How Is The Role Of The CTO Changing?

We sat down with Sunil Sadasivan, CTO at Buffer


Sunil Sadasivan is CTO at Buffer. Starting as the second engineer (employee #5) in 2012, he has helped grow Buffer to now over 80 people and over 12 million Annual Recurring Revenue. Throughout the journey, he has architected the back-end infrastructure, led engineering hiring, pioneered Buffer's diversity initiatives, and helped shape Buffer's culture values.

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Technology Officer Summit this November 30 - December 1, we sat down with Sunil to talk all things digital technology, including the role of the CTO and the biggest current cyber security risks. 

How have the main responsibilities of the role of the CTO changed over the past year?

The definition of a CTO is very different depending on the company and circumstances. Especially at a growing startup, a CTO will typically swing between the roles of engineer, architect, technical visionary, operations, culture guru. I believe we're starting to see a shift in experimenting with very different ways of working to stay innovative and competitive. The tools for organizing and working better and being more productive are getting better at an exponential rate. The barrier to engineering and development are reducing. The best CTOs are mindful of the changing landscape and are looking for ways stay innovating on multiple fronts.

What trends can we expect to be of primary concern for CTOs over the next year?

Any organization is only as strong as its weakest password. It's nearly every week where we hear of a new security breach--and security by nature will is generally taken for granted until a boundary of failure is crossed. CTOs/CIOs have an uphill battle to convince their teams to take information and computer security seriously.

I also believe we're starting to realize that the most diverse teams create the best products. Because we live in a globalized age and the products are used all over the world, it's important to have those perspectives on your team early. Building a diverse and balanced team will be the next competitive advantage, but doing so is hard. This will be a key challenge for CTOs and leaders in the coming years.

What is your industry doing to better meet consumer expectations?

The product development process for consumer saas products has improved significantly in the past 5 years. Buffer has been following lean development principles from the start and iterating on that. From fast Prototyping using tools like Invision and Origami, using MPP databases like AWS Redshift to work with large datasets really fast to gather BI insights. And having engineers interact directly with customers, all of these principles have helped us at Buffer stay up-to-date with what customers want and keep up with strategy.

Which other speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from at the summit?

Bruce Pittman from NASA

You can hear more from Sunil, along with other executives from industry leading digital companies at the Chief Technology Officer Summit this November 30 - December 1 in San Francisco. To see the full agenda, click here

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