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    Who Needs a CIO

    By: Steve Knutson
    March 22, 2012

    When I speak to a classroom of high school students about technology careers, I inevitably get the same question: So, what does a CIO do? (That’s most often followed – if not preceded by – how much do you make?)

    I’ve found that both questions also are increasingly on the minds of small and mid-size business owners as they strive to make technology work for the organizations.

    Let’s start with the first question. A Chief Information Officer is a member of the executive team who is responsible for developing a strategy that leverages technology to improve business, setting standards and metrics for usage and keeping an eye on the future for new opportunities.

    A CIO is a common position in large companies, but few small and mid-size organizations have the financial resources or ongoing need to support the position. Even if they do, they struggle finding a CIO because of the short supply nationally.

    Making it Accessible
    The rapid evolution of technology in the modern marketplace and the ability to use it to both increase revenue and decrease expenses has small businesses looking for CIO-level expertise.

    That’s where a vCIO comes in. The vCIO concept sprouted a couple years ago to give businesses, with 25 to 250 employees, access to a CIO. Here’s a look at why companies are looking to a vCIO:

    Analyze IT environment.
    For many businesses, the assessment of the work environment, from the hardware and software to the infrastructure and business processes, reveals a series of opportunities to improve the company’s system.

    Use technology strategically.
    Understanding what technology can help a business accomplish a specific business objective and developing a plan allows businesses to create an IT system aligned with the company’s needs and vision. This takes strategy and, often times, a deep technical knowledge of how all the moving parts work – or don’t work – together.

    Increase shareholder value.
    As a member of the executive team at Marco, it’s my job to identify ways to use our information systems to increase shareholder value. When executed well, technology can increase profitability and even generate revenue.

    Know what’s around the corner.
    Looking around corners is an essential vCIO duty. Knowing what’s next and being able to analyze the impact these changes could have helps a company invest in the right technology at the right time.

    Businesses can choose to use a vCIO for a limited period of time to help set a strategy aligned with their business goals or set up a monthly contract for ongoing expertise. In some cases, the vCIO functions are bundled with a Managed Services package to provide businesses a complete IT resource.

    Whether virtual or not, a CIO focuses on understanding business operations, offers options to foster growth and challenges the business to think differently about how it operates.

    As published at 

    Topics: CIO
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