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Bob Martin, Sales Executive

The Ins and Outs of a vCIO

A vCIO or a Virtual Chief Information Officer is an individual who consults with businesses and organizations on their technology strategy. This, often times, is a benefit of your third-party network services provider, as opposed to having a full-time, in-house Chief Information Officer.

Much like an in-house CIO, a vCIO oversee an organization’s entire IT infrastructure.  With a vCIO, you’ll have access to the knowledge and expertise of a CIO, without the salary of having a full-time officer on staff.  The primary role of the vCIO is to formulate strategic IT goals for your company, and then manage an IT strategy and budget that meets those goals.

If a full-time IT staff and CIO are not in your business plan for this year (which is very common for small-to-mid size businesses), you’ll still need to remain current with technology and the digital transformation to stay competitive.  Partnering with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) that offers vCIO’s in their packages is generally the best route to take. Most MSP’s will provide a vCIO who will remotely oversee your IT operations, implementation, and maintenance of your network.

Who Needs a vCIO?

Regardless of what your business does, you use technology to run it. Technology really is the backbone of your business and without it, you wouldn’t be able to operate at peak performance like other businesses in your industry.

Every single business has some sort of IT support – whether it’s a friend or employee that dabbles in it from time to time, your own IT team, or an outsourced MSP. If you fall into the latter two, you will probably realize the benefits of using a vCIO.

Many organizations struggle with their core business challenges and even internal IT teams can get overrun with keeping up with operations and system maintenance. There is usually not a lot of time left for strategic planning.  This leaves organizations to continue maintaining outdated technology rather then leveraging it to increase revenue and decrease expenses.  If these examples resonate with you, there’s a great chance a vCIO can help bring the recommendations that will keep your business current with technology and protect your vital intellectual property.

What Will a vCIO Do For My Organization?

  • Reviews Your IT Environment – vCIO’s perform assessments with the rest of your technology team (or leadership team) and review findings and results. Having the knowledge and expertise to find what to look for and create a Technology Roadmap for future growth, is detrimental to your company’s performance.
  • Strategically Utilizes Technology – Aligning the proper technology to your company’s unique needs and vision is extremely important when it comes to maintaining operational efficiency. Your vCIO will bring the technical knowledge to your team on what works best and which technologies do not play well with your existing infrastructure. Look at them as an extension of your Leadership Team.
  • Data Backup and Recovery – In addition to Technology Roadmaps, a vCIO will also aids in developing data recovery and backup plans.
  • Maintain Relationships with Existing Vendors – They are a huge resource for recommending and maintain relationships with current and new vendors and will verify compatibility with your existing or future infrastructure.
  • Future Planning – vCIO’s, just like CIO’s, spend a lot of time keeping up with industry trends, where the market is going for technology, and new IT products and services. The benefit to. Your team is that they know what is on the horizon and will analyze the impact it could have on your organization, potentially helping you invest in the right technology, at the right time. This could give you a tremendous competitive advantage.

How Much Does a vCIO Cost?

Most small to medium sized business do not always have the means to build a CIO into their payroll. While pricing structures vary, a vCIO typically charges an hourly rate, a flat fee,  or is included in an MSP’s monthly subscription model.  The hourly rate can vary but typically starts at $200 per hour. Managed Services Providers monthly plans will include a vCIO and you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 – $10,000+ a month depending on the size of your organization, the services you require, and many other factors.

Most SMBs have someone who is experienced with their IT systems but not likely enough to devise a long-term technology plan.  If your business is quickly growing, you will need to do a lot of planning to be sure the infrastructure can keep up.  Doing this, while keeping your business protected, can be a major and cumbersome challenge.

Developing a strategic technology plan can be very complex and time consuming. An experienced vCIO can be a tremendous benefit to your organization and will be an extension of your leadership team to assist with emerging technology and advice. Whether you choose to supplement their expertise with your current IT team, or utilize them in conjunction with a Managed Services Provider subscription, a vCIO could be the next step to future growth.