What is a Virtual CIO and What do They Do?

By Jake Peterson October 7, 2021
graphic: Atiba chief information officer

It can be hard to keep up with the latest news on any subject. We face a constant bombardment of information every day. With social media and messaging apps, what was breaking news thirty minutes ago might be old news by the time we read it. The tech world isn’t much different.

When it comes to keeping up with the changes, updates, and news in the tech world, you need a tech expert in your corner. That’s where a virtual CIO comes in. A virtual CIO (chief information officer) is there to help formulate an IT strategy, bridge your business and tech goals, and make sure all the lights stay on.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss who uses a virtual CIO, what they do, and how they can help your business.

The Role of a Virtual CIO

Technology, historically, has advanced quickly with each passing year. This basic principle can be found in Moore’s Law. The original law was a bit more pinpointed, stating the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubled about every two years. Over time, this law has loosely been applied to tech as a whole. Every year, you can expect tech to grow at a faster rate with new technologies emerging.

The Virtual CIO was born out of necessity when startups and small businesses found themselves behind on tech happenings and novelties. Many times, the vCIO is part of a managed IT services package. Hiring a full-time CIO or tech expert proved to be too costly for many, so the virtual/part-time/there-when-you-need-it CIO came to life.

Additionally, a virtual CIO can step in for other businesses that aren’t startups or small businesses, offering consultation when needed.

Virtual CIOs facilitate business processes, stay up-to-date on market trends, and help align IT and business strategic goals.

So What Exactly Will a Virtual CIO Do?

A virtual CIO can be a part of any IT services package. They could help with any of the following:

  • IT security audits
  • IT infrastructure
  • Cloud management
  • IT consultations
  • IT project cost analysis

At the end of the day, your company will be the one working with the virtual CIO. Their role is quite flexible and can adapt to your business needs as they change and shift.

The Benefits of Virtual CIO Services

virtual cio working

Saves You Money

All hiring managers know how difficult it is to look for and hire talent. Instead of hiring a full-time CIO, vCIO services can provide similar benefits at a fraction of the overall cost. Plus, you won’t have to go through the lengthy onboarding process that comes with bringing in a new hire.

Support When You Need It

Are you looking to migrate to the cloud? Maybe you want to make sure your business is cyber secure? Or do you just have some tech questions that need answering? With a virtual CIO, you have the support you want when you need it. Many businesses offer 24/7 support so you can rest assured knowing you’re taken care of for whatever comes up.

Maximize Your Tech Budget

If you’re a small business or a startup, your budget lines are likely razor-thin and budget planning is a pain. Your vCIO can help you eliminate any waste and tighten your tech budget. That way, you can put more money back into your business while cutting away the fluff. They can help you save in the short term to make your long-term goals more effectively.

Tech Knowledge

It’s always best to trust an expert and having a vCIO means you’ll be privy to all their tech knowledge. With their wealth of experience, they can advise on past happenings while also keeping their eye on the future for any potential developments. That way, you can prepare for what’s ahead instead of trying to play catchup.

Easy to Kickstart IT Projects

No matter what your next IT project is, you’ll have someone in your corner to advise on the best practices and paths to take for your upcoming IT project.

Ideal for Small Businesses and Startups

As a small business owner, you likely have six million things on your mind at any moment of the day. Do you have the time or energy to worry about cybersecurity? That’s where a vCIO can help with strategic planning for your business.

How to Find the Ideal Virtual CIO

how to find virtual cio

They Have Business Acumen

Your virtual CIO needs to be able to align your IT goals with your business goals. This means not only having the necessary tech skill and knowledge but also being able to communicate effectively with members of your organization and potential third-party services.

Project Management Experience

Sometimes, it helps to have someone there to kick things along and keep the ball rolling. Your vCIO should be there to plan projects and make sure they’re executed properly down the line.

They Stick to Your Budget

As we mentioned before, your budget each month may be operating on razor-thin margins. You need someone that’s going to be able to stick to your budget and keep you on the right path.

Flexible and Adaptable

A business plan rarely goes 100% to plan which is why it’s important to adapt and stay flexible. Your vCIO needs to show the same flexibility as you do.

Virtual CIO Disadvantages

Not On-Site

A virtual CIO is just that, virtual. For those looking for an on-site presence, you may not like your CIO being away from the workplace at all times.

May Need to Be Brought Up to Speed

You and your employees know your business better than anyone else. A vCIO is going to have to be brought up to speed, learning everything from employee names to what your business goals are.

A Virtual CIO May Be Right for You

If you’re looking for tech advice or you’re not sure where to get started, a virtual CIO may be the right choice for you. Here at Atiba, we offer virtual CIO services for businesses of all sizes and scopes. No matter what your business needs, we’re here to help. Reach out today to get in touch with us and find out more!


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