In today’s fast-moving world, information technology (IT) is not an optional investment: it is the foundation for workplace productivity, and the channel through which customers and clients interact with your business. But with cybercrime on the rise and major upheavals in the tech landscape, the risks of a poorly managed IT strategy are rising – with it, so is the cost of maintaining your IT infrastructure.
vCIOs to the Rescue
According to recent reports, 53% of businesses have increased their IT investment since 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic, with 78% of small business leaders stating that IT is a top investment priority for them in 2022. With rising costs and increased challenges, your business needs a high-level, experienced professional who can guide your IT strategy while maximizing efficiency, cost savings and long-term resilience – but who can you call?
In a recent blog post, we argued that a good virtual chief information officer (vCIO) is one of the most valuable, outsourced technology partners your business can have. Not only are they expert consultants who serve the same function as a full-time CIO – they are problem solvers, trusted business partners, perfectionists and long-term strategists who align IT with your business objectives.
But just what does that mean in terms of concrete business results? In the remainder of this blog, we’ll answer that question with five major benefits of having a vCIO on your team.
1. Time Savings
An experienced vCIO is continually improving the business process for greater efficiencies, and this can lead to significant time savings: hours can be shaved off a single task using better techniques, software and automation strategies. While identifying these improvements in a vacuum can be difficult, a vCIO brings them to light through metrics and past experience.
A vCIO can also save time by handling certain tasks directly, like negotiating your company’s relationship with vendors and other IT partners, planning your IT budget and supervising major projects that require a high level of planning and detail. In most cases, they will also be able to do these tasks more effectively than non-experts in your organization, leading to overall improvements on top of time savings.
2. Cost Savings
It’s obvious that time savings translate to cost savings – but vCIOs can also save you money by eliminating unnecessary costs. For instance, you may be considering an expensive solution when there is a more affordable option, or a way to repurpose existing solutions: by accounting for these factors in your IT strategy, a vCIO can optimize for the most cost-effective approach to any problem.
Conversely, a vCIO can tell you when a “cost-cutting” measure is actually costing your business more in the long run – for instance, when your technology stack falls behind industry standards, leading to reduced performance, competitiveness and productivity. This phenomenon is called “technical debt,” and according to McKinsey, it costs large organizations hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
Finally, nearly half of small businesses didn’t have a budget in 2021, let alone an IT budget. By planning and budgeting your IT spending with the future in mind, vCIOs not only reduce your IT expenditure in the short term but align IT spending with business goals for maximum cost savings in the long term.
3. Better Resilience
“Business resilience” is a measure of your organization’s ability to adapt and survive in the face of disruptions, whether they originate from the marketplace or changing technology landscape. In 2020, non-resilient businesses were caught off guard by the COVID pandemic which increased remote employment – resilient ones quickly adapted with the help of remote collaboration software.
vCIOs improve your business resilience by proactively finding use cases for emerging technology and preventing your business from falling behind disruptive trends. They also ensure that aging or deprecated systems are updated or replaced whenever necessary, keeping your business on a constant track to modernization, and avoiding reduced performance.
Today it is especially important for businesses to have a disaster response and recovery plan – by maintaining a list of procedures for worst-case scenarios and keeping your data safely backed up, a vCIO can help your business to recover in the event of a ransomware or phishing attack which could otherwise bring mission-critical operations to a halt.
4. Stronger Security
When it comes to cybersecurity, vCIOs can do more than plan for the worst: they can also maintain an inventory of your IT assets, identifying weak points in your company’s infrastructure that represent likely targets for malicious cyber actors. By hardening your internal and public-facing networks with an emphasis on the most vulnerable targets, they can protect your company’s sensitive data and assets from compromise.
vCIOs can also vet your IT vendors to ensure that they prioritize security in their products and services. Rampant vulnerabilities in Internet of Things (IoT) products are partially attributable to negligent design from vendors who prioritize profits over safety; by eliminating low-quality vendors and communicating your security policies to technology partners, vCIOs can ensure that they are implemented throughout your organization with every new project.
5. Increased Revenue
While increased revenue and bottom-line improvements are indirect side effects of all the benefits mentioned above, they are also the direct result of increased efficiency and an IT strategy that is better aligned with your business goals. Better tools can result in significantly better outcomes – for example, a Forrester study found that use of collaboration tools correlated with a 10% increase in productivity across multiple organizations.
Ultimately, by continually monitoring your IT infrastructure to find and eliminate inefficiencies and guiding decisions based on considerations unique to your business, vCIOs can boost an arbitrary number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that directly correlate with revenue, including sales, employee engagement, productivity, and turnover reduction.
Leveling the Playing Field
Competing against large enterprises with an internal IT team can be tough, especially for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Fortunately, vCIOs have leveled the playing field, providing enterprise-level IT expertise to businesses of any size without the cost of bringing on a full-time executive. Given the many challenges that businesses are facing in 2022, the best time to hire a vCIO was yesterday – but the second-best time is today.
MainSpring is your go-to for IT strategy and support. Our award-winning managed services are handled by a diverse team of experts on the cutting edge of business technology, with decades of combined experience serving small-to-medium sized businesses. We adopt a proactive mindset to every customer, taking ownership of your results and working diligently to exceed your business needs. To learn more, contact us today.