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Are your company processes aligned with the technology you have? Have you purchased different software for different things when one software could have been used for multiple things? Do you feel there are technological gaps or challenges not being appropriately addressed? Is your company providing its services or products in the most optimal way? Do you want systems streamlined to meet company goals?
If you have any one of these questions or any others like them, then you may be in need of a vCIO. But is a vCIO just another expense for your company or is it essential to obtaining optimal performance and achieving goals? Here’s what you need to know and should consider.
What is a vCIO?
A vCIO, short for virtual Chief Information Officer, provides all the functions of a CIO that large firms employ to develop strategies designed to leverage technology for optimal business performance. The CIO looks to technology for solutions, aligns it with business needs and goals, and measures its success by establishing metrics. In addition, the CIO keeps informed of all new opportunities and technological developments to ensure the company is up-to-date and on course for success.
Thus, a CIO is vital to an organization’s development, growth, and continued success. The one difference between a CIO and a vCIO, however, is this: resources. A full-time CIO is expensive and requires a lot of resources. You have to provide an office, a workstation, a good salary, and benefits. Those are costs that medium to smaller sized organizations would like to avoid. A vCIO allows these companies to benefit from the skills and knowledge of a CIO without having to put forth the full expense of one. A vCIO can be retained on an as-needed basis, so you pay only for the times you benefit from his or her services. In sum, your smaller company outsources a vCIO and receives larger company executive-level expertise at an affordable basis.
What benefits can a vCIO bring to your company?
To know the benefits a vCIO would bring to your company, a good starting point is understanding better what a vCIO actually does.
A vCIO is equipped with pretty much the same duties and responsibilities that a CIO is, and these include:
- Analyzing IT. A vCIO assesses the hardware and software you use as well as your overall IT infrastructure and aligns it with your business processes and business goals. This analysis allows the vCIO to understand your work processes as well as to identify any challenges, gaps, and tech solutions. Based on this analysis, a vCIO will recommend hardware, software, and IT infrastructure expenditures.
- Strategizing. A vCIO’s primary goal is using technology strategically. The vCIO will develop a plan to create and manage an IT system that helps the company achieve goals. The vCIO has a deep knowledge of technology and business and is able to incorporate both to benefit companies. To incorporate the strategy, the vCIO will work with other stakeholders and direct the IT roadmap.
- Adding Value. A vCIO makes sure that the technology used brings value to the company by helping employees do their jobs better and by providing services and information, among other things, to clients more efficiently. A vCIO makes sure employees and clients get what they need.
- Providing information. They are not called chief information officers for no reason. vCIOs must stay current on all things related to technology, including things that pose as risks to the company, technologically speaking. The vCIO will know all the industry trends and will analyze what the future holds so that the company invests in the right technology now and does not lose out later because of it.
These are the broad responsibilities of a vCIO, and through these responsibilities — if executed well — the company benefits. By leveraging technology strategically and successfully, a vCIO helps the company increase its employee and customer/client satisfaction while also increasing revenue and decreasing expenses.
In this way, the ultimate benefit of a vCIO is this: competitive edge. A vCIO can be that competitive advantage your company has over the competition.
Does your company need a vCIO?
In today’s market, no matter what industry you are in, technology plays a role. And technology is changing and evolving all the time, and with the latter come new opportunities as well and new challenges. No company today should be without an information officer, but so many are, and that’s why so many companies fail to achieve their goals. An information officer brings together technology advancements with company goals, and through this strategic alignment, magic happens.
So the question should really be: do you need a full-time CIO or a vCIO? The answer is dependent on several factors.
- Number of employees. How many employees does your company have? Generally speaking, a company employing 250 people or fewer may benefit from a vCIO, but larger companies typically require full-time CIOs.
- Technology. How much is your company reliant on technology? What are your security needs? How many employees are dependent on technology for their day-to-day tasks? How is data stored and managed?
- Company Growth. Do you intend to grow your company? If so, when and how?
- Business Goals. What are your business goals? How do you intend to reach those goals?
- Resources. What resources, especially in terms of financial resources, does your company have? A vCIO saves you money and helps you increase profits, but the initial costs must be considered.
There are no straightforward means to determine if your company needs a vCIO or not. You must consider the above factors and weigh your answers. Technology today is complex. Its application for strategic purposes is complex. Its benefits, however, are many. Can a vCIO take your company where you want it to go, and can it do so faster, more efficiently, and more effectively?
Is a vCIO essential to your company?
Now for the real question: is the vCIO essential to your business? The short answer: yes. But if you are still unsure, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your company have a go-to IT person who knows all things technology?
- Is the technology your company has being used fully and strategically?
- Are you creating value through your technology?
- Is your data safe and secure?
- Are your employees satisfied?
- Are your clients/customers satisfied?
- Do you see growth in the future?
- Do your IT infrastructure and your business procedures lead to outcomes that achieve business goals?
- Do you have a competitive advantage over your competitors?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then that can be problematic. A vCIO can ensure that all the above questions are answered affirmatively, and when that’s the case, you can rest assured your company is performing optimally. So, ask yourself now: is a vCIO essential to your company? Then act; do your research and find a vCIO that will fit well with your company.