Why Every Business Needs a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO)
Alignment of your business and technology reduces cost while boosting efficiency.
There are a few aspects of the managed IT services model that are well-known at this point. The concept of proactive technology management and the IT help desk, for example, are now widely understood by companies in all industry verticals.
But there’s another major pillar of the managed service provider (MSP) offering that flies under the radar, while being every bit as important as the first two: the virtual Chief Information Officer or “vCIO.”
Just like a Chief Information Officer in a large enterprise, the vCIO at your MSP will use their advanced technology expertise and understanding of the IT industry to help businesses chart a strategic approach to technology planning and implementation.
From evaluating a network for weaknesses and inefficiencies, to helping clients anticipate changes in the evolving IT landscape and developing a technology plan that aligns with and supports their business goals, the vCIO is the unsung hero of the MSP.
Let’s dig deeper into the vCIO role and what makes their insight so valuable.
Business-Technology Alignment Has Become Central to Success
With each passing year, businesses seem to become more enmeshed with their technology. Companies aren’t just using Microsoft Word to type and send documents anymore, in today’s complex network environment, employees are using suites of specialized collaboration software in each department, from marketing and sales to human resources and finance.
The importance of technology has increased even more since COVID-19 first struck, forcing millions of people into work from home scenarios that depended on complex technology systems.
Without the right tools, workflows, and processes in place, those IT systems can be as much as liability as they are an asset. The vCIO takes responsibility for the “big picture” technology story, ensuring that you have right technologies for your business and that those technologies are properly integrated into your network.
Here are just some of the benefits of IT and business alignment:
- Stronger collaboration between departments
- Great visibility into your technology budget and spending
- Eliminate siloed systems or underperforming IT investments
- Improve client experience and brand reputation
Business-IT alignment doesn’t just improve your morale and efficiency, it has bottom-line benefits as well.
For example, research from Flexera shows that up to 30% of cloud and SaaS budgets are wasted, with this problem especially serious at small and midsized businesses who are more likely than big organizations to spend money on tools they don’t fully understand, or that they can’t integrate properly with their existing technology.
To help combat this problem and provide you with a clear IT budget, a vCIO will develop what’s known as an IT roadmap. This centralized document organizes and prioritizes each of your upcoming IT projects, so that stakeholders from across your organization can understand, communicate, and rally around technology in a cohesive way.
Ensure Your Technology Management Makes Steady Improvements
To optimize the availability and reliability of your network, a qualified MSP will proactively measure and track a variety of network health and help desk metrics, such as first response time (FRT), mean time to resolution (MTTR), and client satisfaction (CSAT).
Those metrics aren’t terribly meaningful by themselves; but, in the hands of a talented vCIO, they can be a powerful tool for making ongoing performance optimizations.
During regular sit-down meetings with your leadership, the vCIO will help you understand the all the metrics related to not just IT support requests, but also to telecommunications performance, your cybersecurity defense, and more. By tying those disparate figures into a single, comprehensive narrative of how your network is functioning they can help track progressive improvement and create more stable IT systems.
- Overall network “health”
- Optimize cloud services and bandwidth usage
- Proactively patch and update systems to maintain stability
- Make targeted adjustments to their support offering to better suit your workflows
How often do you need to meet with the vCIO? Well, that depends on a variety of factors, like the size of your organization and your technology goals. At the very least a reputable MSP should be offering to come onsite and meet with your team at least twice a year, but they may recommend meeting as often as once a month.
Ultimately, the vCIO exists to help you better understand how your business and technology interact, meaning that your vCIO team should be willing to tailor their service to support your business no matter far along you are in the alignment process.
Help Building Stronger Cybersecurity and Compliance Programs
The vCIO engagement is an intimate, long-term relationship that’s built on expertise and trust. This foundation makes it well-suited to delivering targeted support around complex IT challenges, like cybersecurity and regulatory compliance.
Because hiring qualified technicians with experience in these areas is expensive, averaging around $100k a year in Ohio, they’re both a chronic source of insecurity for small and midsized businesses. The only reliable way to address both these areas while keeping costs under control is to partner with a veteran MSP and vCIO team.
How can a vCIO help keep your data safe? There are several important ways, which include:
- Regular Risk Assessments
To develop a reliable cybersecurity or regulatory compliance posture, you’ll need to have a detailed view of where your current systems aren’t up to standard. A vCIO, working in concert with the MSP’s other engineers, can help design and execute a program of risk assessments and audits that dive deep into your network and business and uncover any vulnerabilities you might have overlooked.
- Insight into Key Frameworks
Valuable resources like the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework can be a crucial tool for businesses that want to minimize the risk of cyber intrusion and data loss. With the help of a vCIO, your business can navigate NIST, CIS, ISO, and other important IT frameworks with ease, adapting only the aspects that are relevant and impactful for your business.
Two Decades of vCIO Support for Ohio Businesses
Astute Technology Management and its dedicated team of vCIOs has been helping business in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati achieve greater technology confidence for over 20 years. Interested in transforming IT from a liability into true competitive advantage? Contact our friendly staff any time.