Look for These Five Qualities in Your Next vCIO

Posted by Timothy Lasonde on Thu, Aug 13, 2020

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By Tim Lasonde

AUG 12, 2020 — As technology continues to fuel the “new normal” of the business world, having a strategic IT resource to guide the business is becoming more critical than ever. For many small- and medium-sized businesses, however, staffing a salaried CIO isn’t a viable option. This need has given rise to a new paradigm in the technology space: the vCIO, or Virtual CIO.

The reality is, staffing a full-time CIO can cost a business upwards of $160K, according to compensation and data experts PayScale–far more than your average small business can afford to spend. A vCIO offers a smart, cost-effective alternative to a full-time, salaried CIO.

As a third-party managed IT services provider, a vCIO takes on the role typically performed by CIOs and other IT leaders to manage your IT network in a streamlined, cost-efficient way while elevating your technology strategy and business productivity. But not all vCIOs are created equal—and knowing what to look for in a provider will help ensure you select a strategic partner that will support business success.

Five traits to look for in a vCIO:

    1. Strategic leadership: Any CIO, whether virtual or in-house, must be able to manage up and communicate with the C-suite and board of directors. Equally as important, they must have the business acumen to align the technology strategy with the long-term business goals as a true strategic partner to the organization.
    2. Industry expertise: vCIOs are not a one-size-fits-all; what’s right for one business may not be right for another. Each industry has its own nuances and requirements (compliance standards, commonly used applications, etc.). Choose a provider with proven expertise in your industry.
    3. IT Skills: Seems obvious—but in this case, it’s worth stating the obvious. Yes, you want a vCIO that is strategic with a strong business sense, but not at the expense of deep knowledge of the ins and outs of modern technology.
    4. Agility: If we’ve learned anything over the last several months, it’s the importance of being able to adapt to change. Your vCIO should be able to make decisions quickly and adapt to the constantly evolving landscape.
    5. Interpersonal skills: Before bringing in a vCIO, make sure the individual(s) meshes with your company culture. Collaboration, personality and people skills are an absolute must in a position of this caliber. It’s not just about the technology; it’s about partnering with others across the organization to ensure the IT strategy supports business growth.

Bringing on a vCIO is one of the most profitable decisions a small business can make—particularly when you select one that is not just a vendor, but rather a strategic partner and key contributor to business success.

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