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What Is a vCIO and Does Your Business Need One?

vCIO Definition: A Virtual Chief Information Officer, or vCIO, is a person who provides consultation for your technology strategy as a third-party, as opposed to an in-house CIO.

They oversee the client’s entire IT infrastructure, ensuring everything in a business’s network is firing smoothly.

Many SMBs are coming to the conclusion that digital transformation is a necessary step for their company to remain competitive, but have budgetary concerns regarding their IT departments.

This is where MSPs can step in to be an effective and affordable tool for implementing and maintaining IT solutions for small businesses.

75% of SMBs outsource at least some of their IT to an MSP

They will provide you with a vCIO, who will remotely oversee your tech operations, as well as further implementations and general maintenance.

Key Expectations You Should Have of a Quality vCIO

It’s important to understand that the role of a vCIO varies significantly between one managed service provider to another.

Many MSPs will offer vCIO services to their clients, but the quality of the assistance they give can (and should) be a deal-breaker for SMBs looking toward having a comprehensive model of support.

Many emerging MSPs will offer vCIOs who function as little more than glorified salespeople—which is no use to an SMB that is serious about digital transformation.

Make certain that your relationship with your vCIO provides exactly the benefits you need to grow your business.

At Impact, for example, our vCIOs provide organizations a host of benefits.

Here are some of the key advantages of having a vCIO as part of your organization:

1. Dedicated Technology Liaison for Your Company

A quality vCIO should be able to provide sole focus on your business as a reliable point of contact for technological expertise.

A staggering 71% of businesses have orphaned subscriptions (often in the form of legacy software that is no longer fit for purpose), each having three on average. If you have orphaned technology, then you’re effectively carrying dead weight in your organization.

Though virtual in name, the relationship between the decision maker and the vCIO should be strong, productive, and personal.

How often are they available? How often will you speak with them? What kind of proactive guidance and expertise will they provide?

These are the kinds of questions you need to know the answers to before you can be satisfied with what the MSP is giving you.

Ask the MSP about their existing relationships with other SMBs to get another perspective of what your vCIO relationship will likely look like.

Managed services global market, 2009-2024

2. Technical Reporting for the Client

As part of the vCIO’s close relationship with the client, you should also be expecting periodic meetings between yourself and the vCIO in order to assess, reflect, and take action on the changing goals of your organization. These should be determined by what you are comfortable with, but will typically take place on a quarterly basis.

These reports mean you are able to assess a number of areas important to you:

  • 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 is the bridge between your business and the technology teams powering your digital transformation.

It’s 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

This is an essential part of what makes a vCIO an integral part of your business’ digital transformation moving forward.

The consultation provided by the vCIO determines the direction and prospective implementations for your organization long-term.

The vCIO should be able to answer questions about your technology suite involving issues such as:

  • Intellectual property protection
  • Disaster recovery
  • Employee on-boarding
  • 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 your existing or planned IT infrastructure.

A good vCIO is proactive and should plan proposals for new projects to improve the business’ long-term prospects, and defines these objectives based on your needs and your budget.

They should be focused on providing you with a strong recommendation framework which is consistently modified as your organization’s goals evolve.

Related Post: Why a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) Is Good for Your Business

Break/fix vs managed services

4. The Cost Factor

Let’s not forget one of the most important considerations decision makers are making in their digital transformations: expenditure.

89% of companies expect to grow or maintain their IT budgets this year

Working with an MSP is a comparatively cost-effective way of hiring an IT team to keep your tech infrastructure running smoothly.

Employing a full-time salaried on-site CIO can be expensive for small businesses.

For SMB owners who may not have the funds to directly hire IT staff, they can instead partner with an MSP that provides a vCIO—in addition to a host of support staff and engineers.

Takeaways

  • vCIOs give expert IT consultation and guidance to SMBs
  • Not all vCIO services are equal—be sure that your MSP is providing the services you require
  • A positive and productive relationship between the vCIO and the decision maker is essential and necessary
  • A vCIO is efficient and cost-effective for SMBs pursuing managed IT services on a budget

Many organizations have found themselves playing catchup, trying to implement makeshift technology solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces see drastic transformations.

To find out more about how the cloud can ensure your business’ IT infrastructure is in good shape for the future, download our eBook, “Does Your Business Need a Managed IT Service Provider?”