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What is a vCIO? | CIO vs vCIO

Nov 30, 2023 | Solutions

In today’s digital world, having someone or something to overlook all of your business’ IT needs has become a necessity. Whether it’s an external managed IT service or internal executive, an IT management role is critical for the success of a company. You might be familiar with the term CIO, as in Chief Information Officer. Similar to a CEO and CFO, a CIO is the overall director of their respective field. In this case, a CIO develops, manages and monitors the information technology needs within an organization. They’re the senior executive working with technology and computer systems, and managing such networks to keep operations running and safeguarded from online threats. However, in some cases, a vCIO could be better suited for your business. “What exactly is the the difference between a CIO and a vCIO?,” you ask?

vCIO 

vCIO stands for Virtual Chief Information Officer, which is a contractor or a company that acts as the senior information technology executive. Taking on this role is something that many managed service providers offer businesses, in order to both meet and maintain their IT needs. A vCIO accomplishes the same tasks as a typical CIO, including creating and executing IT goals, budgeting for IT needs, and maintaining current IT infrastructure. The most apparent difference is that they’re not in-house, and in some cases, despite being “virtual,” some providers will still be able to accommodate onsite appointments should they be necessary or requested.

Computero does provide such Field Services, in addition to being able to offer assistance remotely.

Some of the responsibilities of a vCIO include:

  • Planning future technology needs of the company
  • Budgeting any technological advancements or requirements
  • Advising the company on the best cybersecurity practices 
  • Anticipating technological shifts that might benefit the company
  • Working with the business and its employees to achieve short term and long term goals
  • Providing assistance with technical issues
  • Create, monitor and upkeep IT infrastructures
  • Offers cybersecurity training and simulations to company employees and executives

In a sense, the vCIO position is very interdisciplinary. A vCIO primarily focuses on your company’s technological needs but also has to understand finances, marketing, sales, and business. vCIOs combine business strategies with IT, so that your company can accomplish its goals with the help of technology. They must have good communication skills, an open mind, a strong inclination for problem-solving and be able to work well in a team setting.

vCIO vs. CIO

vCIOs and CIOs operate quite similarly and accomplish similar goals and duties within a business. One of the main differences between a CIO and vCIO, however, is their contract. vCIOs are not staff members of the business and might actually work for multiple clients, not only your company. A CIO, on the other hand, is a company employee, meaning they’ll be a regular salaried member of the staff. That being said, the cost difference of employing a vCIO vs. a CIO is quite substantial. Recruitment is also different. vCIOs are employed by third-party organizations or managed IT service providers. CIOs are typically recruited through normal hiring channels.

Benefits of Having a vCIO

An exceptional vCIO will be up-to-date on the latest trends in the technology world. A typical employee might not understand rapidly evolving tech as well as a vCIO. Having an expert that has a finger on the pulse of their industry makes for an outstanding business development asset. Equipped with that kind of knowledge, they’ll be able to assist your business with making the right decisions now to benefit your company in the future.

High Level of Expertise

vCIOs are highly trained professionals who have a lot of experience in the field. They understand current technology trends and the best ways to utilize technology to your advantage. Their superior proficiency can take your business to the next level. 

Quality Support for a Great Price

With a vCIO, you’ll receive excellent technological support and IT development for an even better price. Having in-house IT staff can get quite costly, especially for smaller businesses and startups, where budgets can be tight. Having good IT should never be neglected, no matter the size, age or budget of your organization. A vCIO could alleviate those with certain financial constraints.

Flexible and Adaptable

Goals or plans may be subject to change; In those scenarios, flexibility and adaptability become paramount. A vCIO will adapt to any shifts in technology and utilize the latest technological developments in order to tailor the best solutions for your business. They know that things are always changing, whether it be within your business or outside of it and that flexibility is crucial.

The Key Differences Between Flexibility and Adaptability in Leadership

“Flexibility and adaptability are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between them. While adaptability is the ability to adjust your situation to suit a new environment, flexibility is the willingness to do so. The more you are willing to change or compromise, the more flexible you are.”

—Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness

Who Can Benefit From a vCIO?

Almost any type or size of business can benefit from hiring a virtual CIO. This position is especially helpful for companies that lack any in-house IT staff. vCIOs offer greater flexibility, efficiency, and expertise that small to mid-sized businesses require to grow. Companies will benefit from a vCIO because they’ll receive the best quality IT services for a fraction of the cost of in-house IT staff.

Why You Should Have a vCIO

There are many benefits to employing a vCIO. This includes a lot of flexibility, cost savings, a high level of expertise, and much more. When companies rely so heavily on technology, some level of IT services and support is essential for business functionality and security. How your business performs and operates doesn’t just matter today—planning ahead is paramount for the sustainability of both your business, as well as your information technology infrastructure. Working with a vCIO can bring your business the certainty it requires to survive and flourish.

“There is one need that is the most common answer to why we do what we do: certainty. We all need to feel certain that we can avoid pain and that, ideally, we can have comfort. The need for certainty is a survival need.”

—Tony Robbins
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