The role of the chief information officer (CIO) is changing in response to the growing digitalization of companies large and small. Without a competent, capable, and knowledgeable CIO — determined by the standards of today and tomorrow — business executives can find themselves struggling to optimize their IT spend and infrastructure in ways that best align with and enable business objectives.
The CIO’s role
In today’s digital world, the CIO’s role is increasingly important as many business executives shift their views from IT as a cost center to IT as a business enabler and differentiator. Just a handful of years ago, CIOs simply needed technology backgrounds. Now, CIOs must have broader skill sets: skills that extend beyond tech know-how, contributing to business strategy rather than solely coming from a tactical perspective. Current CIOs see the most important personal qualities of any CIO as having:
- Leadership skills
- Communication skills and influence
- An ability to partner with others
The challenge, however, is not defining the CIO’s evolving role but rather finding qualified talent who has the right combination of technical, corporate, and personal skills. This is no easy task, especially for those working within small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Finding CIOs for SMBs
Those working in SMBs often don’t have the need or budget for a full-time CIO position, yet they lack the necessary in-house skills and resources to gain the benefits of a capable CIO. In addition, they may be struggling with the IT talent shortage, which makes it hard enough to hire IT staff members let alone a CIO. Operating without a CIO can lead to a range of problems. Some of which include:
- Poor change management
- Compliance concerns
- Security vulnerabilities
- Missed or unidentified business opportunities
To avoid these pitfalls and gain the benefits of employing a qualified CIO, savvy SMB executives are turning to virtual CIOs (vCIOs).
The vCIO solution
What is a vCIO and how does the role differ from a traditional CIO? A vCIO is an outside consultant business executives hire to provide the skill set of an in-house CIO — expertise in technology as well as strategic vision and boardroom savvy — who works on a retainer or daily rate. This setup gives SMB executives access to essential expertise without the need to invest in a full-time employee with benefits and a salary. vCIOs can help SMB executives keep pace and potentially gain benefits while providing a cost-effective solution to the IT skills gap. To find the right vCIO, many SMBs are looking to managed service providers (MSPs).
MSPs as ideal vCIOs
Why look toward an MSP as a vCIO? Many MSPs already provide those services through existing partnerships. MSPs not only offer the desired skill sets and expertise but also the necessary resources to quickly deliver CIO competencies, balancing the IT perspective with business acumen. The right vCIO will go beyond IT management, asking “business” questions to help formulate IT recommendations. A vCIO should work to understand your cash flow, marketing performance, sales results, profit drivers, and your competitive landscape. If you’re looking for executive IT leadership without the commitment or costs of a full-time employee, partnering with an MSP can complement your business objectives in more ways than one.
At Nauticon, our vCIO services can help you navigate the ever-changing digital landscape to ensure your IT infrastructure aligns with business needs and objectives. For a more detailed list of vCIO benefits, click here.