The IT industry borrowed the title chief technical officer (CTO) from research industries during the late 1970s. At the same time the field of IT exploded as new products, ideas, and disciplines hit the scene. This made it increasingly hard for the person in charge of a project to be conversant with all aspects of programming. The CTO was accordingly pushed into the crow's nest. His primary function is to know what technologies and products are coming over the horizon and to map out the capabilities required.
As you will have noted in Chapter 5, venture capitalists like to see an eminent technical expert on the board of any firm in which they are considering investment. As they see it, firms that have a technician at the top demonstrate vision and an awareness of the importance of maintaining a technical edge.
Good CTOs are rare because they have to understand the present and guess the future. On the other hand, you may not need one full time. Look for someone who has a good working knowledge of the technologies the program is going to involve as well as its ramifications. Such a person should be able to pilot you through those areas of technology where you do not have knowledge yourself. They should also be able to help you exploit those techniques that are new to you.
For large projects, this title is often given to a professional heavyweight who oversees the technical infrastructure of the components to ensure overall compatibility.
Development managers are mainly found in organizations that develop several programs simultaneously. Usually they report to the department head or CEO. Unfortunately, there aren't too many experienced ones, so there is a tendency to promote anyone who shows promise. Many development managers attain the title with relatively little experience. The development manager is sometimes referred to as the CEO engineering, but their role is wider.
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