CIOs play a key role in most major companies orchestrating the day-to-day technology needs of the firm. They are vital partners of the management team helping the President or CEO with many forward-looking strategic initiatives. The CIO's goal is to assess the technological needs for the future, both one year, three years and five years down the road. They must plan in advance to purchase whatever systems are necessary, along with maintaining the right staff mix, to ensure the company maintains its competitive edge from a technological standpoint.
Virtual CIOs always has grand plans to merge the two separate IT departments into one seamless IT department; however, for a variety of different reasons this never seems to happen. After the merger is over and done with, we're left with two sets of everything in IT and things just got a lot more complicated. CIO gets judged based on the value that they've been able to bring to their company. Just keeping things up and running is not enough: you need to do things that will allow the company to truly run better.
Smaller businesses may find their business growth stunted due to a lack of technological foresight. They may fall behind competitors who are quicker to adapt to more efficient systems and devices. Their network can even grow obsolete. Fortunately, many IT firms offer a solution to help smaller businesses overcome this issue. They are able to provide a company with a "Virtual CIO" on an outsourced basis. This enables an organization to utilize the services of a team of skilled and experienced IT professionals, including analysts and engineers without the ongoing costs incurred by full time staff positions.
A small business can contract for this service once they become a managed network services client of the firm. They can hire the "CIO" to work with them short-term or long-term. The CIO can assist with key business planning that involves anything related to IT. This may include helping with the purchasing of new equipment and software, staffing, networking, mobile networks and other important technology related tasks. The CIO can help a business with relatively simple to more complex decisions. For example, they can help determine if the business needs to upgrade its Microsoft Office software.
The Virtual CIO may also work with the business on transitioning to an off-site hosted environment and leveraging the latest technological services such as cloud computing. They can also create a plan in line with business goals, whether it be for six months or six years down the road. They can ascertain if a business needs an instant messaging platform or wishes to incorporate video conferencing. They can learn if the business needs a new phone system and make appropriate recommendations. By meeting with key stakeholders the IT firm can learn about the company's business goals, then determine what challenges you are facing with your current technology and what new technologies are available as a solution.
A lot of modern technologies can help with this process. Not the least of which is the ability to virtualize your servers. The fewer physical servers that a company has to maintain, the simpler the IT infrastructure is going to be. This is a good step, but it does not go far enough. The next step that you have to take as CIO is to ruthlessly reduce the number of applications that the company uses. Every piece of software that is being used requires a team to support and manage it. Getting rid of software will greatly simply the task of running an IT department.
LiknsPro has shown how to do this. They were faced with a challenge in that their front-line staff was spending too much time doing IT work and not enough time working with customers. The IT department implemented a Desktop virtualization solution and it has paid off handsomely. As a CIO you are going to have to keep your eyes open for opportunities to add value to your company. It's not always going to be the big CRM implementation projects that will advance your career, sometimes it may be as simple as finding something else to virtualize...
Complexity is bad. It's bad for your company and it's especially bad for the IT department. As CIO, it's your job to prevent complexity in the first place and then to get rid of it if it does sneak in through the backdoor. In order to get rid of complexity, we first have to understand where it comes from. The sources are many: mergers, shadow IT departments, failure to enforce standards, etc. When a CIO finds complexity, he or she needs to take steps to eliminate it. We have many tools to accomplish this. These include virtualization and reducing the number of applications that we need to support.
Complexity is a tricky beast for a CIO to fight because it never shows up to battle you. Instead, it sneaks in around the corners and before you know it, you've got an IT department that is battling complexity every day. Enlist the entire department to identify processes and systems that have just become too complex and then create simpler solutions to replace them with.
LinksPro has spent over 20 years consulting with a wide variety of IT firms from the very big to the very small. We provide you with his insights into the leadership needed to combine the separate worlds of business and IT strategy. His guidance offers hope to firms everywhere who are struggling with this challenge. LinksPro provides smaller businesses and other organizations with the opportunity to operate more strategically. By utilizing an outsourced service a company can plan and budget for ever evolving changes in technology and keep pace with larger competitors. It allows you to become less reactive and more proactive.