A lot of managed service providers are offering virtual CIO services to their clients, and this has become somewhat of a trend. You can find all sorts of articles on the internet that tell you what a virtual CIO is, but there isn’t a lot of information about what they do. This is probably because their duties can include a wide range of tasks. Therefore, it is hard to pin down a specific list of things that a vCIO is supposed to do. That being said, there are certain universal responsibilities that all virtual CIOs must fulfill. Let’s jump into answering the question, “What does a vCIO do?”
- vCIO Role: A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is an independent contractor who provides expert IT guidance when needed, acting as a mediator between your company and your managed service provider (MSP).
- Expert Advice: vCIOs offer unbiased advice, optimizing your network and saving costs.
- Security Focus: They monitor and enhance network security to safeguard your systems from threats.
- Employee Education: vCIOs educate your staff on cybersecurity, reducing the risk of social engineering hacks and improving security awareness.
- Cost-Efficiency: They can replace expensive external consultants, providing practical and cost-effective advice tailored to your company.
What Is A Virtual CIO?
A CIO is a Chief Information Officer and is one of the more important members of a corporate governance structure. As the name implies, they are in charge of all info and tech-related matters. This will include both fieldwork and collaborative work, from re-wiring the servers to keeping in touch with the MSP and facilitating a closer relationship.
Rather than having a pre-set list of duties and responsibilities, the CIO is an on-staff expert whose services are deployed wherever and whenever they are needed. With that being the case, it is natural that some people have sought to outsource this job to independent contractors. In the end, that’s basically what a vCIO is: A Chief Information Officer who serves on an as-needed basis. They are technically considered to be independent contractors rather than employees of your company.
Collaboration With The MSP
Since your virtual CIO works for your managed services provider, they can act as a “go-between.” That is to say; they can facilitate good relations between the two companies by mediating between them. This is good for the MSP because they can customize their services more effectively for different types of businesses. It’s also good for your company because it makes for a more stable relationship with a business partner.
This is important because you want your MSP to consider you as a valued customer. This will give you priority over others and make it far easier to resolve any problems that may arise. For instance, if you need to renegotiate your account (or its rates), a virtual CIO can be extremely valuable. Chances are, he can give you a fair idea of what the MSP will agree to and what they won’t. He can also point you towards any company policies that might help or hinder your efforts.
Expert Consultation And Advice
Whenever you have an IT problem, a qualified person will be needed to assess that problem and provide solutions. Unfortunately, the right people may or may not be available, and that’s where the services of a virtual CIO can be indispensable. As a neutral outsider, they are far less likely to become embroiled in personal politics, which means they can be relied upon for sound and unbiased advice.
In many cases, this consultation provides a lot more than just advice. A virtual CIO can probably help you to optimize your network and hardware in all kinds of ways. In the end, this can save you a lot of money. Based on their extensive tech knowledge, they can often recommend cheaper alternatives to various tasks. Efficiency, whether in terms of time or money, will always translate into higher profits. This might be the main way in which a virtual CIO earns their keep.
If your virtual CIO isn’t needed for other tasks, they might spend a lot of their time ensuring the security of the company’s network. Even though that is not the primary responsibility of a CIO, he is the person who is best-equipped to do the job. In many ways, cybersecurity is a game between hackers and cybersecurity professionals. Both of them are highly knowledgeable, and each is always trying to outsmart the other one.
Because of this dynamic, it is important to put your most knowledgeable tech person on the task of network security monitoring. They will be better able to see anything suspicious and act upon it (if necessary). This might include routine packet monitoring, but that might be a waste of your vCIO’s talents. More often, they will be making the rounds of important security positions and making sure that everything is well in hand. In terms of security, the vCIO is like the captain of the ship, and the entire IT apparatus of your company is the ship itself.
Since a vCIO needs to keep an eye on the security of the network, it makes sense that they should work to optimize it at the same time. There are many ways in which this can be done, but all of these methods are intended to increase the speed and efficiency of the network. This benefit trickles down to every single employee that is using that network in the form of shorter loading times and fewer complications.
This kind of thing can increase your profits in multiple ways. For one thing, as we already mentioned, it leads to a greater level of productivity among your workers. Because most (if not all) of your employees are using the internet for their work, this benefit will be seen across the board. On another level, a vCIO can help you save money by reducing network downtime.
Network downtime is easily one of the most expensive IT problems you can have. It can put you out of whole days (or even weeks) of business. To give you an idea of how this can affect a large company: It is estimated that a single hour of downtime will cost about $5,600 (on average). That comes out to about $300,000 per hour, which equals about 7,200,000 per day. Obviously, small businesses won’t see those kinds of horrific losses, but they are still going to be pretty significant. A vCIO can do a lot to keep your network running smoothly by constantly looking for problems.
Although you don’t need every employee to be a tech expert, you do want people to understand the tools with which they are working. Let’s compare it to something more mundane, like owning a car. Most people do not need to be mechanics, but every car owner should at least understand the principles of basic maintenance. The same mentality applies when it comes to IT. Everyone needs to have enough knowledge to use the tech effectively, and most of the benefits are seen in terms of productivity and security.
When it comes to productivity, it is obvious how knowledge can help. When a person has a better command of the computer, they will be able to get more done. They won’t have to waste time figuring out the solutions to common problems, and they won’t have to go running to anyone for advice. When it comes to security, this knowledge is necessary because of a little thing called social engineer hacking.
Basically, hackers will use an unwary employee as a dupe, tricking them into giving up permissions or passwords. They do this by using a variety of fakes…fake emails, fake test messages, etc. Most cyber-attacks start with an employee foolishly clicking a suspicious link in an email. So, how does your vCIO help with this? Well, you can put on all kinds of security teaching sessions. These can be promoted as fun events for the whole family but will include teaching sessions on the subject of proper precautions. So, who will be leading the sessions and offering the bulk of the lessons? Why, your vCIO, of course!
Save The Company Money On Outside Consultants
There are many times in which companies feel compelled to hire outside experts. These people will normally be paid to do an investigation and an assessment, and this can be a very effective way of identifying problems or solving those that are already known. However, these people don’t tend to work cheap. Some of them have gone to school for many years to get their credentials, and they want to get a high price for their services.
When you employ a vCIO, you can allow them to replace many of these outside consultants. Chances are, you will end up paying a lot less for their services. At the same time, the vCIO can probably do a better job than the outside consultants anyway. They will be much more familiar with the specific circumstances of your company. As such, they will be able to offer a lot more than generalized advice. A vCIO in this position will be more likely to offer actionable advice. By that, we mean advice that actually does some practical good.
Keeps Everything Up To Date
Technology changes at a rapid pace, and most people do not have the time or the inclination to keep up with all of these changes. However, companies may have thousands or even millions of dollars on the line with their IT infrastructure. As such, there needs to be a dedicated professional who can keep up with all the latest trends and keep the company current. Your vCIO should be well-qualified to serve in that role.
Many hacks have occurred just because someone failed to update a particular piece of software. Security patches come out very frequently, and hackers will tend to keep up with that news. When a new security patch comes out, they know they have to work quickly before everyone downloads and installs the new patch. Thus, they will likely ramp up their activities when they hear of a new patch being released. That’s why it is crucial to have someone that will act fast to update your system and take you off the “easy target” list.
Reporting And Metrics
In order to make good decisions, a company needs accurate data. Inaccurate information leads to poor decision-making, and that’s an area where many companies have problems. For instance, employees or executives will sometimes refrain from mentioning the existence of a serious problem. Why? Because they don’t want to be held responsible for that problem. A vCIO probably has no such bias, considering that they are an independent contractor in the first place.
It will be part of your vCIO’s job to provide detailed and updated metrics regarding the state of the company’s IT situation. These should include metrics for both performance and security. A few things that might be measured and tracked by your vCIO:
- Amount of network uptime/downtime
- Security compliance
- Total tech expenses (per month or per year)
- General IT worker productivity
- Overall system redundancy
- Network speed, latency, and loading times
We hope that the above has given you a better idea as to how a virtual CIO spends their days. Their duties include many things and cover a lot of ground. That said, we have tried to give you the basics as best we can. In general, their job is to take charge of IT matters and integrate everything into an effective plan. If our article has given you some good ideas for doing the same, we invite you to fill out the contact form.