January 12, 2024
Most organizations would benefit immensely from having a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) on staff. These positions are uniquely situated to speak with business executives as well as senior IT leadership to align strategic planning, reduce risk, reduce IT costs, and help grow the business.
One teeny problem, though. Those advanced skills and years of industry experience typically come with a salary that can easily set you back over $250,000 a year, plus benefits. And even if you can afford that, other companies will frequently try to outbid you.
Fortunately, Marco offers CIO and CISO consulting services, as well as specialized IT help for significant IT projects! And if you didn’t know that, you’re not alone. So let me take this opportunity to walk you through these services in more detail.
What Is IT Consulting?
In a nutshell, IT consulting is the practice of advising organizations on how best to use technology to meet their business objectives and protect their assets.
IT roles are constantly evolving. But common consulting focuses include the following:
- Enterprise resource planning
- Systems integration
- Data analytics
- IT security
- Software management
When Do You Need IT Consulting?
While advanced IT capabilities are always nice to have, here are just a few scenarios where these specialized skills are less of a want and more of a need.
1. You Need a Significant Technology Upgrade
If you’re thinking of migrating to the cloud or adding automation to core business processes, a consultant with CIO skills can help guide you to the best solution and come up with an implementation plan to reduce unnecessary disruption.
2. You'd Like a Technology Roadmap
A consultant can help you map out your IT strategy for the future to help you align your technology with your larger business goals. Bonus: A comprehensive technology roadmap can also help you reduce risk and plan your budget.
A fractional or “virtual” CIO can absolutely help you accomplish this, and similarly, a virtual CISO can help your organization prioritize strategic cybersecurity improvements. If either of these are your only need, however, you might want to check out our technology assessments. These assessments are comprehensive and include a five-year technology roadmap with an executive presentation of our findings.
3. Mergers & Acquisitions Are Part of Your Growth Strategy
Think fast — what’s one of the most overlooked reasons mergers and acquisitions fail? Companies forget about integrating their technology. Yes, sometimes integrating technology can be complicated, but without a smart strategy to make sure this happens on schedule, analytics capabilities, communication, and data security can suffer. It’s hard enough to integrate culture and processes without suddenly losing visibility into your technology ecosystem and end-user behavior.
If your organization doesn’t have a CIO, and a period of high growth is on the horizon — including potential mergers or acquisitions — adding those CIO skills to your team should be a priority.
And then there’s this: When you acquire an organization, you also acquire all of its risks. As you merge your assets, an experienced CISO can help you protect them.
4. You Want To Change Your Products or Services
Maybe you’d like to be able to serve customers faster, either through an online portal or an app. Or maybe you’d like to offer a new product that could require new database capabilities, different vendor partnerships, or an expansion of existing tech infrastructure. These are all good use cases for bringing on an IT consultant to help you avoid costly mistakes and make sure your teams have what they need to be successful.
5. You Need To Fill a Big Gap in Your IT Department
Highly experienced CIOs and CISOs are in high demand, and cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a highly specialized skill. An IT consultant can fill in as you recruit full-time staff and reduce the stress on the rest of your IT team during the transition.
Other Common Virtual IT Consulting FAQs
Have a few lingering questions about IT consulting? I’ll address a few I hear frequently, and I may add a few more down the road.
Is a Virtual CIO the Same Thing as a Fractional CIO?
These terms are related, and they’re often used interchangeably. But there’s a good reason why many modern managed service providers tend to prefer the more modern term “fractional,” and it’s not just because we enjoy making up new jargon. It’s because of how these consultants get paid.
Back in the day, many providers used the term “virtual CIO” to refer to IT consultants who were on staff to advise clients on what they should buy and where their dollars would have the most impact. Yes, this is absolutely part of what a CIO or CISO should do, but they should not function as glorified salespeople for businesses like ours. We’d like to assume that no virtual CIOs or CISOs acted that way, but their pay structure probably muddied the water.
The “fractional” terminology is borrowed from the concept of fractional jet ownership, where participants can pay just a fraction of the cost of ownership for access to a private jet as needed. Doesn’t that sound nice? Anyway, that’s how fractional CIOs and CISOs at Marco work — you pay for their time and expertise, and they’re free to basically take you where you’d like to go, even if that means recommending solutions we don’t sell.
Should I Outsource for CIO/CISO Skills or Hire?
You might not always have a choice in the matter, but if you do, here’s an overview of when you should hire and when you should outsource.
Why Should I Get These Services From Marco?
Fair question! And I do have an answer I think you’re going to like. Even when you outsource, specialized skills can be expensive. So, the clients who are most likely to need these services for a longer term — like a year or more — may still struggle to get the leadership they need.
As one of the largest technology providers in the US, we’re in a much better position to be able to retain world-class IT talent, and we can offer a better deal than you’re likely to find elsewhere. So when you make a 12-month commitment to a fractional CIO or CISO from Marco, we offer you a preferred rate, which we will also apply to any other IT consulting needs you may have.