The emergence of virtual service offerings over the last decade has been transformational in numerous ways. Smaller companies that do not have a budget to hire a full-time C-suite level expert can now get their services on a part-time basis. It has also led to the emergence of companies that package these services so that client companies can pick what suits them best. A virtual chief information officer (CIO) helps to formulate an IT strategy on a flexible arrangement.
Why Is Hiring a Virtual CIO Worth it
Technology moves fast nowadays. There are new iterations of hardware and software every year. There are competing alternatives, all offering different propositions, and it can get overwhelming for non-technical people running an organization.
This is where a virtual CIO would come in as a technology consultant. They can tell which IT infrastructure is outdated and could be costing the organization in terms of efficiency and quality. The virtual CIO would also advise on how best the IT budget. IT infrastructure can be costly to acquire and as such, some planning and strategy is required. The CIO is best placed to advise on the expected useful of IT infrastructure. They can also advise on what vendors to use. If the vendor is supposed to provide maintenance services, the virtual CIO can consult during drawing up of a contract.
A virtual CIO can also act as a human resources advisor. If a company has a significant IT infrastructure that needs maintenance and support for non-technical staff, they can help in putting together a team. The CIO will help draw up job descriptions and specifications for the best people to hold them. They will also help develop remuneration packages. If need be, they could also help with the recruitment process of the said IT staffers.
What Types of Businesses Need a Virtual CIO
Technically, all businesses that have significant IT resources can benefit from having a CIO. They help put together a firm IT strategy to help the business run more efficiently. Hiring a CIO, whether virtual or full-time, is largely a factor of the budget. A full-time CIO at a medium-size company can earn as much as $150,000 per annum. Hiring virtual CIO services can cost between $2500 to $10,000 a month, depending on the package of services your firm expects.
Firms with Sensitive Data
Firms that are involved in handling sensitive data could use the services of a virtual CIO to put together an information security strategy. A virtual CIO will analyze the flow of information within the company to help establish potential security threats. They will then help put together preventive measures to address both internal and security threats.
Some of the measures they are likely to help implement include increasing employee skill set so that they take up best IT practices to minimize threats when handling company assets. The virtual CIO can also help to put together proper foolproof backups for sensitive data. The CIO would also help create an audit trail so that people can be held accountable in the chain of information custody in an organization.
Firms in Rapidly Changing Sectors
Any organization in a sector that is fast-changing in terms of technology can use a virtual CIO if hiring a full-time person is too expensive. Rapid change can put firms that are slow to react out of business. However, acquiring new IT infrastructure without a clear strategy could lead to the burning of cash without a proper return on investment.
An experienced CIO is likely to have managed a similar change in the past. They will help identify the most critical areas of change. They will identify what technology to acquire as well as what human resource skills are required to couple with the hardware and software. A virtual CIO will put together a budget, a timeline, and milestones for the migration project. It also puts other staff members at ease knowing that an experienced head is leading the change.
Fast Growing Businesses
A business that is scaling or about to start scaling can benefit immensely from the services of a virtual CIO. Having the right infrastructure is critical to a business’s ability to handle extra demands arising from expansion.
A CIO comes in to put together a strategy for expanding the IT infrastructure as well as the capacity of the IT team. As indicated, the lack of proper guidance can lead to wastefulness through the acquisition of non-critical items. A fast-growing business also needs to be able to hire and deploy staff quickly and as such needs a recruitment pipeline. An experienced CIO is able to point the business in the right direction in terms of where to look and what to look for.
Fast growth also creates vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure. It is important to look out for potential threats, including in the choice of IT services vendors. A virtual CIO is likely to be involved in the selection of vendors, and their recommendations can help save time when the organization is pressed to move fast.
Scaling also means that the size of the IT department will also grow. The team might find itself needing a senior enough person to provide vision and focus that align with the overall strategic goals of the company. In that case, getting a full-time CIO may be helpful. If the firm still cannot afford it, then a virtual CIO is the next best solution.
Picking the Right Virtual CIO Service Provider
Going about choosing a virtual CIO can be a tricky process. One of the most crucial things the company must ensure is that the CIO understands the company’s culture. This has to do with issues such as corporate governance, relationships with subordinates, communication style, and so forth. Hiring a virtual CIO should not be disruptive to the existing harmony in a company. The chosen CIO must also be well versed in the industry the client company operates. This experience will serve as a contextual reference when they offer advice, answer questions, and develop a strategy. They should be able to provide documented case studies where their services have led to a tangible transformation in other companies.
To learn more about virtual CIO services, check out Transcendent Software LLC. We are a fully-fledged IT services company enabling client companies to make the best use of their IT infrastructure.