Mistakes happen every day when you run a business, especially if everyone wears more than one hat. IT mistakes can cost more than lost orders and disgruntled customers, however. Failing to protect and utilize your company's data could put you out of business.
According to BizTech magazine, 58 percent of responders expressed concern about security in their organization, and getting hacked via IoT devices was a top threat. Of those, 44 percent admitted that their company is doing nothing to prevent such attacks, 11 percent weren't sure, leaving 4 percent actively pursuing solutions. Depending on where your business falls on the spectrum, it might be time to get some guidance from an expert.
vCIOs as an Alternative to Full-time CIO
In today's world, technology is critical to the success of any business, but SMBs need tech leaders that provide an immediate ROI. With spyware and hacking impacting major institutions with vast resources, it's difficult to decide how to invest your IT spend, especially if you are working on a limited budget.
A vCIO, or virtual CIO, is either a single contractor or a service provider utilizing multiple resources to serve as a company's chief operating officer. In this role, a vCIO works with a client's IT department in the same ways as a full-time, traditional CIO. A fractional CIO works part-time in small to midsize businesses on an on-demand basis.
The vCIO acts as both a CIO and CTO, providing services you pay for when you use them. Ultimately, having an expert on call and available via email, Skype and other technology 24 hours a day is worth the expense and cheaper than hiring someone full-time. Freeing up limited internal IT employees to concentrate on their core job also increases the productivity of your technology team.
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Current IT Trends in Small Businesses
Of 600 small to midsize businesses surveyed, a large majority ranked technology as a primary driver to reaching key business objectives. The technology areas they felt needed the most work in their companies included developing more robust IT security, effectively utilizing and managing the data that was often available but not easily accessible, and replacing aging software and equipment. If you own or manage an SMB, these technology challenges might sound very familiar.
Nearly half of these growth-oriented companies planned to increase IT spending. Specifically, 47 percent of SMB with less than 50 employees say they will use outsourced IT management. For small businesses of 100 to 250 employees, this jumps to 58 percent. Part of that outsourced spend should include a top-notch leader with a proven track record.
vCIO, Great Model for SMBs
Last year, 64 percent of SMB’s had at least one security breach that their cybersecurity defenses could not deflect. Unfortunately, 43 percent of cyber-attacks go after small businesses because they are easier targets. If you have hired contractors or employees to focus on this, that's discouraging, especially since the number one root cause of a successful breach is a negligent employee or contractor. If your firm is not equipped to build a roadmap for risk mitigation and cybersecurity, a vCIO can help you bridge the gap and spend money where it's most needed.
A vCIO identifies and formalizes your organization's core technology goals by creating a plan, or Technology Roadmap, that maps out how to accomplish them. The roadmap syncs up your company's needs and expectations with the corresponding technology tools required to meet them.
Most importantly, vCIOs help SMBs avoid the long and expensive process of hiring a full-time CIO. The cost model can be extremely flexible, with flat monthly fees or hourly rates being the norm.
Benefits of a vCIO
An effective vCIO provides technology solutions that meet your organization's future state needs and align with projected growth and organizational goals. The engagement with a vCIO might include:
- Conducting a needs assessment of the current IT environment
- Composing a schedule of software and hardware requirements, including updates and licensing costs
- Creating a proactive cybersecurity strategy
- Implementing disaster recovery and best practices to avoid catastrophic loss
Beyond the nuts and bolts of ensuring dependable technology remains in place, a vCIO can help you determine where improvements are most desperately needed.
The Bottom Line
Perhaps your SMB is looking for a visionary to harness the latest technologies - cloud computing, IoT, artificial intelligence and collaborative tools - and put them to work for your company. Conversely, your most pressing need could be updating an aging hardware and software infrastructure that is curbing the growth trajectory of your business. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, having an experienced, capable vCIO helps ensure that your company can bridge the gap.
The financial benefits of partnering with an MSP offering vCIO services include a more secure, contemporary IT environment, technology goals aligned with business continuity, a concrete disaster recovery plan and improved availability of IT systems.