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Posted by A-Jay Orr

The Future of Business Technology: 6 Reasons Why You Need a Virtual CIO in 2018

Did you happen to catch the latest Lexus commercial featuring their greatest invention yet — a real, live hover board? Befittingly set to the tune of “It’s here” by Rudimental, the ad had viewers dropping jaws and fondly reminiscing about the movie, Back to The Future.

What Lexus brilliantly reminded us is that we’re on the cusp of another technological revolution; one that experts believe will pale the last 20 years. We’re talking brain-controlled computers, intelligent robots, newfangled atom configurations…but let’s not get carried away. As advancements relate to the immediate future of business technology, some of the trends we can expect include:
  • Increased dependency on cloud computing (which will account for the bulk of new IT spend in 2016)
  • The next generation Wi-Fi, which delivers max physical link rates over 7Gbps (in other words, super fast bit transferring)
  • Smart machines that increasingly replace human intervention
  • Analytics and big data, which will become non-negotiable components of all business operations
  • Mainstream multi-location computing (as smartphone technology continues to evolve)
  • Contextualized systems that are “conscious” and able to respond automatically to stimuli
What’s this really boil down to, Doc? Technology isn’t plug and play, anymore. It’s also not an option. The moment one of your competitors adopts a piece of technology that enables them to work faster and smarter, they gain the competitive edge. Which brings us to today’s topic: 6 reasons you need a virtual CIO. Let’s start from scratch:

What is a Virtual CIO?

Also referred to as vCIOs, a virtual CIO is a contractor or company that serves as an organization’s Chief Information Officer. At their most basic, a vCIO collaborates with you, advises your IT department or acts as your IT department on an as needed basis. That being said, here’s why you need one:

1. They Make Businesses Secure & Compliant

Fact: cybercrime and hacking costs the American economy about $100 billion a year.

Large-scale hack jobs are making headlines left and right these days, and sadly, some of the largest breaches were the result of simple security slip-ups, like not changing passwords regularly, or using the wrong network firewall. A virtual CIO will first and foremost make sure the securities you have in place are current, in line with industry regulations and up-to-date (keep out, Biffs of the world).

2. They Help Businesses Become Flexible, Scalable & Competitive

Fact: Every 12 to 18 months, computers (and the information technologies that use them) double their capabilities. In five years, IT is expected to be 32 times more advanced.

To compete in today’s marketplace, businesses must be agile. By agile, we mean capable of adapting to changes within their vertical. This often involves the capacity to adopt the hardwares, softwares, systems and applications necessary to support a high level of performance and an ever-increasing pace of business. A virtual CIO’s primary focus is to enable businesses to become more flexible and scalable so that, no matter what trends arise in the future, your organization can absorb and leverage them. To do this, they assess your current set-up and use forward thinking to outfit your operation with solutions that will play nice with one another, fluctuate with your changing demands and ultimately — grow alongside your business.

3. They Ensure Your Investments Are Wise

Fact: Comcast and Sprint made Huffington Post’s Most Hated Companies In America List for 2015.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been burned by a vendor (business or otherwise)? We all have! There are a lot of bad ones out there. But there are also a lot of really great ones, and your virtual CIO will help you identify them. Think of your virtual CIO as a technological filter, sitting in on (or leading) vendor meetings and policing all IT-related decisions to make certain you are opting into the right solutions for your short- and long-term goals, and your budget. They’ve spent a lot of time with your business, they understand what you want and need, and they’ll guide your IT decisions in the right direction.

4. They Increase Efficiency & Productivity

Fact: The cloud has helped small- to mid-size businesses reduce IT workload by 42%

When all business components are configured to work seamlessly with one another, and all employees are well versed on how to use the tools and applications at their disposal, an unprecedented level of efficiency and productivity can be reached. Virtual CIOs help create strategies to streamline processes, and will ensure the right systems are in place to support the level of collaboration your business needs to increase its performance and reach front-runner status among its pack of competitors.

5. They Reduce Overhead

Fact: The median salary for a CIO in the United States today is $149,284.

Salary, benefits, office equipment, insurance…great scott! It’s expensive to hire an in-house CIO. How about making a poor IT investment? Too many businesses have been there before… it’s like a slow hemorrhage in your budget. Virtual CIOs can be as involved or uninvolved as you need them to be and best of all, you only pay for their guidance and support as needed. By using a vCIO to make wise technological investments and guide assimilation, you’ll enable your business to compete on a higher level while maintaining a lean operation and healthy bottom line.

6. They Make IT Less Stressful

Fact: Multitasking leads to a 40% increase in errors.

Technology is confusing, and (sorry to break it to you) its only going to get worse. Working with a virtual CIO takes the stress out of IT planning, installation, deployment and support. Virtual CIOs are unique liaisons between business owners and IT vendors, able to speak fluent tech and at the same time, translate complex concepts into language business owners can understand. This also means they can clearly and effectively communicate your exact expectations to IT vendors. As your IT projects roll out, they police every step of the project to ensure it’s done right. After your IT solutions are in place, they demand regular updates from vendors and oversee the timely resolution of any problems you encounter.

Prepare for the future of technology. Virtual CIOs are like the Advil of the business technology world; well worth every penny to alleviate headaches and get you back to doing what you do best — managing your business. As you shop for a virtual CIO, be sure they possess all the necessary certifications. The best vCIOs also have their PMP certification (Project Management Professional), a globally recognized designation.