The nature of technology and the level of expertise required to support the modern workplace is changing dramatically. Factors affecting the way organizations need to deploy and manage their technology include:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a permanent revolution in where people work
- Cloud-based and SaaS applications are the norm
- Cybercrime and ransomware are increasing threats
- Aligning business goals and the right IT solutions is a major challenge
Managing these issues is at best difficult for busy association executives. To meet this challenge, Association Technologies has created a service, the AT Virtual CIO (VCIO), meant to bridge the gap.
The Virtual CIO is a trusted partner who assists executives to evaluate, implement and manage technology that leads to business success.
What is a Virtual CIO?
Who and what is a “fractional leader?” Essentially, it’s an executive who assists a company and shares their expertise for a fraction of the time. Fractional leaders have been serving in back-office roles—human resources, finance departments, etc.—for years, but they are now common throughout the C-suite.
You get the benefits of an executive without the hefty annual salary and comprehensive benefits package they command.
Some companies mistakenly assume that a short-term or “fractional” or “virtual” leader won’t be invested in long-term success. Instead, they may help you find it.
Fractional executives can focus narrowly on key initiatives instead of getting sucked into day-to-day distractions or office politics. Fractional executives are there to get the job done, providing the benefits of specialization at a fraction of the cost.
This type of leadership is likely to become far more common when the pandemic subsides. As people take stock of their lives and leave their jobs in droves (The Great Resignation), seasoned leaders will be looking for new opportunities to use their expertise and experience but might not want to sign up for a decade of service. As an alternative, companies that need to populate the C-Suite and plan strategic shifts can rely on fractional leadership to bring in fresh perspectives while avoiding the headache of traditional executive recruiting.
For these reasons, fractional leadership will likely grow in popularity and play an expanded role in the changing face of work.
What does a VCIO do for my organization?
Staffed by experienced executives, the VCIO role maintains a customer-centric point of view. Among the most important aspects of this high-level IT position are:
- Matching the organization's business objectives to IT capabilities
- Making sure the organization has a solid, reliable, and secure IT infrastructure
- Becoming a valued long-term business partner
- Serving as a knowledgeable resource for IT strategic planning and capital budgeting
- Performing periodic in-person reviews of the business relationship by reviewing key metrics that measure success:
- IT budgets
- Key performance indicators
- IT project status
- IT reliability
- Maintaining a global perspective on issues that affect all clients
- Assisting with third-party IT vendor management
- Ensuring smooth, effective system integrations
- Providing IT coaching, mentoring, and partnership services
The VCIO does not replace existing relationships between AT’s staff and clients. Rather, the position serves as the glue between association executives and AT consultants, collecting information to share widely. The purpose is to keep both customers and AT staff informed and on the same page, stay abreast of important market developments, and foster a deeper, more valuable relationship.
VCIO – A Practical Business Example
Having a strong IT infrastructure is critical in the shifting landscape of deploying IT today. Mitigating risk for the organization, employees and business partners pays for itself in peace of mind and raising the value of the business.
Gartner IT Solutions recommends that 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent of a business’ revenue be spent on IT infrastructure. A seasoned VCIO can be the catalyst, leading the effort to ensure your business’ security. The alternative is to lose sleep and potentially become a victim of cybercrime, which Parachute IT Solutions estimates costs Americans $1 trillion every year.
- Underestimate the risks inherent to maintaining IT capabilities
- Don’t implement detailed plans spelled out for them by IT service providers
- View security as a chore or as wasted time and effort
- View security as a one-time only project
AT has a step-by-step process to follow to get you there based on the CIS* Control Framework
1. Inventory all IT assets/endpoints, serial numbers, and report on them monthly
2. Encrypt drives, protect passwords with MFA, install licensed, up-to-date security software
3. Implement a process for raising IT issues and addressing them in a timely manner
*CIS Control Framework
The CIS (Center for Internet Security) Control Framework provides a structured, standardized way to analyze and improve cybersecurity. CIS is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to create confidence in the connected world. The organization offers globally recognized best practice solutions developed by NSA teams and other law enforcement agencies to help businesses protect themselves against cyber threats.
Your Association Technologies’ VCIO is a trusted executive partner, someone with experience and expertise in implementing business-compliant IT solutions like these.