A virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO) is a professional who advises and helps businesses with developing and implementing IT strategies, managing and protecting data, and finding and using new technologies to improve business operations on a part-time or contract basis instead of working full-time.
If you would like to learn more about the POPI Act and the role of an IO, check out The Essential POPI Act Compliance Checklist that we’ve put together.
So, where does the virtual come in? Not every company needs to have a CIO on staff, or can afford to employ one full time. This is why when you work with Solid Systems, we offer the services of a virtual CIO, who takes on the role of technology planning on your company’s behalf as part and parcel of the Managed IT Services that you receive.
This is just one area where we set ourselves apart in our market. We don’t believe in just offering exceptional IT support. That just comes as a standard. Where the real value lies in partnering with us is in our strategic approach to your technology. We want to see you growing as a business, and we try our best to make sure that every cent you spend with us has a measurable business outcome. To do this, we need to have a thorough understanding of your company, where you see it progressing, and what goals you would like to achieve. This allows us to implement technologies and manage IT projects that have a real impact on productivity, efficiency, and your bottom line. And your VCIO is critical to this process and success.
Why Do You Need A Virtual CIO?
When you work with a Managed IT Services partner like Solid Systems, we’re your IT team, not your IT guy. There are so many different roles that go into providing exceptionally human IT support and customer service! You may get used to seeing the same face or the same name in your emails over and over again, but there is plenty that goes on behind the scenes, involving everyone from Triage, to your IT Pros, to your Account Manager, and even our CEO.
In fact, one of the biggest assets to businesses that work with Solid Systems is a role that not many people understand. Your Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO) adds immeasurable value to your business. I thought I’d take this opportunity to dive into exactly who your virtual CIO is, and what they do.
Why Do Companies Use VCIOs Instead of Hiring Their Own?
While many businesses may elect to bring a CIO onto their team full-time, this is not as simple, or as cost efficient, as you might think. A CIO is a senior management level position, meaning that the role would require a senior management level salary. And on top of that, CIOs often go hand-in-hand with a full internal IT team. After all, your CIO will need a team behind them to put projects and technologies in place, and to run them effectively. The closer they can work with this team, the more effectively projects are able to run. This isn’t always the case of course – it’s not unheard of for a company to hire a CIO internally and outsource their IT to an external partner, but it is a rare scenario.
Companies that are already looking to outsource their IT are often those that don’t have the experience, expertise, or budget at hand to manage their own IT team. Or they have simply realised that focusing on their core strengths is a far better use of their time than having to manage a team of humans whose responsibilities become dedicated to putting out fires and offering IT support instead of growing the business.
Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to see how having the role of a Chief Information Officer outsourced to the same IT company that manages your projects, your technologies and your IT support, makes perfect sense. The roles complement each other, and when your CIO is working intimately together with the same team who is supporting your technology, there is a synergy in everything your IT partner does.
How Can A VCIO Help Your Business?
Now that you have a better understanding of the role that a Chief Information Officer fulfils, and why you might want to look at outsourcing this role to a VCIO rather than an internal hire, I thought I would dig a little deeper into the value that our VCIOs can bring to your business.
At Solid Systems, our VCIOs help companies in a number of different ways:
- Technology Assessments
One of the first steps that our VCIOs take when partnering with a new business is to perform an IT audit and look at the existing technologies that you have in place. Often companies implement tech solutions to address a specific need, but don’t really take full advantage of all the benefits that these solutions have to offer. On the flip side, the more technologies a company uses, the greater the risk of vulnerabilities if the technologies aren’t being managed efficiently.
By performing a technology assessment right off the bat, we can get a better idea of your needs, of areas for improvement, and of the urgency of vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. This all comes together to help our VCIO in the next part of the process – strategic planning.
- Strategic Technology Planning
Technology planning is about so much more than just implementing the latest and ‘greatest’ innovations. Our VCIOs are all about strategy – about planning for the future, and working towards that future one step at a time. Sometimes that does involve introducing new technologies into your company. Other times, it will be small improvements that can be made to the existing systems that you are already working with. There’s scope for training, for adoption, for IT project services. And all of this is taken into consideration when our VCIOs put together a strategic technology plan that meets your needs and sees your technology growing with your business, and helping you work towards (and exceed) your goals.
- Technology Budget
There is little worse in my mind than unexpected expenditure. And when it comes to IT, the expense can be especially high. A system failing or a data breach can see your operations coming to a stand-still, the cost of which can range from thousands to millions of Rands depending on the situation. Our VCIOs help your business to avoid this at all costs. Part of strategic planning is putting together a technology budget that your business can afford, and sticking to it. But on top of that, as part of our Managed IT services, we monitor your systems, setting up alerts that allow us to detect potential problems before they occur, budget for them where necessary, and resolve them before they can lead to last-minute expenses.
- Cyber Security Management
Those alerts that I just mentioned – the ones that help you to manage your IT budget and prevent unnecessary expenditure – those also form part of comprehensive cybersecurity management. It’s about more than just putting security technologies in place and waiting for alerts to pop up warning of potential attacks. Our VCIOs facilitate training for your teams, helping them to understand how their actions can impact your company’s security. They also investigate areas where small adjustments to the way your systems are run can boost email security and cyber security, through regular software updates, Multi-Factor Authentication, and Identity & Access Management, for example.
When even the strongest password can be compromised, you need Multi-Factor Authentication to truly protect your and your employees’ online identities.
- Risk Management
A huge advantage to businesses that use our VCIOs is the ease of mind that the role provides them with. Knowing that there is a professional on your side whose responsibilities are all about implementing the right technologies to meet your needs, and mitigating the risks involved in adopting new tech, gives businesses the confidence to focus on their core competencies, rather than worrying about their IT. Our processes ensure that there is as little risk as possible to taking on new technology solutions, because they are planned out thoroughly and strategically, and systematically implemented, following the best practices that our experienced VCIOs and IT Pros have spent years honing and perfecting.
- IT Project Management
It’s one thing having a whole team of IT professionals behind your business. It’s another matter entirely ensuring that they are coordinated and working together towards your needs. This is where project management comes in, and this is another area where our VCIOs are an invaluable asset to your company. Project management ensures that every IT pro who works on your account is united in a common goal – ensuring that IT projects are run efficiently, effectively, and according to the timeline set out in your technology plan.
Take Advantage Of A Dedicated VCIO For Your Business?
I could talk all day about the advantages of having a VCIO dedicated to managing your technology, but when it comes down to it, you’ll only ever understand the value when you see the impact for yourself. If you are tired of working with IT companies who only ever problem-solve and troubleshoot, and are ready to work with a business that puts your goals and your growth first, then book a consult or get in touch. I can’t wait to show you the difference that an IT company like Solid Systems, and our VCIOs, can make.