Does my business need a CIO?
The benefits of working with a technical strategist in your business – even if you’re not Pepsico!
First of all, what is a technical strategist? A technical strategist is someone with a deep understanding of IT but also of business who can work with an organization to help mold and facilitate the organization’s goals for the future. This role is often fulfilled by a Chief Information Officer (CIO), when there is such a position within the organization, but it can also be fulfilled through consulting arrangements – a CIO-for-hire, so to speak.
CIO Then vs Now
CIOs can be purely functional. Referred to as “keeping the lights on,” CIOs are often in charge of making sure:
- Data centers are up and running
- IT staff is trained and performing well
- IT projects stay on task and within budget
However, this is an old model for the CIO that is very narrowly focused. In today’s technology-centered society, it’s more beneficial for a CIO to be strategic, even transformative.
Managing Partner Anne Pyle explains why with her own experience.
When I was CIO for an enterprise of significant size, “keeping the lights on” was not my primary focus. Although I was responsible for the data centers, staff and projects, my personal focus was on strategy – planning for the future, understanding what the organization’s goals were and designing the appropriate technology to facilitate the achievement of those goals. I was looking for innovative ways to fix organizational problems but also to help create a vision with my compadres in the C-Suite, using technology to advance the organization.
What’s that have to do with a small-to-medium-sized business (SMB)?
Customers of SMBs expect a certain level of sophistication from the companies they do business with – whether it’s business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). Technology drives business – now more than ever – and this fact will not only continue but will accelerate in the future.
The role of the vCIO
If you can’t afford a CIO, consider a vCIO. A “virtual” CIO has the depth of experience and knowledge to guide a business through the decisions that need to be made in determining what technology supports the mission and strategic goals, as well as how to acquire and implement them. A good vCIO knows how to improve both processes and data, which assists with operations, but also how to think into the future and success of your business.