Beyond Tech Support: My Role As A Virtual CIO

As 2023 winds down, it’s a time for both reflection and forward thinking. For over 20 years I have provided project consulting services to a mainly corporate and government clients, interspersed with supporting some small and medium sized businesses along the way. This allowed me to observe with a somewhat unique perspective, the disparities in IT leadership that exists, depending on the size of your organisation and when I realised this, it kind of triggered me to want to try and address these gaps.

It was this realisation that led to the establishment of my virtual CIO service, a venture driven by my passion to help those medium-sized businesses that lacked the same level of technology leadership that larger companies enjoyed, simply because of their size – not their need. In this final edition of Business Bytes for 2023, I want to share my vision and why I believe my vCIO service can make a difference.

My Vision for the Virtual CIO Role

I have always believed that effective IT leadership is not just about technical know-how; it’s about understanding and working out how and where technology sits within the context of the broader business.  It’s about ensuring that the changes technology can bring are made correctly and are the right ones.  It’s about the people and it’s about the business, because after all people are the business. If there has been one major stand-out, one thing only that my experiences with larger organisations have shown me, it is the advantages of having a proper plan for your IT systems and environments – something that I recognised was less accessible to medium-sized businesses. This is the problem that I set out to fill as a vCIO.

Key Service Offerings

As a vCIO for any medium-sized business, there are many ways that my services can improve their technology environment, however there are five key services that I have tried to focus this year on – they are the things I believe most medium sized business need first:

IT Strategic Planning: We all know that technology can change really quickly and having the latest cool toys is something we all crave (think ChatGPT which no one had just 12 months ago) but without a strategy and a roadmap for your IT, how do you know that you’re spending your money in the right place.

Cybersecurity Oversight: It’s not that hard to implement some basic cyber security controls into your business, but knowing what controls you need, whether you are meeting any industry specific compliance requirements, and what data you hold actually should be secured, means you need someone who understands your business, your data, and your systems – and that’s the role of a vCIO.

Project and Change Delivery: Making significant changes to your technology normally means there is some impact to your users (internal or external).  Overseeing the implementation of any projects and technology changes that will have a significant impact on the growth of the business is an important part of being a vCIO and something that I have done for nearly 30 years (and I love it).

Vendor Management: You can call them vendors or managed service providers (MSP’s), or even suppliers, but what you cannot afford to do is let them run untethered with control over your technology.  Managing the relationship between your business and your IT vendors to make sure you are always getting the best value and efficiency and value is an important function of a vCIO.

Introducing Innovation: Unless you don’t mind accepting large amounts of risk, bringing on new and innovative technologies is something that should only be done when you have your IT Strategic Plan in place but trying to understand all the technologies that are out there and how they might benefit your business is daunting.  This is why a vCIO is important – they can identify the latest technologies and work out how you can leverage these to support the growth of your business.

The Benefits I Bring

As an experienced technology leader, I can provide a range of benefits to medium-sized businesses that are looking to get more value from their technology investments:

Strategic Guidance and Oversight: I bring an objective, independent perspective to help develop and execute the right technology strategy for your business goals and priorities. This includes long-term planning as well as assistance with key technology decisions.

Specialised Expertise: With decades of experience across various industries, I have deep knowledge in areas like cybersecurity, project management, cloud technologies, and more. I stay on top of the latest innovations and best practices that might apply to your business.

Cost Savings: Rather than maintaining an internal CIO salary, I provide strategic services on a flexible, as-needed basis. This results in significant cost savings while still getting high-level oversight.

Single Point of Accountability: As your virtual CIO, I can take on the responsibility of managing your entire technology environment and vendors. This reduces the burden on your internal team.

Objective Advice: Whilst I do have vendors and tools that I rate, I don’t have any biases which means you will get transparent guidance focused solely on your business needs.

Improved Risk Management: With CIO-level oversight, I can help assess risks and ensure the right security, compliance, and disaster recovery measures are in place. This can provide peace of mind.

Access to Expertise: You get CIO-calibre skills without needing a full-time executive. And you can leverage my specialised experience that covers a wide range of technologies and disciplines.

Looking Towards 2024

This year has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for a future where I am able to concentrate on delivering strategic IT leadership, something I believe is key to business success, especially for medium-sized enterprises. As a vCIO my aim is to bridge the leadership gap, to bring the strategic benefits of IT to my client’s business.

 As we get ready to step into 2024, I am excited about continuing this journey, offering insights and guidance through my vCIO role, and continuing to provide project consulting through my consulting firm and my project delivery team.

If you’re looking to harness the full potential of technology with experienced and strategic guidance for your business – let’s connect. Together, let’s make 2024 a year of unparalleled technological success and progress. In the meantime, I wish you all an enjoyable, relaxing and safe holiday period, shared with loved ones and energising for what lies ahead.


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