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The Changing Roles of a CTO

The Chief Technology Officer or 'CTO' is one of the most important C-suite positions, but few understand it. CTOs are entrusted with driving innovation, identifying new technologies, and managing IT operations.

Digital transformation is redefining the CTO function, and firms want to align it with business needs. New legal regulations are affecting the CTO's responsibilities. Whatever invention they advocate must be legal.

CTOs must acquire, store, manage, and safeguard their clients' information. They must avoid cyberattacks utilising legitimate digital solutions and channels.

Legal Priorities

Digitalization affects IT security, legislation, data protection, and contract design. Legal issues CTOs should consider

  • Compliance

  • Protecting IP

  • Privacy

  • IP law

During digital transformation, CTOs must address the following IP law components:

Copyrights Trademarks

A trademark is a name, logo, or symbol that identifies a product or service. Trademarks let customers judge a company's reputation.

Copyright protects original music and film. Authors have exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and perform their work. To obtain common law copyright, the author must register their work.

A trade secret is legally protected information a company doesn't want to be publicised. Among them:

  • Formulas\Processes\Patterns

  • Compilations\Programs\Methods

  • Devices\Techniques

  • Agreements

Business owners and CTOs must be aware of digital transformation risks. Risks include digital servers and independent software developers.

CTOs should deploy encryption technologies, teach personnel about safe data storage, and implement NDAs to prevent data leaks.


Digital change is causing firms to rethink how they serve customers. Companies acquire, store, and use customer data. These legal seas are muddy.

CTOs should prioritise:

  • Control data mining

  • Advertising data

  • Compliant data protection

Data protection rules require companies to separate personal and non-personal information. When preserving user information, they should also follow state and industry requirements. A worldwide organisation may consult an expert law firm to ensure compliance with all norms of conduct.

CTO Role Evolution

Technology's rapid advancement has changed the function of the CTO. To be effective, the CTO must adapt to the evolving technology landscape and integrate IT plans into the company's brand strategy.

A mature CTO realises that their job description is adaptable. A CTO must be willing to leave their comfort zone to help the firm flourish. The COVID-19 epidemic has impacted the CTO's work during the previous two years, necessitating ongoing evolution to maintain company survival.

How IT affects UAE and Saudi businesses

UAE has one of the world's greatest Internet access rates, hence the epidemic has boosted e-commerce. UAE e-commerce has doubled in two years. UAE and Saudi Arabia are leaders in digital transformation technologies.

Four technologically superior economic cities have formed due to Saudi Arabia's IoT deployment. This is part of Saudi Arabia's efforts to diversify its economy and attract FDI.

Technological advances have boosted the Middle East's economy. Government and commercial sectors have invested in 5G, AI, IoT, blockchain, cloud computing, and cyber-security.

UAE and Saudi Arabia have invested extensively in AI, putting them at the forefront of the 4IR. Big data and AI are projected to make Saudi Arabia a leader in smart city projects (AI).

UAE consumers have noticed e-recent commerce's surge. More than half of the worldwide population uses Visa and MasterCard to make purchases. UAE has long been a big consumer market.

MENA CTOs must be innovative.

Digital technology is transforming how businesses and governments work in MENA. Increased usage of technology boosts economic growth and competitiveness. The Middle East's voracious thirst for innovation makes it well-suited to exploit digital prospects.

CTOs must see how new technology can help their companies compete in the region. Top CTOs can't just watch while competitors adopt new technologies.

With new technologies, watch the customer. A tech-centric, collaborative, agile workplace requires a transformation in technology leadership.

CTOs may struggle to meet all regulatory standards during digital transformation, especially in the Gulf. CTOs may not be up-to-date on the latest legal needs as technology and laws evolve. In this instance, you need an experienced law company to advise you through your business's growth stages.

Source: Lexology, Hammad & Al-Mehdar: Legal Challenges That CTOs Need to Consider, July 2022

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