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Posted by A-Jay Orr

The New Kind of CIO Your Business Can’t Live Without

The title of CIO and IT manager are often used interchangeably, which prevents business leadership from understanding the crucial separation and the unmistakable value a CIO brings to the table. In reality, the only two things these professionals have in common are their technology acumen and availability as a third-party service. That’s right — not every member of your executive leadership team must be a full-time, in-house, six-figure employee. There’s a new breed of CIO called a Virtual CIO (vCIO), and they’re making proper technology support more attainable for organizations than ever before.

Unlike the IT manager, who is responsible for implementing and maintaining specific IT solutions, a CIO’s job is to find ways for this technology to drive the organization forward. The new-age CIO isn’t just an IT expert. They are business-minded with the ability to align the technological needs of your organization with the overarching goals of the company.

CIO’s control costs, re-engineer operational processes, convert data into intelligent action, and develop new revenue streams. They create opportunities and grow the business using technology in strategic and innovative ways. They are responsible for the agility and adaptability of an organization. Most importantly, they are the people who pave a sustainable pathway for long-term success.

Herein lies the problem…

Organization’s who do not have a CIO are essentially bushwhacking in the jungle without survival gear. The digital environment is growing more savage. Cybercriminals are increasingly aggressive and organized in their attacks. Technologies, trends, and best practices change so frequently; it’s impossible to find your way (even for IT professionals) without an experienced guide. But unfortunately, the average salary for a CIO in Ohio is about $118,944 per year. That doesn’t include health insurance, paid time off, bonuses, and other employee benefits. For small to mid-size organizations with tight margins, this isn’t exactly an affordable addition to the team.


Enter — The Virtual CIO.

A virtual CIO assumes all of the same responsibilities as a full-time CIO, but without the overhead cost. This breed of CIO is certified in Project Management and will seamlessly integrate with your workforce to understand business drivers, observe current processes and infrastructure, and engineer an technology strategy that will get your organization safely to the next level and beyond.


Why hire a vCIO instead of a full-time executive?

  • A vCIO will control the rising cost of cybersecurity without taking a large percentage of the budget in the form of a salary. Cybersecurity damage costs are expected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021, which means cost control should be at the top of the priority list for every single organization. A vCIO will maximize your budget with smart, strategic cybersecurity planning.
  • A vCIO is close enough to the business to understand its core drivers and overarching goals, but far enough removed to remain objective about critical decisions. We’ve seen many IT strategies suffer because a business owner gets too close to an IT manager and doesn’t realize that service quality has declined.
  • A vCIO’s only allegiance is to you and your company. vCIOs are vendor agnostic, which means that any solution they recommend is 100% based on the wants and needs of your company, not their own interests or existing loyalties with other service providers.
  • A vCIO’s success depends on YOUR success. Complacency isn’t an option for vCIO’s. As a 3rd party service provider, they must work extra hard to develop and maintain their reputation for quality service. Unlike a full-time executive with a severance package or other benefits, a vCIO can be easily replaced with another provider. Their job security depends on rolling out a proven strategy, reaching benchmarks, and meeting goals.
  • A vCIO prioritizes cybersecurity awareness training and will police your workforce. Your single greatest security threat is your employees. In fact, they are the No. 1 cause of security breaches. HIPAA Journal reported on a study that revealed 70% of U.S. employees still lack privacy and security awareness.

The bottom line — CIO’s aren’t a replacement for your IT support. They are a vital supplement that will make sure your IT solutions align with your business objectives. Your IT people need a leader with the expertise and decision-making power to manage the “big picture” IT strategy; an executive with a seat at the boardroom table. If you are a small to mid-size company, consider working with a virtual CIO instead of hiring a full-time executive to bring your technology strategy full circle.

Learn more about how a virtual CIO will support your organization today, tomorrow, and long into the uncertain future. Click here!