vCIO stands for Virtual Chief Information Officer. The vCIO is a person who provides the same consultation and covers the same responsibilities as an in-house CIO, just virtually.
VCIOs are becoming more popular positions for organizations who want to address their cybersecurity needs more seriously without investing in a full-scale and in-house cybersecurity program.
Much like an in-person CIO, a vCIO oversees their client’s entire IT infrastructure, ensuring everything in a business’ network is running smoothly.
Embracing the digital era is a must for modern businesses looking to remain competitive in an ever-growing, evolving, and expanding digital landscape. That being said, it’s not always clear which technologies belong in your processes and operations.
A vCIO, however, can guide your team through the maze of IT and help you choose a tech stack that suits your organization’s specific needs.
Learn more about integrating tech-based solutions and which ones will have the greatest effect on your company in Impact’s webinar, How to Identify High-Value Opportunities for Innovation.
Key Expectations of a Quality vCIO
It’s important to realize that the role of a vCIO varies significantly between one managed service provider to another. In other words, not all vCIOs are created equal.
Understanding what a high-quality partnership with a vCIO looks like, and what sort of expectations you should set for your vCIO, is vital to making the most out of that relationship. For instance, you don’t want to work with a vCIO whose main priority is to sell as many solutions as they can.
Rather, you’d be better off with a specified set of solutions that are catered to your needs. Arriving at a custom solution like that, though, takes a dedication to learning the ins and outs of your operations.
Here are some of the other key advantages of having a high-quality vCIO as part of your organization:
1. Dedicated Technology Liaison
A quality vCIO serves as a reliable point of contact for technological expertise within your organization.
According to a 2021 study by the McKinsey consulting company, 69 percent of digital transformation projects fail—a shocking statistic.
In order to avoid disparate technology initiatives or failed integrations, the relationship between the decision-maker and the vCIO should be strong, productive, and personal.
Establishing a regular schedule with your vCIO for check-ins, updates, and solution-engineering is a good way to build trust. By embracing a vCIO as a core member of your team, you can fold them into your operations and develop a truly proactive relationship where everyone’s work is aligned toward the same goal.
2. Technical Reporting
Technical reporting is a major aspect of the vCIO’s role, and is a good time to assess, reflect, and take action on the changing goals of your organization. This type of reporting and reflecting typically takes place on a quarterly basis.
These reports mean you are able to assess a number of important areas:
- Compliance needs
- Near- and long-term IT projects and expenses
- Support metrics and satisfaction scores
- Completed and in-flight projects
- Relationship health and partnership alignment
The vCIO acts as the bridge between your business and the technology teams powering your digital transformation. This makes it even more important to have frequent and comprehensive reports on the progress of your infrastructure and to have actionable data available to determine your future goals.
3. Defines IT Objectives and Plans the Technology Roadmap
Planning for your organization’s technological future is an essential part of what makes a vCIO such a valuable part of your business’ digital transformation moving forward.
The consultation provided by the vCIO helps determine the direction and perspective implementations for your organization in the long-term. This can help guide decision makers into more informed choices that better suit the needs of the organization.
This means the vCIO should be able to answer questions about your technology suite involving issues such as:
- Intellectual property protection
- Disaster recovery
- Employee onboarding
- Cybersecurity training
They are able to recommend and maintain vendor relationships for your productivity and line-of-business application suites and verify compatibility between vendors and the existing or planned IT infrastructure.
A good vCIO is proactive and plans proposals for new projects to improve the business’ long-term prospects, and defines these objectives based on your needs and your budget. A high-quality vCIO will also be focused on providing you with a strong recommendation framework which is consistently modified as goals and objectives evolve.
4. The Cost Factor
Let’s not forget one of the most important considerations decision makers are taking into account regarding their digital transformation: expenditure.
Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $4.7 trillion in 2023, an increase of 4.3% from 2022, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc.
While many IT budgets are expanding this year, not every organization has the spending power to hire a full in-house IT team directed by a CIO. However, the need for modern and high-quality technology is only becoming more and more persistent.
Partnering with a vCIO can be an excellent way for an organization to meet their IT infrastructure and technology objectives without investing the time and resources in a fully staffed in-house IT team.
A virtual chief information officer can be a great addition to a team, especially for an organization looking for guidance on their IT infrastructure and their digital transformation initiatives.
However, not all vCIOs deliver the same quality, so keep the following in mind when considering a partnership with one:
- vCIOs provide expert IT consultation and guidance to SMBs
- Be sure that your vCIO is aligned with your vision and is providing the services you require
- A positive and productive relationship between the vCIO and the decision-maker is essential
- A vCIO is efficient and cost-effective for SMBs pursuing managed IT services on a budget
Sometimes the best innovations are hidden just beneath the surface. For help seeing where your organization can improve, check out Impact’s webinar, How to Identify High-Value Opportunities for Innovation.