A Virtual CIO or “vCIO” is basically the outsourcing of all of the functions of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) for businesses that may not have the experience or the budget to take advantage of a full-time CIO.
All businesses, as they grow, will eventually need a CIO (or someone to perform the functions of a CIO) to help them identify and plan the use of technology to protect their business, improve processes, and support meeting their organization’s goals. One great option is to outsource this function by implementing a virtual CIO for a variety of sound business reasons including reducing labor costs and providing expert knowledge and resources.
What is a CIO’s Role and What Can They do for my Business?
A Chief Information Officer, also known as a Chief Digital Information Officer is responsible for the strategic insight on how technology will drive the business forward. They are the bridge between the technology and business sides of an organization and link the two of them together to meet the businesses’ objectives and goals. They manage IT resources and budgets, make recommendations on or purchase equipment, manage IT resources, plan and develop policy, evaluate security, and calculate how to make an additional profit using the businesses technology. They are responsible for the company’s technology roadmap.
On a day-to-day basis they are reviewing new technology, identifying when the business’s current technology will need to be replaced, managing vendors for cost efficiency, and ensuring the business technology can meet future needs. They are a key factor in reviewing current business processes while optimizing (improving, automating, etc.) them and planning for future business processes.
In smaller companies, especially technology startups, this role is created over time, and a developer or Chief Technology Officer fills this role. Eventually, a business needs to separate the responsibilities between product technology development and business technology development. Each of these roles have clearly different goals to advance a business.
What Businesses are a Good Fit for a vCIO
Your business could benefit from a vCIO if:
- You are a small company that is growing and needing some help with making technology work for your business
- Your IT department just can’t keep up with technology advancements or doesn’t have the skills to keep up with your growing company
- You are looking for a technology expert to help you plan or get better at planning technology
- You think you could save money and labor costs by focusing on technology to solve your business problems, but don’t have the budget for a full-time employee just yet
- You are a strategic business owner and understand the value of a well thought out technology plan that can help your business. You see don’t see IT as a cost center, but as a potential profit center for your business
What Businesses Are Not a Good Fit? For a vCIO
Your business may not benefit from a vCIO if:
- Your company isn’t looking this far ahead on how technology could support your business
- You are afraid to lose a team member in your IT department, even if that means your company will run more efficiently
- You make technology purchases on an as-needed basis, with the cost of these purchases being the deciding factor. You are not interested in building a plan for future technology purchases
- You already have an IT Director or a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) that you feel already does this planning for you
What are the benefits of a Virtual CIO?
The most beneficial reason to having a vCIO is having someone that can take an objective look at your business and then make technology recommendations that will improve your business and achieve your goals. Many times a vCIO is more beneficial because they are outside your business and have expertise that goes beyond what you could potentially hire in this role.
Cost Efficiency: A full-time expert CIO, ready when you need them, but not going to cost you a “six-figure” salary plus benefits and the associated staff. When you opt for a virtual CIO, you can still have access to all of the benefits of having a CIO, but won’t have the burden of adding this executive to your payroll until your business can afford one. Hiring a vCIO has much to do with value vs. affordability, two things any business owner has to manage continually.
Knowledgeable Expert: If you’re a growing business and could really use the expert knowledge of a CIO on your staff or part of your management team, but can’t justify the cost, a vCIO is probably exactly what you need. By outsourcing this need, you can tap into an expert that is up to speed on the latest business technology and is currently solving business problems just like yours. This expert can help you map out your technology now and what you will need in the future, then stay right on top of it so your business can compete with other businesses that may have a CIO or more vast resources.
In today’s business world we rely on technology for everyday things like smartphones and Internet access, but technology can also be used to make smart business decisions that will drive process and profits. Other areas a vCIO can help your business include strategy, making informed decisions, and aligning technology with your business goals— it's hard to run a successful business and compete without one! In fact, here's how every small business could leverage data with the help of a vCIO.
At AIS, we don’t provide a vCIO as a stand-alone service. Instead, we think a much better option is to incorporate it with other strategic IT services (Managed Network Services) like support, network performance, and making sure you are operating in a secure environment as these are vital in providing our clients both strategic management (vCIO) and tactical management. For more information, click on this link to learn more about our vCIO and Managed Network Services, or contact us and we would be happy to start a conversation with you about your current and future business technology needs. Don’t take our word for it. Please contact us to speak with one of our IT clients.