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Today's CTO: The Chief Transformation Officer

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In a recent blog post, I suggested that the role of the CIO needs to shift from that of a Chief Information Officer to a Chief Innovation Officer, largely due to the massive, rapid, multiple technology-driven transformations that are occurring today. And, just as the CIO's role needs to change, so too does the CTO's role--from Chief Technology Officer to Chief Transformation Officer. This fundamental shift is necessary in order to not only maintain but also elevate the position's contribution and relevance within the organization.

While the CIO has historically been focused on technology needed for running the company, the CTO has been responsible for the technology integral to products being sold to customers or clients. However, based on predictable hard trends that are already in place, over the next five years every business process is going to undergo a major transformation. And someone has to both drive and oversee internal, as well as external, transformation.

Why is this so important? Remember that change means doing the same thing, only with a difference. Transformation means doing something completely different. Blackberry changed the cell phone, giving us access to our email; Apple transformed it, giving us access to everything.

These days, it's no longer enough to change. No matter what field you're in, you need to transform. In fact, there is no profession, career, business, or organization that is not going to transform dramatically and fundamentally over the next five years--whether you want it to or not. In other words, expect radical transformation ... and expect it to occur fast.

For example, IBM executives recently shared with me that over 40 percent of their profits are now coming from products and services that were impossible just a few short years ago. That reflects the transformative nature of business today as well as the speed of the transformation. And this is just the beginning.

Knowing this, it's vital that today's CTOs embrace the role of Chief Transformation Officer. No longer will this position's relevance be tied to how well he or she can oversee the development of technology. In the near future, the CTO will need to oversee the transformation of every business process, including how you sell, market, communicate, collaborate and innovate. That's a huge shift!

This also means that the CTO and CIO need to be in closer collaboration with each other. Because the CIO's new role is Chief Innovation Officer, and because so much of the CIO's previous responsibilities are virtualized today with nearly everything as a service (XaaS), the CIO is free to focus on overall innovation. By working closely together, the CTO and CIO can drive transformation and innovation--both internally and in terms of product and service development.

Ultimately, no matter what business or occupation you're in, it will transform in the next five years. In fact, the landscape is going to transform so radically that no organization will go untouched. It's up to the Chief Transformation Officer to ensure that your company is the one that not only survives the transformation, but also thrives during and after it. Only then can you experience transformation not as disruption, but as ongoing opportunity that leads to lasting success.