Just What is a vCIO Anyways? Four Answers from Our IT Professionals
Today, small businesses and large enterprises alike need outsourced IT providers to manage the delivery of mission-critical services like networking, infrastructure, and security at an affordable cost.
At MainSpring, we hold ourselves to a high bar, constantly seeking new ways to reduce costs for our clients, raise their bottom line and boost their resilience against a rapidly changing world of IT trends. To that end, virtual chief information officers (vCIOs) are one of our greatest assets.
But just what is a vCIO, and what do they do? The technical answer is simple – vCIOs are expert consultants, who serve the same function as a full-time CIO. They guide a company’s decisions in a vendor-agnostic way, based on a combination of technological and business considerations.
Like so many definitions, however, this leaves out quite a lot. To help fill in the gaps, we asked four team members for their definition of a vCIO, and here is what they said.
Question: What is a vCIO?
Joshua Brechbuehl has been serving as a vCIO with MainSpring since 2021, after serving as Senior IT Director for a Frederick construction company. As a former Senior Microsoft Cloud Consultant, Josh brings more than 20 years of IT experience to the MainSpring team.
“If I were going to sum up vCIOs in a sentence, I would call them creative problem solvers. A little while ago, one of my clients was getting ready to replace a multi-million dollar piece of equipment which had been out of commission for three years. After bringing in an engineer, we were able to get it up and running in three days. More recently, we were able to eliminate a $40k HVAC quote by getting a client to transfer a lot of their network operations to the cloud.”
“Ultimately, a vCIO is looking for the source of an organization’s problems – not just the symptom – whether that’s outdated equipment, lack of modernization, or something else. By approaching our clients holistically, we are able to reduce their expenses and increase efficiency for the long term.”
Jolene Read joined the MainSpring team as a vCIO in 2021, after working for a leading managed service provider in Massachusetts. There, she helped organizations with IT strategy and consulting, bringing her experience from the field of behavioral health.
“As a vCIO, you are a lifesaver and trusted business partner. Not long ago I was brought on by a client whose in-house IT director had recently left. Everything was up in the air – they didn’t know what systems they had, or how their technology was structured. After meeting for a month and getting feedback, we took full control of their infrastructure, working on vendor contracts, website development, vendor recommendations, etc. My contact was very appreciative and told me ‘thanks for letting us throw the kitchen sink at you’.”
“That simple phrase left a big impression on me. At the end of the day, a vCIO is someone you can throw the kitchen sink at when your IT infrastructure is overwhelming. We create a positive impact by putting client satisfaction first, creating order from chaos, and building user-friendliness into our solutions.”
Jeremy Kaikko is a MainSpring old hat: joining the company in 2000, he spent the next 10 years working directly with clients and managing technical consultants before transitioning to the vCIO role. With experience as an IT consultant and business leader, clients value his expertise and insights.
“In lieu of a better word, I think of vCIOs as perfectionists and fine-tuners. A few years back, I was working for a client where a lot of bad choices had been made. After building an initial roadmap to overhaul their infrastructure, the client signed off, and we’re still with them now on a rolling cycle. Month over month, we are continually auditing our best practices to find what works and make improvements. This has enabled us to recover hours of time for the client and put control back in their hands.”
“As a vCIO, you’re never satisfied with ‘good enough’ – you are constantly working to refine your client’s strategy and stay ahead of trends. Although it’s hard work, results build trust. I take real satisfaction in knowing that many clients will sign off on our recommendations automatically because they trust the process – they know it works.”
Cleon Lenhardt joined MainSpring in 2013 and joined the vCIO team this year. With more than 20 years of IT consulting experience, he has worked at all levels of information technology, ranging from technical support and security compliance auditing to strategic consulting.
“I see vCIOs primarily as strategists and long-term decision-makers. Recently I educated my client on the return on investment of modernizing their server infrastructure. I stood in front of the executive firing squad and withstood their questions and objections. Ultimately, when I showed them the long-term projections, they realized the acquisition was the best thing for their business. But other times it’s about making do with what you have: when one of my clients wanted new software, I interviewed their users, and realized they already had the capabilities they needed – their system just wasn’t configured properly yet. After talking to the vendor, we got things sorted out in less than two weeks – that saved us a costly and time-consuming transition.”
“vCIOs make IT decisions with a focus on long-term business objectives and scalability. We look at a client’s infrastructure and ask ourselves how they can leverage what they already have more effectively versus where they need improvements.”
In today’s rapidly changing world, a good vCIO is one of the most valuable outsourced IT partners your business can have – they are problem solvers, trusted business partners, fine-tuners, and long-term decision-makers. They assist with planning, budgeting, and risk management outcomes, all while aligning IT with your business objectives.
At MainSpring, our vCIOs put the success and satisfaction of their clients first, continually working to achieve strategic goals and improve results over the short and long term.
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.