What is a Virtual CIO

What is a Virtual Chief Information Officer

vCIO, an acronym for Virtual Chief Information Officer, is an organization or contractor that works as a company’s chief information officer (CIO) but as a third-party, as opposed to in-house. Unlike the traditional role of a one-man CIO, most vCIOs consist of tech experts with the primary aim of collaborating with the clients, advising them, and performing tasks traditionally associated with the CIO. 

Role of a Virtual CIO

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Dedicated Technology Liaison for Your Company

A quality vCIO should be able to provide sole focus on your business as a reliable point of contact for technological expertise. Though virtual in name, the relationship between the decision maker and the vCIO should be strong, productive, and personal.
How often are they available? How often will you speak with them? What kind of proactive guidance and expertise will they provide?

These are the kinds of questions you need to know the answers to before you can be satisfied with what the MSP is giving you.
Ask the MSP about their existing relationships with other SMBs to get another perspective of what your vCIO relationship will likely look like.

Technical Reporting for the Client

As part of the vCIO’s close relationship with the client, you should also be expecting periodic meetings between yourself and the vCIO in order to assess, reflect, and take action on the changing goals of your organization. These should be determined by what you are comfortable with, but will typically take place on a quarterly basis.

These reports mean you are able to assess a number of areas important to you:

  • Compliance needs
  • Near- and long-term IT projects and expenses
  • Support metrics and satisfaction scores
  • Completed and in-flight projects
  • Relationship health and partnership alignment
 

The vCIO is the bridge between your business and the technology teams powering your digital transformation. It’s important to have frequent and comprehensive reports on the progress of your infrastructure and to have actionable data available to determine your future goals.

Defines IT Objectives and Plans the Technology Roadmap

This is an essential part of what makes a vCIO an integral part of your business’ digital transformation moving forward. The consultation provided by the vCIO determines the direction and prospective implementations for your organization long-term.

The vCIO should be able to answer questions about your technology suite involving issues such as:

  • Intellectual property protection
  • Disaster recovery
  • Employee on-boarding
  • Cybersecurity training
 

They are able to recommend and maintain vendor relationships for your productivity and line-of-business application suites and verify compatibility between vendors and your existing or planned IT infrastructure. A good vCIO is proactive and should plan proposals for new projects to improve the business’ long-term prospects, and defines these objectives based on your needs and your budget. They should be focused on providing you with a strong recommendation framework which is consistently modified as your organization’s goals evolve.

Cost

Let’s not forget one of the most important considerations decision makers are making in their digital transformations: expenditure. Working with an MSP is a comparatively cost-effective way of hiring an IT team to keep your tech infrastructure running smoothly. Employing a full-time salaried on-site CIO can be expensive for small businesses.

For SMB owners who may not have the funds to directly hire IT staff, they can instead partner with an MSP that provides a vCIO—in addition to a host of support staff and engineers.

How do vCIOs differ from MSPs?

It’s common for individuals with succinct knowledge of managed service providers (MSPs) to deduce from the definition above that both terminologies can be used interchangeably. This is far from the truth.

While vCIOs are third-party contractors that serve as a company’s Chief Information Officer, An MSP is a person or organization that remotely manages the company’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and end-user systems, essentially providing outsourced IT services. The easiest way to think of the difference between vCIO and MSP is that MSPs perform predetermined tasks for their clients, while vCIO plays a proactive and strategic role. However, by introducing consulting and supportive activities, MSPs may also be proactive, but vCIOs provide direction to the company and ensure that everyone follows suit.

vCIOs offer more insights that help improve clients’ businesses. They research best practices obtainable and try to craft the company’s workflow into them. MSPs on the other hand only work with the client’s blueprint. Also, vCIOs engage the client’s management team, and guide its IT budget, while MSPs conform their operations with their client’s budget.

vCIOs are also more long-term in their approach to problems than MSPs. Summarily, the major difference between MSPs and vCIOs is that while MSPs are an outsourced Information Technology department, the other serves as the company’s chief information officer –managing, and creating long-term strategies in its IT arm.

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The software is equipped with tools that streamline repetitive IT support and management tasks. It enables automated deployment and installation of software packages to endpoints, computers and users without causing disruption. XEOX simplifies patch management processes with instant endpoint scanning, patch distribution and patch compliance reporting capabilities.

IT teams and professionals gain a complete and clear view of their entire network. They can monitor the activity of users and devices connecting to VLAN networks and receive notifications about switch port status and availability. Efficient endpoint management also allows them to detect and fix problems on their Windows endpoints immediately. XEOX also has a mobile app that allows them to track and troubleshoot issues, perform tasks, and access important alerts anywhere.

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