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Posted by A-Jay Orr

Your Worst IT Nightmares: True Stories (Vol. 1)

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this article are true and accurate. Brace yourselves…

Technology is like fire. Used correctly, it can shed light on the unknown, protect businesses from danger, nurture growth, and generate power. Misused, it can destroy everything you’ve built. This is why business leaders tread lightly. According to the 21st Annual Global CEO Survey, fears over losing a technological edge have risen more sharply than other types of threats over the past five years. The need to embrace innovation conflicts with the risk of doing so and this is why Chief Information Officers are becoming key business players. We don’t just put out fires, we fire-proof your technology infrastructure to make sure none of these nightmarish situations ever happen to you.

1. The “It Can’t Be Done” Debacle

The culmination of 21st-century tech brings us driverless cars, Bluetooth connectivity, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, the IoT, artificial hearts, bionic hands, mind-controlled devices…the list goes on. When a company’s IT person told them it wasn’t possible to convert their server environment to support Mac computers — I nearly fell out of my chair. More likely, the company’s IT guy didn’t know how to pull it off and chose to protect his ego instead of figuring it out.

Here’s the problem — it’s easy for technology professionals to fib. Most people don’t know enough about IT to detect lies, which makes telling one super simple. Luckily, the CEO was wise enough to ask for a second opinion.

The Outcome

By converting their infrastructure from on-premise to the cloud, employees were able to access applications and data from any device (including Mac computers) in any location. The cloud also gave this company the freedom, flexibility, and scalability to support business development and long-term goals.

2. The Vanishing Act

One of the most interesting calls I ever received came from a business owner who was having trouble connecting to his server…on payroll day…while his IT guy was out of town. Mission critical operations were at a standstill and, understandably, he was on edge. I quickly arrived on site to assess the situation.

I asked to see the server room and the owner politely obliged. But when he opened the door, the room was empty! The look on his face told me everything I needed to know. This was no coincidence. We later discovered that a disgruntled employee who had been fired the Friday prior still had access to the office. Seeking revenge, they went straight for the company’s Achilles — the server equipment and backup tapes.

The Outcome

Insider threats are the No. 1 security concern for businesses in 2018. Had this company been working with a virtual CIO, they would have had proper onsite security measures in place. For example, a lock on the server room door and a process for eliminating a former employee’s onsite and digital access to company property — both of which I was able to help implement. But not before the police were brought in to retrieve the stolen equipment.

3. The Overzealous IT “Expert”

Sometimes, a business owner will reach out to me for perspective on whether or not their current IT support is meeting expectations. Once again, this isn’t an easy thing for someone without IT knowledge to gauge. As a vCIO, my job is to make certain that a company’s technology perfectly aligns with current operational needs, long-term business goals, user expectations, and (of course) budgets. Calling me was a wise move.

Upon arrival, the owner was quick to let me know that he understood the value of investing in technology and wasn’t afraid to prioritize a budget for it. He lead me back to an impressive server room, which housed a commercial-grade temperature controlled server rack unit with only 1 server in it. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: How important is uptime of the system to your business?

Owner: It’s important, but even if the system goes down we can still operate manually.

Me: Do you guys have a lot of power outages in this area?

Owner: No.

Me: Then….why do you have a $60,000 battery back-up unit that is equivalent to what you would find in a large enterprise operation? This equipment is designed to power the entire office in the event of outages.

The owner didn’t have a solid answer.

The hardware was quality stuff; the type of equipment that you would see in an enterprise-level environment. However, it was extremely over-kill for what the company actually needed. My guess? Their IT guy was a “techie” who wanted to get his hands on the latest and greatest solutions. The owner dropped some serious money but what he purchased was unpractical for the environment it was put into.

The Outcome

A vCIO would have properly outfitted a solution that made sense for the business, environment, and budget. We aren’t in this field of work to serve our own interests. We are hired to serve yours. In this case, I identified other instances of over-kill and helped the business trim the technology fat to save tens of thousands of dollars without compromising on security or capabilities.

The moral of these stories…

Nobody wants to wake up in a cold sweat over the health and safety of their business. Keep the nightmares away by working with a virtual CIO. vCIO’s are vendor-agnostic, which makes us ideal sources for advice. Our only loyalty is to you, we don’t succeed unless we help you succeed, and this dedication is far more affordable than hiring an in-house executive.

Interested in learning more about what a vCIO can do for you? Click here to watch a short video!