CTO Vs. Product Manager

Chief technology officers and product managers are very different careers, but both require analytical skills to assess the needs of a company or a market. This article provides a comparison of these two professions.

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Comparing CTOs to Product Managers

Product managers work in many different industries to develop products that will create revenue and fill market demands. Chief technology officers (CTOs), on the other hand, work to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of computer technologies within a company or organization.

Job Title Minimum Education Required Median Salary (2017)** Job Growth (2016-2026)*
CTO Bachelor's degree $153,226 12% (computer and information system managers)
Product Manager Bachelor's degree $80,692 10% (marketing managers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

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Responsibilities of a CTO vs. a Product Manager

Products are developed for specific market needs, and product managers determine those needs and deliver products that fill them. CTOs work to improve a business's operations by implementing specific computer technologies and managing information technology (IT) personnel and projects. Short-term and long-term goals are important for both of these professionals, and they both work to improve a company's overall revenue. However, they have distinct responsibilities.

The CTO considers data processing needs, designs IT strategies, and keeps the company up to date with current trends in technology. The product manager is involved in the complete life cycle of a single product or product line. They consult with engineers to manage product design and conduct research with marketing professionals to determine marketing opportunities; they are also responsible for successful product sales. The CTO integrates technology within their company while the product manager manages the creation, promotion, launch and sale of a product for their company.

CTO

Chief technology officers are responsible for evaluating, updating, and managing the way a company uses computers and technology. CTOs may work with other computer managers to establish IT goals, protect computer security, and analyze the costs of computer networks. They have the most technical experience of all IT managers employed within a company, and depending on the size of the company, they may be in charge of the entire IT department and report directly to top executives. CTOs must follow computing trends and suggest upgrades based on technological advances.

Job responsibilities of a CTO include:

  • Analyzing the flow of information and assessing system requirements
  • Enhancing business objectives with technology
  • Creating an IT budget
  • Recommending new software and hardware
  • Executing system back-ups
  • Providing technical support

Product Manager

Product managers are involved in every stage of product development, from the original concept to determination of pricing. Initially, they define a potential company product based on market analysis. They then work with the product through development, and even manage the marketing and advertising of the product to maximize the return on investment. At these stages, the product manager may develop relationships with potential vendors and organize sales tools.

Products range from pharmaceuticals to retail goods. Regardless of the type of product, the product manager bears overall responsibility for the success of the product within the marketplace. This job requires the ability to conduct research and make predictions about market trends. Product managers must also have excellent organization and management skills.

Job responsibilities of a product manager include:

  • Advising business partners on factors affecting markets
  • Improving environmental impact of product packaging
  • Evaluating trends in potential markets
  • Consulting with production staff on product specifications
  • Supporting and training sales teams

Related Careers

Similar to CTOs are information architects. These professionals evaluate the needs of computer users and organize websites to make them more user-friendly. A clinical administrator uses skills similar to a product manager; clinical administrators also evaluate the effectiveness of products, but the focus is on medical procedures or equipment.

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