Leading managed services providers (MSPs) offer IT advisory services and strategic planning to their clients through a Virtual Chief Information Information Officer (vCIO).
Working with a vCIO can be very beneficial for small to medium sized businesses, as the advice they provide influences educated IT decisions while helping to improve your technology strategy.
But what is a vCIO and what do they do? In this article, we will take a closer look at what a good vCIO does and the benefits they provide for businesses.
The Role of a Virtual CIO Explained
In larger organizations, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the top executive in charge of technology strategy execution. The CIO works closely with key decision makers to make strategic decisions about IT to improve business operation for long term success.
Unfortunately, most growing small businesses can’t afford to have a full time dedicated CIO on staff. That’s where a vCIO comes in.
A vCIO is a Virtual Chief Information Officer. Many MSPs provide their clients with cost effective technology strategy development and advice on a fractional basis through the vCIO process.
The vCIO works with the client’s leadership team to gain an understanding of business strategy, growth plans, and budgetary needs. The vCIO then works with the client to help them leverage technology in various ways, including:
- Improving customer service
- Employee productivity improvements
- Ensuring resilient business operation
- Cybersecurity posture enhancements
vCIOs will also look after all of a business’s different dimensions of technology, including:
- Software solutions
- Network infrastructure
- SaaS and cloud services
- Remote work enablement
- Computer and server hardware
- Communications and telephony
- And more
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vCIO and Strategic Advice: Securing Remote Work
The COVID-19 pandemic was a transformative moment. It ushered in a new era of remote work. The team at NENS has been working over the past few years to not only enable remote work for our clients, but to raise the bar on cybersecurity as well. Companies of all sizes need to empower anytime, anywhere work without compromises around security. Therefore, NENS recommends a host of additional technologies for secure remote work. Let’s name just a few.
First, multi-factor authentication (MFA) is mandatory for every NENS client and their users. MFA requires employees to authenticate with both a password (something they know) and a one-time passcode from an app on their previously registered mobile device (something they have). MFA defends against the problems of password re-use and credential theft by cyber criminals. NENS also invests in enterprise-grade Cisco Meraki teleworker firewalls, which raise the bar on cybersecurity in the employee home office. And lastly, NENS implements Cisco Umbrella DNS security for all workers and remote end points, enabling content filtering, cloud application visibility, and defense against various forms of web-based attacks.
Navigating Strategic IT Challenges
vCIOs deliver the most value by helping clients overcome the biggest IT challenges. Budgeting and strategic planning are often overlooked by budget-constrained organizations.
In order to guarantee peak technology performance, ongoing proactive maintenance and lifecycle management is an absolute necessity.
Unfortunately, many companies tend to neglect their IT roadmap, allowing their computer equipment and network infrastructure to grow long in the tooth.
In these scenarios, critical IT hardware will either fall out of warranty or be run well past its effective life span. This results in hardware failure, lost employee productivity, and extended downtime.
A virtual CIO solves this problem by proactively managing a client’s technology lifecycle by developing and implementing a well-defined technology strategy, budget, and roadmap.
The vCIO will provide a clear, quarterly technology investment plan which will upgrade aging equipment at the right time, while ensuring existing equipment and infrastructure is proactively patched, maintained, managed, and under warranty.
With a sound technology roadmap and budget, challenges around obsolescence and hardware failures are mitigated or eliminated altogether. As a result, budgetary surprises quickly become a thing of the past.
Improving Cybersecurity and Compliance Strategies
Cybersecurity should be a big concern for organizations of all sizes, as cyber criminals are constantly devising new ways to exploit companies and their employees.
The good news is that cybersecurity is another area where a virtual CIO can provide strategic advice and help clients make prudent investments in new technologies that improve business processes and cybersecurity posturing.
Ensuring compliance with various industry regulations and laws often requires increased investment in cybersecurity technologies and controls. A good vCIO can help management sort out the compliance complexities and develop action plans and roadmaps for compliant business operation.
How a Virtual CIO Assists With the PBR Process
Virtual Chief Information Officer services often include a periodic business review (PBR) and strategic project analysis.
PBRs are regular meetings where progress around technology management is reviewed and discussed. During these meetings, the vCIO will revisit the multi-quarter technology budget and roadmap.
Additionally, PBRs are opportunities to course correct, attack new challenges, and discuss emerging business process and technology issues. Guided by the virtual CIO, a healthy PBR process requires client engagement while ensuring that roadmap items get underway on time and on budget.
This process often surfaces new realities, where critical technology investments or upgrades can accelerate the business strategy and operations of the client are proposed and discussed.
What is a vCIO and How Can My Business Benefit From One?
Find out by partnering with NENS for trustworthy virtual CIO services.
What is a vCIO? Find Out With NENS
Critical decisions about IT are often a leap of faith for small businesses. Having access to a trusted technology partner ensures that they won’t have to take that leap alone.
Working with a virtual CIO can be both cost effective and beneficial. vCIOs have the necessary knowledge and expertise that can improve business operation and performance through the creation of a comprehensive long term technology strategy and roadmap. It also allows for savings on the cost of hiring a full time CIO.
NENS is proud to have some of the best vCIOs in the industry on staff. We believe passionately in the value of the vCIO process to advise and guide clients and their organizations.
If you’re still wondering what is a vCIO and how partnering with one can help your business succeed, contact us today for more information.