Every year, a breakthrough role is introduced which is supposed to make all the difference for your business. And this year, that role seems to be the rise of the “Fractional CIO”. But what is a Fractional CIO, and how does this role differ from an in-house or Virtual CIO? Is there any difference at all? And what are the benefits of having a CIO for a growing small business?
In this blog, we’ll highlight the history of CIOs, the advent of the VCIO/Fractional CIO, the difference between VCIOs and Fractional CIOs, and how you can get a VCIO for your Barrie business at a fraction of the investment of hiring a CIO in-house.
The Value of CIOs to An Organization
Before we delve into what a fractional or virtual CIO is, it’s probably useful to dig into what a CIO is. You probably already know a little bit about CIOs but if you don’t, CIO stands for Chief Information Officer.
The CIO’s job – really, the job of any IT leader in a growing organization – is multi-fold.
A good CIO:
- Defines the technology strategy for the company, now and in the future, based on best practices and industry trends
- Optimizes the IT department, including processes, spending, and team, to prepare the company to be competitive in a digital-first marketplace
- Safeguards the company against disaster, downtime, security threats, malware, viruses, and more
- Maintains the Network by managing cabling, network speed, security, and usage
- Improves Data Quality across the company through cross-department process improvement, de-silo-ing of data, data standardization, and data warehousing
- Exceeds customer expectations through technology enhancements, website improvements, service desk support, and improved self-service across the buyer’s journey
The CIO is, or should be, the one person in the company whose job it is to own the technology and the network. This executive is usually full-time, is highly experienced, and serves on the board or reports to the board.
And if you’re thinking, “Wait, we don’t have anyone at our company doing anything beyond keeping the IT lights on,” then rest assured that the very reason fractional CIOs exist is to serve the needs of small companies like yours.
Enter the CIO Alternative
To meet the need for an experienced Chief Information Officer without the full-time salary requirement, many organizations are turning to “Virtual” or “Fractional” CIOs, sometimes abbreviated as simply vCIO or VCIO.
The Virtual/Fractional CIO’s job is to fill the technology leadership gap in a growing organization, whether that gap is due to never having a CIO or because that organization finds themselves with an empty seat at the table. As an objective third party, a vCIO can provide a crucial outside eye that can help an organization identify weak spots in technology, planning, or execution.
When you hire a Virtual CIO, you’re getting “fractional” services which are, literally, a fraction of the cost of hiring for a full-time CIO.
For a fraction of the investment, you’re getting the important bits, like:
- Talking about your next quarter business strategy and what technology changes need to happen in order to support your next steps
- Digging into IT helpdesk trends to identify necessary projects and purchases
- Evaluating the tech budget and helping your organization get more for less
- Review apps, software, and licenses for waste and usage optimization
- Working with vendors and helping translate and protect the company’s needs and goals
- Vetting new vendors and performing quality control on their work (vendor management)
- “Owning” network uptime and data integrity
These tasks are too important to leave to a junior IT guy right out of high school, which is why the VCIO role is something we include in every IT MSP partnership. (Click to learn more about ACT360’s VCIO + IT MSP Partnership Program for Ontario Businesses.)
Get Your Company's VCIO From Act 360
At ACT360, we include a Virtual CIO with every IT Managed Services Provider partnership, because we know that technology without strategy simply isn’t good enough. Your VCIO is a member of our executive leadership team and has been working in and running IT for over a decade.
Our VCIO service is wrapped into the same base investment, giving you fractional CIO services that are deeply integrated into the IT management, IT support, license management, and hardware procurement you’re already getting as a result of working with ACT360.
In addition to IT Helpdesk Support, Backup/Recovery, & Microsoft O365 License Management, you’ll also get:
- An experienced VCIO as part of your project
- Quarterly Business Review (QBR) with your VCIO
- Budget review, hardware review, and process review with your VCIO