Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have many advantages over larger corporations. They can be nimble, have less overhead, can physically relocate easily, and are able to make decisions quickly. However, they often rely on employees to play dual roles and handle technology issues. Unlike larger corporations that typically have an entire IT department, SMBs do not have the space or budget for such staff, leaving others in the company responsible for making decisions outside of their realm of knowledge and expertise.
Enter the MSP – Managed Services Provider. That’s us. Businesses like Infinity arose from the need for smaller companies to evolve technologically as the world moved away from paper and basic mechanics and toward computers, systems, and internet-based applications. Rather than forcing SMBs to stretch themselves thin by hiring an internal IT team, MSPs provide all services of an internal team at a fraction of the cost of all those employees.
Plus, a secret weapon.
Along with technological support services, such as troubleshooting, software upgrades, and phone systems, we also provide advanced cybersecurity protection, backup and disaster recovery services, and business continuity implementations. But one of the most valuable services offered by premier MSPs is the vCIO.
What Does a vCIO Do?
In a large company, the Chief Information Officer, or CIO, is responsible for collaborating with the other c-level executives to make strategic budgetary decisions within the technological realm of the business. A virtual CIO serves the same function without being an executive employee on an SMB payroll.
Any ongoing issues with support that need to be addressed from the top down can be escalated to the vCIO. While the client continues to focus on their business operations, the vCIO can collaborate with the Service Delivery Manager and any other necessary IT team members on a solution, implement internal training, and continuously improve processes and education.
Another aspect of the vCIO role, at Infinity anyway, involves working closely with a dedicated Technical Alignment Manager (TAM). The TAM is a high-level engineer responsible for ongoing audits of a client’s technological systems, hardware, and overall infrastructure. While most IT providers focus solely on reactive issues and solving problems the client brings to them, the TAM is actively involved in preventing problems from occurring in the first place.
By constantly evaluating all aspects of a client’s technology against our carefully cultivated standards, the TAM helps to prevent equipment failure, out of date services, or any divergence from best business practices. The TAM relays findings to the vCIO, who communicates with the client through quarterly business reviews or other regular meetings to strategize implementation. So the relationship between the vCIO and the TAM is pivotal to creating a more proactive environment for the client. And for us, the TAM and vCIO can only be assigned to a limited number of clients to ensure the highest level of quality and attention.
Perhaps the most critical and helpful responsibility of the vCIO for every organization they serve is budgetary planning. As any successful business owner knows, budgeting is essential for financial allocation, development, and expansion. Tough choices need to be made, and when it comes to technology, some of those choices can come with significant costs.
A vCIO gets to know the client’s short- and long-term goals and can help prioritize projects for the best interest and needs of the company, as well as plan for major technology purchases and investments. This allows the client to work smarter, rather than having to make unplanned purchases in emergency situations.
For example, think of your server. As long as its software stays up to date and you don’t get alerts on space issues, it’s probably not on your radar at all. But your vCIO might know its End of Life date is approaching in 3 years, which means it will be vulnerable to attacks and malfunctions after that. Since the vCIO oversees and accounts for replacements and strategic purchases before they occur and become financially burdensome unexpectedly, you and your vCIO can consider this when you meet regularly and determine the best time and way to replace it, long before it becomes a critical risk.
And while the vCIO is responsible for communicating purchase requirements and facilitating such recommendations through the sales part of the MSP, their role is not to sell. A good vCIO makes recommendations solely for the benefit and protection of their clients. These recommendations are based on best business practices known and identified within the technology industry, as well as to help their clients reach their goals efficiently and effectively.
Real vCIO Value
Now, more than ever, having a trusted advisor to manage a company’s technology is incredibly important for any business owner to consider. Too often the technological realm of a company is underprioritized and oversimplified, leaving the organization open to catastrophic failure, cybersecurity infiltration, and overall inefficiency in processes and workflow management. A company’s size or budget shouldn’t dictate their ability to make informed and educated decisions about technology, and with the right guidance and advice, any company can succeed in this ever-changing world.