Posted by Tom Burt, on

Information is probably the most important asset of any business. As such, it needs a proactive management approach. Sadly, many small businesses lack the necessary technical and financial resources to commit full-time personnel to managing information. The in-house IT crew has a lot of day-to-day responsibilities and may not have enough time to fully devote to information. Information management strategies require a much bigger commitment than simply having an IT team.

Your business requires objective and expert guidance on the best practices, new technology, and risk management. But what is the most cost-effective option? We highly recommend a team of credentialed personnel to act as your virtual Chief Information Officer (or vCIO).

Definition of Virtual CIO (vCIO)

A virtual CIO is an outsourced specialist who understands the nooks and crannies of your type of business. If you partner with a vCIO agency, they create a big-picture mechanism that incorporates and leverages the current technology so your business can stand out in a competitive industry.

Basically, the expert team provides a bundle of managed services to cover the discrepancies in your IT department. Their services are particularly important for small and medium enterprises that cannot afford an executive CIO to drive revenue.

Must Your Company Have CIO?

Research indicates that most small and medium companies don’t have a CIO, mainly due to lack of financial resources. They make strategic decisions without the Chief Information Officer. Large companies, however, have the necessary resources to support a CIO. Still, it’s not easy to come by a good CIO because they are rare and in high demand.

So, how can you ensure that your company has a full-time CIO to cover the responsibilities? An outsourced firm can fill the gap. Your business IT needs will determine whether you need a vCIO or not. Consider having a conversation with your IT specialist to know whether you need an expert CIO.

In general, a company with less than 250 workers doesn’t need an on-site CIO. Again, this depends on how much your business operations rely on technology for growth. There are several questions to ask yourself before hiring an external team of CIOs:

  • What role does technology play in your company?
  • What applications do your customers and employees use and what are their security requirements?
  • What are your data access needs?
  • Do you have growth plans, and what needs do you anticipate in future?

The best alternative is to get virtual assistance from an experienced IT agency to give the necessary knowledge on an as-needed basis. This option not only reduces your financial investment; it provides access to expertise and insights into the right use of technology to move your venture a higher level.

In essence, an external vCIO plan will help with:

  • Increasing the shareholder value
  • Analyzing the IT environment
  • Monitoring the future needs and recommending best measures
  • Planning and designing strategic utilization of technologies

How Your Business Can Benefit from a vCIO

Most organizations find that a full-time CIO comes at a huge price. Instead, the duties that are typical to CIO are often assigned to a CFO or CEO. These responsibilities include disaster recovery and business continuity plans as well as budgeting for future IT needs. These are the responsibilities a virtual CIO can perfectly perform. That way, an on-site IT team will not be bombarded with day-to-day service requests such as issues with servers, computer viruses, or setting up desktops for employees. These activities are time-consuming and may push off important tasks like planning for IT growth.  

Here’s exactly how a vCIO benefits your company:

1. Reduced Costs

Getting a full-time CIO is not only difficult, but expensive as well. These specialists are rare. And when you find one, you’ll likely be coughing over a six-figure salary. Outsourcing seems to be the best solution. Your company receives all the benefits of a CIO without incurring the high overhead.

2. Unparalleled Knowledge and Expertise

When your business hires a team of officers to deal with the information department, it means you’re getting the expert knowledge to develop a strategic roadmap. Generally, an outside agency brings unique techniques because they have worked with businesses similar to yours. You shouldn’t view technology roadmap as an extra IT cost. Rather, it is a necessary tool for furthering your business goals. vCIO services can adopt the best IT strategy to perpetuate your business growth.

3. Security and Disaster Recovery Solutions

Most companies don’t bother to put in disaster recovery measures until a calamity strikes or a security breach occurs. A team of virtual Chief Information Officers can mediate amidst unexpected occurrences. They know how to develop and implement effective preventative plans. Data recovery plans ensure that your company survives a catastrophe. It is always good to prepare for a worst-case scenario, such as a flood in the computer room, long-term power loss, etc. As such, you are guaranteed a custom business continuity strategy that matches your particular needs. If a plan is devised to fit your business, you will always be confident that you have the right protection.

4. Strategic Direction

A fundamental duty of a vCIO is to close the bridges in the prevailing IT operations and address the discrepancies. This entails data regulatory compliance, managing client relationships, information security and financial data management, and preparations for legal audits. Rather than expecting the IT personnel to handle massive paperwork, your outsourced company will perform the duties more effectively because they have the experience to initiate futuristic solutions.  

5. Data Migration and Integration

Information is not a static concept. It changes and grows rapidly. You cannot store a database of information in a single application. You will always find the need to duplicate and hold it in other places within your company. A vCIO firm helps you transfer files, share sensitive data, and monitor the risks involved. They will also establish the best plans for data storage and access. You don’t need to store irrelevant data in your system. The managed services company will show you the right way to eliminate unreliable information.

6. Developing Processes and Policies

Since virtual CIO agencies have extensive experience in finding the best solutions for various businesses, they are in a position to make educated decisions in matters related to technology use and cost reduction. The can help you design a policy for regulating privately-owned technology by your employees, in addition to other processes. You cannot rely on your on-site IT team to make such decisions about managing various devices and platforms. Only an impartial team of officers can be trusted on this.

7. Adding Value to Business Information

You must ensure that your business gets the maximum value from internal data. Do business intelligence and big data sound like jargon to you? Perhaps you are not receiving the technological insights you need from your current IT team. The good thing about using an external vCIO firm is that you get a professional to choose and execute cost-effective techniques for data analytics and visualization. Moreover, the team assures that all managers understand the charts, graphs, and reports that are generated. Your in-house team will, therefore, not waste resources or miss great opportunities trying to analyze business information.

Sure, your IT crew can manage daily maintenance requirements. But a virtual CIO will align technology in accordance with your company objectives. Their main duty is to implement strategic plans that utilize technology to achieve business goals. Such an agency performs the same duties as a normal CIO, only their services are more far-reaching. The time to move forward with vCIO consulting is NOW.

Learn more about our Virtual CIO services

Tags: CIO

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