Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) are generally responsible for all strategic decision-making and implementation of technological systems and solutions to align with the needs and goals of a company. CTOs within the museum space will likely select and implement website and internal IT system architecture, as well as a more consumer-facing platform which can use technology to improve the experience of museum visitors. As specifics of a CTO's roles and objectives vary from company to company, they can similarly vary between museums, depending on unique organizational structure and needs. The roles of Chief Information Officer (CIO) may also be applicable to this research, and there has also been a rise in Chief Digital Officers (CDO) that may serve similar functions.
Using job postings within the last 24 months, existing museums appear to be seeking CTOs, CIOs and Lead Digital Developers who serve a leadership role in strategically researching and recommending the best technological solutions for the museum's needs. The needs encompass both internal and external platforms, meaning internal systems for general operating capabilities as well as external systems for the museum visitor's use. These roles can contribute to a range of museum needs from the technological perspective with the possibility that digital marketing may fall more generally under the marketing department, and chief digital officers (when specifically-designated) are likely to be more responsible for the "external experiences" of museum guests.
The museum's CTO role has evolved significantly in recent years with an overall increase in c-suite technology positions, and this shift mostly accounts for a greater focus on the use of technology to enhance the museum visitor's experience. Sources point this transition to the growing acceptance of digital enhancements within the museum space.
In September 2017, the Seattle Art Museum completed a search for a CTO, naming primary functions as an innovative leader to deepen the museum's overall impact while leading a team of five employees and a $1.4 million dollar budget. The Seattle job positing prioritizes the utilization of a new CRM system, as well as aligning technology with the museum's strategy and improving business operations. Also, along this theme, is the October 2016 announcement of the Fort Worth Museum of Science's new CTO highlights the "creation of immersive and interactive experiences for guests."
The Optical Illusion Museum's search for a CTO reveals a startup museum's needs in this space. In comparison, for the other CTO searches and appointments highlighted above, this position pays significantly less, but indicates a similar need for a leader to enhance the museum with technology.
Chief Digital Officer/Lead Digital Developers
While digital generally correlates with social media and marketing, it can also overlap into roles served by the CTO as found in this research.
A 2016 article pinpoints the competition that museums face from digital entertainment and video games as a main trend for museums to appoint CDO's and Digital Developers. Accordingly, cultural institutions are adjusting their funding to include a CDO of some sort (this likely encompasses the other position names as included in this research). In this theme, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles' search for a Lead Digital Developer does focus on a social media role, but also highlights building overall digital strategy to enhance experience. In fact, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Chief Digital Officer provides a comprehensive overview of museums and the titles of leaders who serve these digital/technological roles, indicating that the overall growth in the enhancement of a museum experience is the priority versus the specific job title.
A September 2017 article from CNBC gives a comprehensive overview of the expansion of digital technology within museums, generally questioning why people want to continue to visit museums when they have online access to most art. Jane Alexander, chief information officer at the Cleveland Museum of Art, says, "The best use of digital is to not make you aware of the technology, but to make you aware of the art." While the article does not specify details about Alexander's role, her quote spotlights the role a museum CIO may take in the digital technology capacity.
Recently, the Baltimore Museum of Art sought a Chief Innovation Officer, which would combine both digital and more traditional marketing channels.
Overall, Museum CTOs are a broad category of c-suite leadership roles that are tasked with the innovation and creation of technology roles that enhance museum services. Whether they care called CIOs, CDOs or CTOs, this trend is to utilize technologies that are increasingly more available to better engage museum visitors who face entertainment and cultural opportunities from many alternative outlets.