Not long ago, fully leveraging the benefits of technology was a privilege available only to businesses large enough to afford mass amounts of hardware and a fully-staffed IT department. Now, though, businesses of all sizes are seeing the advantages of technological progression, and a number of new services and technologies are making it possible for them to compete with large businesses on a fraction of their budget.
One such service that is helping level the playing field for small to medium sized businesses is that of a virtual Chief Information Officer (virtual CIO).
What is a Virtual CIO?
Virtual CIOs deliver all of the same services as an on-site CIO. Thanks to the scale at which they operate, though, virtual CIOs are able to offer these services at a fraction of what it would cost to hire an on-site CIO.
For businesses without a large IT department in place, virtual CIOs take on several of the tasks that an IT department would normally handle. For businesses that do have an IT department, virtual CIOs help better manage the IT staff and enable them to handle challenges they might not be able to handle on their own.
Virtual CIOs also serve as a voice of leadership within your company – one that understands your goals and understands how technology can be used to help you meet them.
Benefits of a Virtual CIO
For businesses not yet large enough to justify a full-scale IT department and an on-site CIO, the benefits offered by a virtual CIO are the perfect solution. These benefits include:
1. Enhanced Security
In today’s business world, cyber security is one of the most challenging obstacles facing executives. Just in the past year or so we’ve seen one costly attack after another, with the tools needed to cripple businesses and steal their money and data now becoming available to more and more cyber criminals.
The good news is that, by and large, the technology and procedures necessary to prevent these attacks is available. The bad news is that many business owners and executives are unaware of the software they need to install and protocols they need to adopt, leaving them vulnerable. One of the tasks of a virtual CIO, though, is to examine a business’s existing security and improve it as much as possible. This ensures that businesses remain protected against the increasing number of threats they face.
2. Disaster Recovery
In the immediate aftermath of a cyber attack or other disaster that compromises your business’s data, following the right disaster recovery procedures is crucial in order to limit the damage. As soon as a disaster takes place, a virtual CIO will step in to start fixing the problems that it has caused and containing the fallout. In addition to this, virtual CIOs will also work with your business beforehand to develop a disaster recovery plan, leaving you fully prepared in the event that a disaster does take place.
3. Technological Growth
One of the primary roles of any executive is to help their department grow and expand the value that it offers to the business. The same is true of virtual CIOs, who work to develop a technology roadmap to ensure that your business meets its technological goals.
Not only will a virtual CIO work with you to meet your technological goals, they will also analyze all of your business’s goals and offer strategies about how you can use technology to better meet them. Virtual CIOs are experts at leveraging technological solutions for a wide range of business purposes. From sales and marketing to improving efficiency, a virtual CIO will be able to provide forward-thinking strategies for how technology can be used to improve all areas of your business.
4. IT Budgeting and Financial Planning
The goal of your business’s technology and IT department is always to make or save your business more money than it costs. However, without the right guidance, businesses can often end up either putting too little money into their technology for it to be effective or putting too much money into it and causing it to become a drain on the business’s finances.
One of the primary roles of virtual CIOs, therefore, is to help businesses determine how to best allocate their funds as far as their technology is concerned. In addition to helping businesses develop a technological roadmap, virtual CIOs will work with business owners to create a budget that will allow them to best meet their technological goals while spending no more than is required. In this way, virtual CIOs are able to help businesses spur technological growth and improve their IT departments all while saving them money at the same time.
5. IT Management
Like any department, IT departments require great management in order to function at their highest capacity. Without a CIO at their head, though, IT departments can often suffer from a lack of leadership.
A virtual CIO serves as a source of guidance and management for your IT department. Employees are able to go to them with questions, and the virtual CIO is able to monitor employee performance to ensure the department is functioning as it should.
Even if your business outsources their IT tasks, virtual CIOs can still monitor the performance of the people you outsource to and ensure that your business stays on track from an IT standpoint. In short, no matter how large or small your IT department might be, a virtual CIO serves as much needed leadership to keep it functioning flawlessly.
6. Technologically Inclined Leadership
For many business owners, running the technological aspects of a modern business can sometimes feel like stumbling around in the dark. Unless you are highly technologically inclined, some aspects of your business will almost always seem like a mystery.
This may leave you wondering whether the decisions you are making regarding your business’s technology are really the best ones to make. With a virtual CIO, though, your business will have a source of leadership that fully understands the technology your business implements.
Virtual CIOs span the gap between IT employees who understand how the technology works but not necessarily how it affects the big-picture goals of the business and executives who understand the big picture goals but don’t fully understand how the technology works. In this way, virtual CIOs can provide technologically inclined leadership that can often prove highly valuable in modern businesses.
Leveraging the Benefits of a Virtual CIO
There’s little denying the advantages that a CIO offers to businesses who employ them. For small to medium sized businesses, though, hiring an on-site CIO may not be feasible.
Thanks to virtual CIOs, however, these businesses can now experience all of the same benefits at a price that is easily justifiable. It’s a service that has really helped level the playing field between small and large businesses and has made businesses of all sizes able to fully make use of the technology that exists.
For this reason, we are proud to offer virtual CIO services as one of our several small to medium sized business solutions. If you would like to start boosting your business with the help a virtual CIO, we invite you to contact us today.