The Difference Between a CTO, CIO, and IT Employee and Why Your Business Should Care

When organizations begin talking about how to manage their Information Technology (IT), you’ll probably talk about who’s going to do the dirty work.

You’ll talk about things like:

• Is there someone internally that can handle all your technology needs?
• Do you have a dedicated problem-solver to manage software, desktops, laptops, and other devices?
• If not, do you hire someone? Do you hire someone who moonlights, or freelances, as an IT person?
• Or do you just hire someone full-time?

Perhaps you should you outsource to an IT company, like DigiSync?

Whatever your decision, we’re here to help. We’re here to share with you the difference of hiring an IT person over outsourced IT. We’ll share with you the types of persons to hire and why it should matter to your Los Angeles-based organization.

What’s the difference between a CTO, CIO, and a standard IT employee?

Companies have one of three types of IT people that work for them.

  • A Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • A Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
  • Or an IT employee.

Most times, you won’t know the difference.


So here’s the difference; a CIO is responsible for your overall IT strategy and organizational problems that are related to technology, as well as how technology impacts your business.

Inside your business or organization, the person who acts as your CIO should be the driver of crafting the technology vision of the company and integrating the needs of your business into that vision.

Your CIO is responsible for watching trends and paying attention to industry changes, and then equating how that impacts your company. It’s their role to recognize what technologies present threats to your company, as well as identify what technologies present opportunities.

Your CIO bridges the gaps that exist between your business and your IT department. Your CIO should ideally help your organization respond ahead of time to any technology issues that you’ll encounter, rather than react.


A CTO is responsible for solving your technology problems, like a very senior technician. CTO’s are more tactical in nature, and more hands on.

A standard IT guy doesn’t do any of the things that a CTO or CIO do, and this definitely shouldn’t be the expectation. A standard IT person will simply be a task-manager, rather than a thought-leader. Which isn’t bad, it’s just a difference between the roles inside your business.

In the IT hierarchy, the CTO typically reports to the owner or CIO. The CTO acts as the top engineer or technician, within your business. The CIO is responsible for communicating your business needs and the two of them work together within the organization, to ensure all parts of the IT strategy are working smoothly.

Standard IT person

The standard IT employee simply executes tasks as part of the overall strategy. They are more reactive than proactive. They work with device issues, and help the employees of your company when they have technology questions or concerns.

What about outsourced IT or an outsourced CIO?

The great thing about a CIO is this type of team member is strategic and smart. They’re well educated and work well with a team. They’re a senior leader.

But many companies can’t afford a CIO because they typically demand a higher salary. Even though the position is in high demand because there is a strong need, businesses cannot afford to have a CIO who spends much of their time crafting and planning, versus generating revenue.

An outsourced CIO, or outsourced IT provider, is totally affordable. And the cost is a fraction of what a business would pay in salary. Not to mention, most outsourced IT firms are on call 24/7 and have a support team in time of crisis, versus one person.

Having an outsourced IT firm or outsourced CIO allows for better decision-making. Someone inside a company often times can’t be a change agent. Someone outside the organization can. Much of the fear and emotion of making business decisions is removed, when working with someone from outside the company, and there’s little office politics that need to be overcome.

Get to know us.

Now that you know a bit more about how to hire an awesome IT staff, we’d like to invite you to get to know us at DigiSync. Email us here to learn more about how we can help you build your IT team.