Executive IT Titles

Like many things in information technology, IT-related titles also benefit from business-oriented explanations. To collaborate most effectively with other members of the executive management team, and to facilitate a greater understanding of the fractional CIO's role in the organization, it's helpful to agree on working definitions for closely-related roles in order to compare and contrast them.


Fractional CIO

A fractional Chief Information Officer (%CIO) operates as a member of your executive leadership team on a part-time or as-needed basis. Working closely with the CEO and other executives, a fractional CIO provides strategic and operational support to the business. A modern CIO often has overlapping responsibilities with other C-level information, technology, and operations executives.

An interim CIO (iCIO) is a full-time, temporary resource. The iCIO is generally a full-time member of the executive team with day-to-day operational responsibilities, but for a time-limited or contingent term. An interim CIO is often a great choice for companies that need a full-time senior IT executive right now, or a seasoned leader to deliver on technology initiatives with a defined end-date. Key differentiators between fractional and interim CIOs are cost and duration, especially over the long term.

Interim CIO

virtual CIO

A virtual CIO (vCIO) typically has a more advisory role than a fractional or interim CIO. While there can be overlap between the %CIO and vCIO roles,  key differentiators include:

  • The %CIO is embedded within the executive management team.
  • The %CIO frequently provides operational oversight and profit-and-loss (P&L) responsibilities.


In contrast to a CIO, a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is typically more focused on product development or external technology delivery. However, in many companies the CIO remains financially and operationally responsible for IT infrastructure, support, and software development even when there is a CTO.


The Chief Security Officer (CSO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) handles IT security and cyber risk for an organization, sometimes as a peer and others as a direct report to the CIO. Many middle market companies rely on the CIO to own the company's technology-related risk and compliance programs.