Bringing in external help to complement the existing leadership team is a practice common amongst successful small and mid-sized businesses. It enables them to address issues outside of their core competence and make transformational steps quickly without adding headcount. Virtual Execs in the areas of Finance, HR and Business Development have become a familiar part of UK businesses, and over recent years we have seen a significant increase in the use of Virtual Chief Information Officers (CIOs) with the specific aim of turning operational IT consultancy into strategic business value.

The Strategic Value of IT

IT should not be considered merely as infrastructure; it should be viewed as a strategic enabler that can deliver a real competitive advantage. Leverage the technologies available in the right way, and you will increase the productivity of every member of staff, remove barriers to growth and drive overall efficiency, effectiveness and profitability.

It is vital that organisations think strategically about IT and align their technology roadmap to the goals and aspirations of the business.

The Role of the CIO

A challenge for small and mid-sized businesses is bridging the gap between business strategy and operational IT. For IT deployment to be truly effective, it needs a seat on the board. Your IT needs to understand the business direction, be aware of the pressure points and to align the solutions and services being delivered with the current and future needs of the business.

This is the role of the CIO. Someone who is equally as comfortable talking business as they are talking technical detail; someone who can grasp a business vision and turn it into operational reality; someone who understands the business direction and can take tactical, incremental steps to get to a strategic destination.

Injecting Virtual ExpertiseGood CIOs are not cheap and bringing one on board full-time CIO is a significant investment for any business. This is why the Virtual CIO is becoming more and more attractive. It enables organisations to get that injection of expertise and to bridge the gap between business direction and IT delivery without having to commit to the expense of additional senior headcount.

There are two fundamental factors that are making Virtual CIOs an attractive option and these fall broadly into the categories of cost and value.

The consumption model of the Virtual CIO is ideal. There will always be times of significant change where you need more intense management of change and other times where you are just looking for ongoing direction and alignment. The Virtual CIO model gives this ability to flex up and down your investment based on your current needs.

The ability to gain an external perspective in itself brings significant value. Virtual CIOs operate across multiple companies and, as such, gain a far broader understanding of what is possible and what can be achieved. Although a good Virtual CIO will become an integral part of your business, there is always the added benefit of them taking an external, pragmatic approach and resisting the trap of going native.

Technology is changing and advancing at a pace that we have never experienced before. Many markets are feeling the impact of this with disruption coming from digitally-led challengers who are upsetting the status quo. It is not surprising then that smart businesses are recognising the criticality of IT and embracing the Virtual CIO concept as a way of differentiating their business.

Conosco’s Virtual CIOs are helping our clients to align IT with the needs and goals of the business. You can find out more about our Virtual CIO service by visiting our IT Consulting Page. If you would like to discuss your specific requirements, please reach out to us through our contact us page or by calling 0345 838 7680.