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IT Strategy - Fighting your way to the top with a Virtual CIO

Posted by Sean Kline

martial arts VCIOIn many ways, martial arts can be an appropriate metaphor for running a business. For example, there are probably hundreds of thousands of entry-level martial arts studios available for beginning students. It doesn’t really matter what martial art you decide to study, only that you get started and learn whether the art is right for you. However, as you grow in ability and dedication, you find that your needs sharpen and you need a higher level of expertise to guide you along the right path. You need a master.

So it is with a growing business. At the beginning, the IT decisions you make are just there to move you forward. You can be the President, the CEO, the COO and the CIO all wrapped into one person. But growth brings more difficult challenges and harder tests and suddenly you find yourself spending all night researching the benefits of virtualization or which ERP system is best for you. You are casting about without the guidance of a master -an experienced CIO. Not only do you stand the very real risk of making the wrong decision, but you’re investing way too much of your time re-inventing the wheel (or recreating a martial discipline, to continue the metaphor).

This is why I recommend to every business that they invest in an experienced CIO. The world of Information Technology is a confusing place, and perhaps more so than any other area of specialty, the riskiest one to make uninformed decisions. Hiring an experienced CIO is a critical step for any business as it grows, and often having experienced technical guidance with your specific needs in mind is an edge that will set you apart from your competition. An experienced CIO will know what the right answers to your technology questions are – and perhaps even more importantly, he/she will know the questions to ask that you haven’t even begun to contemplate.

I also recognize that good CIOs are not exactly just laying around, waiting to be hired (nor are they particularly inexpensive). Managed IT Services firms, however, have a solution for you: The Virtual CIO.

The vCIO assesses the clients environment against best practices and then objectively describes any high risk activities or pieces of infrastructure and those which are in good shape. From there, clients know what risks and opportunities they have, and coupled with the expertise of their vCIO, can make educated decisions on direction. Then they allow their vCIO to hammer out the details afterward.

As in the martial arts, you can only go so far without the right help. At some point you are going to have to find the services of a master for guidance. Fortunately, you have options that go beyond the traditional, and still put you in a position to stand with your hand raised at the end of the day.

Key Takeaways:

  • As your business grows, you need skilled experts to help you navigate IT business decisions
  • Finding and hiring an experienced CIO can be a time-consuming and expensive process, but there are other options
  • A virtual CIO (vCIO) can be a collaborative and cost-effective member of your team

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Topics: Small Business IT Resources, VCIO, virtual CIO, IT Strategy