How a Virtual CIO Keeps Your Business Secure and Supports Growth
May 3, 2022
Depending on the size and scale of your company, you might not have the resources to shell out six figures for a full-time internal Chief Information Officer (CIO) to be part of your team. However, that doesn’t mean that you should simply ignore or avoid filling the responsibilities of that role in other ways.
Instead, consider hiring a virtual CIO who can fill in the gaps of your IT management approach where—and when—needed while your internal IT team executes operational initiatives. A virtual CIO can significantly optimize your IT management strategy, especially if your company is currently patchworking together the responsibilities entailed by the CIO position with multiple IT employees.
Keep reading to learn more about what is a virtual CIO, how virtual CIO services can benefit your company, and get some tips on what to look for when hiring a virtual CIO for your organization.
What Is a CIO?
The Chief Information Officer, or CIO, plays a pivotal role in the advancement and success of a business by leveraging IT resources effectively and efficiently to achieve the organization’s strategic goals and visions. This is a high-level position that can be responsible for a variety of initiatives, including:
- Managing IT staff and overseeing department metrics.
- Developing and leveraging the department budget.
- Launching and maintaining IT hardware, software, and infrastructure.
- Establishing best practices and policies pertaining to IT resources.
- Ensuring compliance with pertinent industry or regional regulations and standards.
- Supporting organizational goals and objectives.
Overall, the CIO functions as a crucial component of a company’s success and security in today’s ever-evolving technological landscape.
What Is a Virtual CIO (vCIO)?
The aforementioned qualities and responsibilities of a CIO come with a hefty price tag—usually six figures for the salary, plus benefits.
In fact, according to data from Salary.com, a CIO’s annual salary can vary from $196k on the low end to over $412k on the high end–with a median annual salary of $292k. For many small to midsize businesses, this can be a prohibitive expense.
If your company doesn’t have that kind of cash to spend in the budget, then a virtual CIO can be the perfect compromise between having a CIO on staff and not having one at all. A virtual CIO, known as a vCIO, can act as an external extension of your internal IT team and deliver CIO services as a third-party operator.
They would be responsible for all of the activities an internal CIO would—providing long-term IT management services to keep your entire tech stack operating smoothly. However, instead of a single person, your IT strategy is administered by an entire team of people with a variety of skills.
What to Look for in a Virtual CIO
When looking for a company to provide virtual CIO services, consider the following qualities and characteristics to look for along the way; ideally, you’ll find an organization that fits these criteria:
- A willingness to learn new IT systems and keep up with emerging industry trends.
- Commitment to your company’s success.
- Great communication practices and ability to work with any level employee to help achieve you achieve your organization’s IT goals and strategic vision.
- A demonstrated record of trustworthiness.
- Comprehensive knowledge of cybersecurity best practices and how to integrate them without creating a cluttered or frustrating user experience (UX).
- Prioritization of customer success and how to effectively deliver a great UX while leveraging IT resources and assets.
- Extensive industry insight and can speak to what would be best for your company’s ideal state.
The virtual CIO position is well-rounded and, as such, the organization which fills that role needs to be equally well-rounded.
Pros and Cons of Hiring a vCIO
As with almost any hiring initiative, it’s important to consider a potential situation from all angles; both the benefits and potential disadvantages of hiring a vCIO are as follows for your business:
Virtual CIO Benefits
- Saves on the cost and ongoing expenses of hiring a permanent CIO employee.
- Gain access to a high-level skillset and multiple perspectives on how to meet IT objectives.
- vCIO services are on your schedule and are determined by your budget and needs.
- Tap into a vast network of vCIO connections and resources.
- Keep your company and assets secure with their knowledge and vision.
Virtual CIO Disadvantages
- Not having a consistent, full-time CIO can leave your internal IT team without constant direction. This is why it’s important to look for organizations that leverage a whole team of experts to provide vCIO services.
- Onboarding them and bringing them up to speed on your company’s vision and goals can take time—though the same is true of an internally-hired CIO as well.
- If it’s not a right fit for your company, then getting out of the service contract can be difficult.
How to Find the Right Virtual CIO Services
When it comes to hiring the right virtual CIO service provider to best suit your company’s needs and strategic goals, keep these tips in mind:
1. Determine and Outline Your Expectations.
How involved do you want your vCIO to be in your company? How frequently do you want to meet with them? What are you hoping to achieve with their help and perspective? Asking these questions amongst yourself and your colleagues can help illuminate what to look for when hiring a vCIO and narrow down the potential candidates.
2. Establish How You’ll Measure Their Success.
As with any role within your organization, it’s important to understand what impact your vCIO is having on your operations and outcomes. Communicating these metrics with your vCIO can help align their vision with your company’s and lead to a great relationship.
3. Look at Their Track Record.
What background does your potential vCIO candidate organization offer? Have they worked in your industry and within relevant compliance standards before? Examining their resume can help inform you of the type of work they have experience in so that you can see how they would operate within your organization.
4. Verify Who Will Be on Your vCIO Team.
Who will be providing the actual services your business will rely on? Is it a single operator or a whole team of software engineers? Be sure to verify who will be on your vCIO team, what their qualifications are, and what each member of the team will be responsible for. This way, you can know what level of service quality to expect.
Keeping Your Business Secure With a vCIO Powered by IT Proactive!
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