CTOs, CIOs, and CSOs have it rough these days: technology is evolving at a relentless rate, and the news is littered with headlines of security blunders and hacks. Whoever is in charge of tech at your company has a job that demands that they always keep learning. But having said that, how can a CTO keep up and stay relevant in their field?
GetApp spoke to a selection of CTOs and asked them to share tips on keeping ahead of the game.
Make time for new technology
White Knight Consulting’s CTO, Mark Herschberg, said that it’s important not to fall behind on new technology.
“I may not have time to investigate everything deeply personally, so when we might need some new tools, I’ll have one or two of the engineers take some time during a sprint to do research and then present a review back to the team,” he said.
He also said that it was important to get involved in the technology and get some practice with it.
“I try to find time every few months to sit down with a member of the tech team to get some hands on training with a new technology we brought in and then will personally contribute to the new technology base,” he said.
Andy Su from inDinero.com agreed, saying that CTOs should spend “at least 30 percent of their time coding and exploring new technologies.”
Read, read, and read some more
Tech execs should also spend a portion of their day following up on the latest trends in and outside of their industry. As mentioned, technology changes rapidly, and it’s easy to fall behind. Josh Lindenmuth, CIO at Payce Payroll, echoed this notion.
“The best advice I can provide is simply to read a lot. Pick one general purpose online magazine (such as CIO.com), one tech aggregator (such as Slashdot, or even a subreddit of reddit.com), and then a couple blogs in your specialty and devote 20 minutes per day to reading,” says Lindenmuth.
Get involved and network
Staying within your company or keeping your head in the books isn’t enough; it’s also important to get out of the office.
“I keep my ear to the ground all the time. I stay involved in the startup community at all times. Thus, I often hear about companies and their technologies right when they are getting founded. This gives me a huge advantage,” said Joan Wrabetz, CTO of QualiSystems.
She said that meeting more people inherently increases the chance of her keeping up with the latest trends in interesting new tech.
“I participate in meetups, entrepreneurship forums, and university seminars. I [also] work with other early stage companies as an advisor… This allows me to leverage my information flow by using the information gathering of others.”
You can’t do it all
Ultimately, you’ll have to accept that not everything is in the hands of a CTO/CIO/CSO. Hackers exploit systems, a new bug is discovered, or sometimes bad days just happen. Shahin Pirooz puts it best with his advice to CTOs: “The key to staying abreast of the newest technologies and ahead of the newest threats is to come to the understanding that you can’t stay ahead of it all and run a business.”