Virtual CIO FAQs
I already have “vCIO” services through my current provider why do I need OCIO? What most companies actually receive should be called “account manager” or “technical account management” or said another way, “an experienced tech with good people skills” or the spin of the sales process. We actually prefer the term “Fractional CIO” as the vCIO term has become a buzzword and is misleading 99.9% of the time. For example, many IT/MSP companies (here are some questions to ask before hiring one) will bend over backward to offer special deals and incentives for new customers, while neglecting to offer any incentives that recognize existing customers for their loyalty, the business’s core values, core focus, marketing strategy, 1-year plan, 3-year picture, or 10-year targets. This service has no regularity nor disciplined approach. These “account managers” provide services that encompass customer relationship, walk of shame/appeasement, account planning, sales support, and technical up-selling. These are not vCIO services. At OCIO we have trusted advisors, we address the business issues first and let our clients come to the conclusion that they have a problem through Agile discovery. Spending time on questions and going deep into the subject not only means we understand them but that they feel understood. Every solution we bring will be the result of a dedication to solving the problem stated. vCIO services at a minimum include, the ability to link IT systems to business objectives; a knowledge of technology trends likely to impact the customer; a firm grasp of IT project planning and management and experience in the IT budgeting process, as well as provide greater objectivity, since he or she may be less subject to an organization’s internal politics or external vendor bias. Every time we have a meeting with a client, we wear the consultant hat. Our niche is that most companies usually expect to have the tech talk with a geek or sales guy instead of a business conversation with an informed and experienced business consultant. Two great industry best practice and standards articles on this are:
- The 4 Roles that Make You a High-Value Business Partner (Outsourced CIO focuses on Business vCIO and Technical vCIO services)
- The 5 Levels of vCIO Operational Maturity (Outsourced CIO generally works with OML5 companies)
Are you in competition with my IT department or Service Provider (SP)? No. We know your IT people can see so much, and we believe it is their responsibility to influence investment priorities, not just execute on priorities set by vendor preferences, silos, politics, or turf wars. Because IT departments or SP’s offer vCIO services as an “add-on” to their managed services, the inherent problem with this approach is that it focused on infrastructure alone. A company’s IT infrastructure includes the physical IT devices and products but does not include the employees, documentation, processes or strategy. We come alongside your IT department or SP by communicating to a ‘partnership’ mindset by transforming IT people from technologists to strategists. Because most IT departments or SP do not have the dedicated resources for a vCIO focus, but rather a great tech with good people and sales skills, it actually tends to be an inward-facing, stagnant and “as I have time” approach. Thus customer service, customer experience, user experience, communication and service levels are impacted. We take advantage of partnerships because we have lost the mentality that we have to develop the solutions ourselves and by relying on the combined efforts of others, the customer wins and moves faster toward their goals.
That sounds really good but they are still going to feel threatened, what do I do now? Although it grieves us that some IT departments or SP construct hard lines around IT, protect their client base, business opportunities and revenue by censoring feedback and avoiding difficult issues because of a fear of losing business, fear of being embarrassed, or fear of feeling inferior, we are committed to creating an environment devoid of organizational boundaries. We do this by investing back into the industry by giving away business, consulting instead of selling, telling the kind truth, and entering danger. We separate our consultative services from the managed service contract mindset. We also realize that most CEO’s would rather not hear our brilliant strategies if your e-mail is down, so we are partnered with many vendors who provide similar services you are used to as well as the latest and greatest trends and are committed to a customer and user experience value-based approach. We do not “beta-test” on our clients. We are vendor agnostic, which means we select the products and services to recommend for a client based on the customer’s requirements and not the vendor we are aligned with. Most of our vendors/partners are national, meaning they do not subscribe to one standard overall or “their way of doing it”; they use the best of the breed or best practices. Thus our delivery practices are equal to industry standards or a fact-based approach. It’s not our way, this is the industry’s way.
Can you save me money on my technology? A goal of partnering with you as your vCIO is to add value by being an asset, not a liability. Most business look at technology as a liability, meaning that it is a reactive cost rather than an asset to be used, maintained and held accountable for producing vision and goals for the company. Said another way, most people get they must maintain their cars (oil changes, fluid changes, etc), but tend to step over a dollar to save a dime when it comes to technology and services. We get that technology is an investment, as your vCIO, we see everything that is happening within an organization. We look at every transaction and customer service experience and with that unique perspective, understand where the efficiency is happening and where it is not. We do not accept things the way they are and guide you to stop thinking of IT investments as liabilities and treat it as our own. We have a C-Level mentality and a vested interest in ensuring your business is working toward a competitive advantage by realizing that part of the job is to fulfill your IT requests. Our real job is to understand your business and come up with innovative ideas so that you have a competitive edge. We save you money by being proactive as a way to leverage IT, to promote operational efficiency, continuous improvement, and innovation and many times that means eliminating corporate wastes, auditing subscriptions, contracts, vendor relationships and staying up on the latest technology and services and recommending future-proofing alternatives.
Technology is so complicated, how are you going to help us have a competitive edge? OCIO is not an island, and much of our ideas and innovative solutions come from being in the trenches as a user, service desk technician, network engineer, and years in the industry across many verticals. We are involved with peer groups, industry events, writing and giving back to the industry as well as being influenced by it. We realize we don’t know everything, must remain teachable, and more importantly, accountable with the objective to influence the general strategy of your company to attain a competitive edge with technology. We expose our vCIO’s to extensive industry knowledge, a vertically-related solution stack, and a high level of consultation skills. We focus on technology and IT strategies and therefore know what’s hot in the world of technology and how to implement those solutions can leverage opportunities for our clients. We steward your technology investments with strategic competitive solutions, plan the projects, manage the teams, and implement the processes, so you can take care of your business.
This all sounds great and you have me chomping at the bit, what’s next? Rather than waste your precious time, we have found that if you take a few moments and fill out the applicable needs assessment, based on your interest, the sooner we can hit the ground running for you. These assessments are personalized and will produce a plan for your company on the road to having a competitive edge. Go here to get started with your specific assessment.