A CIO (Chief Information Officer) can provide a great deal of value to any business — large or small. They not only help set technology standards, but they help the company keep an eye on the future. Smaller businesses often struggle to support this position, however, because they often operate on tighter budgets. The role is frequently divided up among many members of the executive team.
Before you lump CIO responsibilities onto other members of your team, consider outsourcing the role.
What Is A CIO, and Do I Need One?
CIOs are generally found in large or enterprise companies, specifically those with over 250 employees. This executive level role helps ensure that any selected technology is able to move the company forward. The CIO is also forward looking, keeping an eye on which new technologies might benefit the company.
A CIO is:
- Dedicated to extracting maximum value from implemented technologies
- Strategically focused rather than tactical
- Constantly learning about the latest technologies that can provide value
Small to mid-size companies usually do not have a CIO position. When a CIO is not present, responsibilities are usually piled onto an IT Manager, Director or even shared across several managers. But for more complex use of technology or when technology implementation becomes large or far-reaching, these quasi-roles can break down.
IT managers are usually tactically focused. They may have some focus on strategy but day-to-day tasks can distract from having a purely strategic focus. A CIO will not have such distractions.
In businesses that have distributed software via cloud services or SaaS, knowing where everything is located and which data is coming to and from the company is important for the integrity of security and privacy. Especially for any company that must be HIPAA compliant (to name only one type of compliance), ensuring compliance of complex systems is critical. This is where a CIO can play an important role.
"In addition to handling issues as they've come up, Fluid has done a great job of getting out in front of things and consulting with us. They let us know when we need to start thinking about upgrades or capacity increases -- letting us know what's on the horizon for the technology of our company. When we've had issues, they've been very good about thinking out of the box and really being an outsourced CIO."
The CIO's Role in Driving Business Growth
To drive business growth, the CIO’s role shouldn’t be isolated to IT. Instead, the CIO should be integrated into overall business strategy discussions. Even better if the CIO steps up and becomes actively involved in helping shape the overall business strategy. Having the CIO report directly and regularly to the CEO rather than IT support groups can build trust with other C-level members. The result is a more cohesive business strategy and greater potential for the business.
What many businesses don’t realize, however, is that the CIO doesn’t have to be in-house in order to drive the business forward. Partnering with an IT provider who puts business first can be a way to get the benefit of having a CIO without adding to company headcount.
Looking To Bridge the Gap?
Your company may not yet require (or be able to afford) a CIO on-staff. And many IT providers have limitations when it comes to overall business strategy. Finding the right provider who has both IT expertise and business focus can solve a lot of problems for small to mid-sized businesses or larger companies that can’t yet budget for a CIO position. If you’re ready to work with a team that can move your IT from break/fix support to business driver, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Fluid IT Services.