operations in a company, and in many cases, executives are in charge of the CIO. 

I will explain the difference between CTO and CIO and their roles in detail later. 

CEOs and CKOs you should also know

In addition to CTO and CIO, CEO and CKO are also important positions to be aware of. 

・CEO (Chief Executive Officer): Chief Executive Officer・CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer): Chief Knowledge Officer

CEO is the position of the president in Japan, and CKO is the position to consider how to improve corporate value by managing information and knowledge and sharing it throughout the company. 

Among them, CKO is a position that is difficult to distinguish from CTO and CIO, but it is a position closer to corporate management. 

Differences and Roles of CTO and CIO 

Regarding the roles of the CTO and CIO, the CTO is responsible for the company’s technical strengths (technical department) and supports problem solving on the front lines, while the CIO’s main job is the computerization of the company. The content is to control the efficiency of internal systems and compliance with laws and regulations. 

In other words, you can see that the CTO is the person in charge who is closer to the actual site. While the CTO and CIO roles may overlap in IT companies, they are distinctly different positions. 

Based on the nature of their work, CIOs are often executives of companies, and CTOs may be executives. Also, depending on the company, the CEO may also serve as the CTO, and the CIO may also serve as the CTO.  On the other hand, if each role is divided, there seems to be an advantage that a person in charge with more specialized knowledge can be assigned. 

Skills and background required for CTO/CIO

The skills and backgrounds required for CTOs and CIOs include not only knowledge of the information technology field, but also management knowledge and management skills. 

CTOs are particularly required to have deep knowledge and experience in the information technology field, as well as technical skills. On the other hand, CIO does not need to be an engineer, but more management knowledge and management skills are required. 

CTO and CIO are positions that only one person can hold in the company, and the person who takes the position will need to have a track record both inside and outside the company. It’s not a position you can get if you want to , but if you can participate in entrepreneurship and startups, you may be able to aim for CTO/CIO. 

In addition, both positions are in a position where communication skills are extremely required, and it can be said that the presence or absence of communication skills is very important. 


CTO is Chief Technology Officer and CIO is Chief Information Officer.
The role of each is that the CTO is responsible for the technical department and supports problem-solving at the site, while the CIO is responsible for improving the efficiency of the internal system and overseeing legal compliance.

For this reason, the CTO is the person in charge who is closer to the actual site, and the CIO is the person in charge who is closer to the management. Depending on the company, CTO and CIO may hold concurrent positions, and in IT-related companies, their respective roles may overlap, but it should be recognized that these two positions are clearly different positions and roles. 

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