There’s a rather grim joke that CIO is an acronym for “Career is over.” We’ve been used to the idea that a CIO is merely a network plumber whose sole responsibility is to figure out a way to keep our data pipes clean and connected so that companies won’t have to experience the horrors of an unexpected loss of data.

Contrary to what most of the folks from the business world have assumed, the CIO’s job is no longer limited to keeping all systems patched while moving data to the cloud. In case you haven’t heard, the CIOs of today have stepped up their game and have positioned themselves to become strategic business partners.

What Exactly is a Virtual CIO?
All businesses that need help defining their strategic technological direction need a CIO. Aside from the fact that a full-time CIO is hard to come by because of the short supply nationally, small-scale organizations simply can’t afford to hire one.

The good news is, you can outsource this need by obtaining the services of a virtual CIO (vCIO).The vCIO is primarily a contractor or a company that can function as a conventional CIO. The key responsibilities that a vCIO can include coming up with strategic IT goals, planning the IT budget, facilitating technology changes, and analyzing and improving existing business processes.The vCIO role adds much to the organizational strategy by knowing how and when to deploy technology for the benefit of the organization.

In other words, with a vCIO, you can boost your business by aligning technology with your objectives and leverage data to make informed decisions – without having to worry about spending a fortune on a full-time CIO’s salary, benefits, and associated staff.

How Can the Virtual CIO Help Your Business?
Like it or not, technology plays a role in the majority of decisions made by organizations. It will be needed to support a new process. Or, it will be needed to provide analytics on the success of a particular campaign or program. So, every organization needs to have someone that can contribute to the business strategy and understand how the technology can support the initiatives.

In our experience through the years, here are three areas where a vCIO can make an immediate contribution:

  • Budget. Far too many times, clients have come to us with a technology need that is significant but a budget amount that is not based on the reality of making it happen. A vCIO can help establish a realistic budget request that can be submitted to the leadership.

  • Timeline. Similar to budget, a vCIO can help define the scope of a project and set a reasonable timeline and resource commitment.

  • Integration. The Internet has a unique “app” system for any function an organization wants to create. CRM, Online Learning, Email, Event Registration, E-Commerce, etc. But, the more of these an organization utilizes, often times the more disconnected systems are that house important customer data. A vCIO can help make “buy vs build” decisions so that vital customer segmentation options are taken into account prior to launching a new system.

The answer is crystal clear: you’ll need an expert who knows what to do with all the data you have. Someone who has the ability to convert information into valuable business insight. You’ll need a Virtual CIO.