Why Your Small Business Needs a Virtual CIO

In Spider-Man, Homecoming, Tony Stark gifted Peter Parker with a special suit. The advanced suit featured an artificial intelligence system, named Karen. Karen was designed to work alongside and aid Spider-Man in his crime-fighting; enabling a heads-up display, capabilities such as supersonic hearing and x-ray vision, and over 500 combinations of web-shooters.

What if your business had an intelligence like Karen? What if you had a transparent display of data that didn’t require you to look in any direction other than forward? What if you had constant guidance, enabling you to do more than you have the skills to do on your own?

Mid-market to enterprise organisations don’t have Karen, but they do have a Chief Information Officer (CIO). A CIO is the executive responsible for overseeing operational infrastructure, managing risk, and integrating technologies and processes. It’s an ever-evolving, strategic role; focused on driving digital business transformation and organisational growth.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can’t always afford to hire a CIO, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need one. That being said, SMBs can reap the same rewards from hiring a Virtual CIO (vCIO).

Weaving Systems Together

As a provider of technology services, Dynamic seeks to help each of our clients develop a cohesive, sensible, and forward-thinking technological philosophy. Our solutions are results-oriented, tailored to your organisation to help you succeed regardless of extenuating circumstances or unique challenges.

Our virtual CIO service is a continuation of that goal, providing valuable insight and thought leadership for organisations attempting to bridge the gap between being a small business and a large enterprise. After all, this is the point in every organisation’s lifestyle where technology becomes crucial, but also the point at which many organisations choose to neglect a proper tech strategy.

In an enterprise, the goal of the CIO is to improve organisational scalability and agility. While many times their decisions encompass or relate to technology, they concern themselves with decisions that support business growth for months or years to come, anticipating the future and strategising to get ahead.

The 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report found that of nearly 3,000 CIOs across 84 countries, 40% claim to be leaders of digital transformation in their enterprise; managing delivery, talent and executing effective leadership.

Digitalisation has shifted from an “innovative trend” to a “core competency”, with organisations needing to make better use of layered technology platforms to improve internal and outbound processes. A platform approach provides businesses with the foundation to bring resources together, creating more integrated infrastructures to better scale with opportunities and withstand threats.

In other words, CIOs are currently focused on building better digital ecosystems for their enterprises. The 2017 Gartner CIO Agenda Report defines “digital ecosystem” as “an interdependent group sharing standardised digital platforms to achieve a mutually beneficial purpose”. Improving their company’s digital ecosystem poses both an opportunity and challenge for most CIOs, requiring (sometimes significant) changes within technology, organisation and leadership.

CIOs are tackling digital readiness by focusing investments on moving their company’s core technologies forward. They’re also focusing on bridging and filling their company’s talent gaps; with lack of skills and other human resources being the top barrier to success and change (for the second year in a row).

Deloitte’s Tech Trends report echoes the scarcity of technical talent. In fast-paced environments with so many emerging technologies, there’s an unprecedented need for new and different skill sets. This demand for technical skills spans multiple departments – marketing, human resources, finance, etc. CIOs are increasingly taking a holistic, bird’s-eye approach to optimising operations and improving profitability

Making the Most of the Web

The ever-quickening emergence of digital technologies puts nearly limitless technological resources at the fingertips of organisations. More often than not, however, organisations fail to take advantage of these resources, preferring to stick with old and obsolete hardware and processes. This is natural, of course; people are naturally resistant to change, especially change that requires investment. An open mind, however, can yield impressive results.

According to another Deloitte report, only 17% of SMBs have a specialised IT manager to rely on. 70% of SMBs’ digital technology decisions are made by the owner.

Unfortunately, the majority of owners also have to juggle their time across administrative, management, and strategic marketing decisions. A similar report (sponsored by Google Australia) found that roughly 90% of SMBs aren’t taking full advantage of today’s digital tools. Only 9% of Australian SMBs are operating at an advanced level of digital engagement (with only 25% operating at even a basic level)! Imagine how those figures would change if more businesses enlisted the help of a virtual CIO.

As is the case with enterprises, inadequate technical and business skills are the top barrier to making the most of technologies. “Technical” skills represent the technological capabilities required to use different web-based technologies, while “business” skills represent the understanding for how web-based technologies can be used to benefit the business.

For SMB owners who don’t have a good understanding of the technologies available, Google recommends engaging with a “digital mentor”. This mentor should be able to collaborate with you and advise about infrastructure, automation, and improving profitability. And ultimately, this mentor should be able to help you align your IT strategy with your overall strategic plan.

Your Very Own “Karen”

Essentially, a virtual CIO acts as that mentor.

At Dynamic Business Technologies, we know that charting and navigating your technology roadmap is demanding. New upgrades are always on the horizon, making it hard to solve for longevity. Keeping an eye on how your infrastructure and systems are performing can also be overwhelming, especially with everything else on your plate.

When it comes to preparing for the future, lack of access to the information required to adequately plan can compromise your decisions. We understand the limitations of your time and resources, which is why we pride ourselves on being able to provide you with the real-time data you need to focus on moving your business forward.

The goal of our Virtual CIO service is to provide you with C-Level insight into how your IT infrastructure is performing. Reports and statistics are gathered and analysed to give you an overview of your tickets, AV health, server health, and backup reports. We also provide you with professional recommendations to help guide your IT roadmap, discussing new and emerging threats, technologies, and educating you about their relevance to your business.