An experienced and capable Chief Information Officer (CIO) needs to work with the business side of your company to set the Information Technology (IT) agenda and ensure that business imperatives drive the IT infrastructure, not the other way around. But not all businesses can afford such skill as a part of the in-house leadership, so many companies are now turning to “virtual” CIO’s to meet the need.
Virtually everything is virtualized these days (pun intended). Businesses today are challenged on many fronts, but one that can be mysterious and troubling is IT. Not only are there many solutions to choose from, but the regulatory landscape can be a minefield of trouble. Yet IT needs to be more than a “necessary evil”…it needs to be a strategic advantage for your business.
More than likely you are not in the business of providing IT services, but rather manufacturing, retailing, distribution, finance, medicine, etc. Your focus should be on being the best in your field for your clients. But in today’s connected and online world, IT is a part of your business – period. So you have two choices – spend the resources to develop an IT business within your main business, or acquire those skills and services from a service provider.
If you choose to acquire IT services from an IT Solutions Provider, you still have a challenge. Your IT Solutions provider has a whole garage full of tools to help you, but if you don’t understand those tools, choosing the right ones can still be elusive. Enter your vCIO. An IT Solutions firm like Intrinium can provide consultative services that go far beyond just selling services. A vCIO can spend the time necessary to learn your business needs, and ensure that the solutions being provided support your business.
IT needs to be driven first by your business objectives, translated into an IT Strategy. The strategy, along with your business and regulatory requirements, will drive an IT Policy which forms the basis of your Information Security Plan. Regardless of your position on the maturity timeline, the key is you need a robust, documented Information Security plan to ensure you are keeping you and your customer’s private information protected. That plan needs to be supportive of your business goals, not the other way around where IT goals drive your business. A vCIO will assist by assessing where you are today, and guiding you through the development of a policy and a plan to ensure you are obtaining the right set of tools for your needs. The vCIO can also be a long-term strategic partner that drives implementation and then steady-state execution of your plan.
It can be fun to go into a professional mechanic’s garage and see all the tools. You probably even have experience using some of them, but there are likely others you have never seen before and have no idea how they are used. It can be the same way with IT services. But just as the trained and experienced mechanic knows how to select the right tool to make every job easier, so to a trained and experienced vCIO can be invaluable in guiding your selection and use of various IT tools to keep your business running smoothly.