[UPDATED] The Minnesota Tech CTO Survey – Spring 2019

by The TECHdotMN Team


Thanks to underwriting sponsor Collective Genius, we are introducing a twice-annual Minnesota Tech CTO survey.

Updated 4/9/19 Responses from 21 participating Minnesota Tech CTOs:




What is your ratio of junior to senior team members?

All senior for now.
10% senior, 90% junior
30/70 Senior/Junior
90% senior
3 / 1
80% Senior
70% senior to 30% junior

What Is Your Preferred Tech Stack To Work In & Why?

  • Docker / AWS / PostgreSQL, PHP or Java, + Angular
  • PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (Angular, jQuery) – because it’s the most generic web stack and has the most existing and open source code to leverage. You never have to start from scratch and lots if info and resources available. Most devs know PHP event if they don’t advertise it.
  • LAMP, React.js, native mobile. We are mobile first and can’t sacrifice user experience for cross platform tooling
  • Ruby on Rails – speed of development and ability to turn new requests quickly
  • VueJS, ReactJS w/ NodeJS Backend, MEAN
  • Go/MySQL/React has scaled well with our team growth. As a friend recently pointed out, it has allowed enough of a “middle of the road” approach between pragmatic and dogmatic code structures.
  • Java, Angular, R, MS SQL
  • .NET – strong community, great cloud support with Azure, senior talent in the midwest is there.
  • MEAN/MERN . Open source, community, performance,
  • Angular frontend, rails backend; mainly because this is what the teams is most familiar with
  • LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) – Low cost but high quality.
  • Java / Angular / Others as appropriate
  • Ruby, React, PostgreSQL. Flexibility. Community. Debugging.
  • C++ for cross platform yet machine level implementations for security and speed.
  • Linux, Nodejs, R, Python – Microsoft environment is 1) more expensive, 2) does not play nice with others
  • Anything open source (as opposed to proprietary or “open core”); we don’t have a four-letter “stack”; combination of dealing with legacy technology and leveraging the appropriate tool for the job, given various constraints
  • Technologies running on JVM such as Java, Groovy, Scala, Kotlin, Frameworks such as Spring, Angular. We use JVM stack to have interoperability between languages
  • AWS, LEMP, Vue.js – Proven, powerful and robust wstack for web applications.
  • Golang / Angular 2
  • Our primary application is Rails with some Vue.js on the front end. Speed to market was the biggest factor for us with Rails. And Vue.js has a nice “use what you need” approach vs. having to drink the kool-aid for React and some others.

What New Technologies Are You Experimenting With Or Implementing?

  • Google Dart
  • React and Ionic Framework.
  • React.js has been a big part of our new development
  • we are aligned with AWS and are beginning usage of “Sagemaker” machine learning concepts and of the new Lambda capabilities as well.
  • n/a
  • React Native
  • Not new necessarily but new for us: Kafka / Kinesis, workflow orchestration, apache spark, snowflake
  • AWS based data science, data lake, Redshift, etc.
  • HDFS/Spark
  • Tech is not new to the scene, but we are looking at adding Elastic Search to our stack
  • Elastic Search / Kibana Machine Learning / Many Fraud detection tools
  • Cellular LTE NB-IoT
  • Continuous Integration / Deployment, Containers, AWS Fargate, Infrastructure as Code, Data Lake, Analytics / Machine Learning
  • Go. AI. Quantum.
  • Advanced Biometrics, Identity Access Management, Security
  • Distributed computing solutions for extreme high end big data analytics
  • OpenShift, Ansible, Kubernetes
  • Kotlin, Graph database, Other NoSQL databases
  • ML/AI
  • TestCafe for e2e tests, multi modal NOSQL db’s
  • Doing more in Node. AWS Lambda, Browser extensions

What Is Your Biggest Challenge With 2019 Technology Objectives (Aside from “talent”)?

  • Managing system architecture transformations alongside business product needs
  • Raising quality and efficiency at the same time. Empowering our users to do more on their own. Improving analytics in all aspects of our product.
  • Talent is not a challenge for us at all, I would say allocating budget vs using that budget on sales and marketing.
  • we are in a high growth mode and “scale” is the biggest concern right now.
  • Increase Efficiency, Decrease Tech Bloat
  • With the amount of innovation in the space, deciding the correct prioritization in what is possible to complete within the year and how that will compete in the market and satisfy that the wants of all stakeholders.
  • Too much to do, too little time
  • Moving to the cloud
  • Cloud computing costs
  • Developers more familiar with node/react vs rails/angular (node/react mono culture)
  • Upgrading Legacy systems to current standards / Regulations – GDPR – CCPA / Fraud Detection
  • Consumer readiness for new cellular technology.
  • Meeting customer demand while continuing to develop / mature new platform. Continuing to automate platform testing, configuration, and operations
  • Time
  • firm requirements.
  • Time to appropriately kick the tires of all the cool technology out there, while still meeting customer deliverables
  • Taming operations while building out new products and features
  • new technologies are not matured enough
  • ops outsourcing without divulging content
  • Prioritizing in a changing industry with limited budget

What Are Your Mission Critical Hires (Role/Title) Based On Your 2019 Objectives?

  • Additional mid-to-senior developers, team leads, systems engineers, and QA
  • Front end dev/UX expert. Stretch goal, marketing/sales support specialist.
  • Couple of entry level engineers
  • Dir – Analytics, Sr developers, QA engineers
  • Sales/Marketing
  • Engineering/Technical Product manager
  • ETL Engineers, DevOps Engineers
  • Sr DevOps Engineer, Sr Security Engineer
  • Data Scientist and Data Engineer
  • Frontend & extension developer/Senior Engineer
  • Senior Developer
  • Embedded software
  • Yes
  • Former CTOs
  • Lead System Level Developer (C++, Java, SQL, TCP/IP, parallel processing, etc)
  • Data Engineer, Project Manager, Data Scientist, Linux Nodejs Full Stack Developer
  • Product Managers
  • Full stack developer
  • Senior Software Engineers, Product UX, Product Management
  • Senior Architects / Senior Devs
  • Developer Advocate is big for us. Along with more front-end talent.

What Are The Most In-Demand Skills On Your Team Currently?

  • full-stack development
  • Full stack dev with emphasis on UX.
  • We are spread pretty evenly, but React is probably the single most in demand skill
  • Full stack devs, AWS engineers
  • Sales/Marketing
  • Database administration, software/system architecture, and Test Driven Development practices
  • Data science, big data processing, devOps
  • DevOps, Security, Data Science
  • Javascript, Python
  • Chrome extension development
  • PHP / MySQL / NoSQL
  • Embedded software
  • Front End Development, QA Automation Engineer, Data Engineer
  • Social and relationships
  • C++, Java, device drivers, server parallel processing
  • Data Engineer
  • Architecture, Engineering
  • Graph Database, Angular
  • Full Stack Development
  • Golang / Angular 2
  • Rails and Vue.js

What Is On The Top Of Your Recommended Reading List Right Now For CTO Peers?

    • Continuous Delivery
    • We live by Rework (David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried)
    • Traction
    • Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink
    • n/a
    • The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz
    • The Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan, Steve Drotter, Jim Noel
    • The Hard Thing About Hard Things
    • Bad Blood
    • Drive by Daniel Pink
    • Podcasts! – Tim Ferriss
    • Rocket Fuel
    • Ideal Team Player
    • Hard Thing About Hard Things
    • Identity Access Management – Security
    • Stackoverflow.com
    • The Messy Middle, Scott Belsky
    • Continues Delivery, Graph Databases, Kotlin
    • Blitzscaling
    • The Hard Thing About Hard Things
    • Besides online resources for my career, I only read fiction to try and quiet my head from the rest of my tech life


Original 5/28/19 11:00am CST: The 15 question Q&A was co-created with inputs from practicing Minnesota Tech CTOs and has being distributed to all CTOs prior interviewed.  If you are a local CTO by title and have not been interviewed yet and want to participate — by all means go for it. We intend to share results with our audience mid-April.