Technology has greatly changed and grown over the years and so has the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Many companies don’t understand how technology can contribute to business growth and the CIO’s role is to develop IT strategies aligned with business goals to allow the company to stay ahead of the competition. It is hard for small businesses to afford a full-time CIO, but these companies can now contract a CIO on-demand, once a week, once fortnightly or once a month. First, let’s understand the CIO role and then how companies can use this professional on demand.


CIO Role

CIOs are very important to a business and an organisation as technology is the main tool for growing any business and thus making it the most important factor to get right. A failure to invest in IT infrastructure or invest in the wrong tech can lead to a business becoming inefficient and losing out to competitors. (Bennett, 2017). CIOs should be integrated into the entire business as they play a key role in developing strategic plans and this, in turn, is better poised to achieve profitability and roll out new initiatives for the company. With the continued intertwining of business and technology, CIOs will be increasingly important. An enabler of most strategic initiatives is technology and thus it is crucial to have a leader in charge of them. This a very important role both in the operations of a business and taking the business to the next level. CIOs are very important and significant in a company’s business strategy (Driver, 2018). The CIO takes the vision of the CEO, concerns of the CFO, the operation efficiency of the COO and the technological knowledge of the IT department and combines them all together to form the organisations IT strategy. A CIO runs and changes IT. As a C-level executive, they are responsible for setting the IT strategy and making sure this works with the broader business strategy. The ideal CIO understands business and technology at the same time, and so turns business challenges into solutions through technology.

Adoption of CIO services to small organisations

A CIO is a senior executive, however, in small organisations, resources are more constrained than in larger organisations and thus cannot afford a full-time CIO.  The focus of the small organisation will be on delivering more with less. The basics of the role of the CIO remains the same. CIO on-demand assists start-ups and SMBs (Small and Midsize Business) achieve greater success using technology to drive their business goals. CIO on- demand is very beneficial for SMBs as the CIO can provide:

  1. Ways to leverage technology and processes to drive growth
  2. A ready resource of advice on large technology investments, strategic direction and acquisition issues.
  3. Input on management issues.

All the above can be provided at an affordable cost without having to hire a full-time CIO. An on-demand CIO provides IT managerial expertise, but only for the hours that you need. They are a part of your team and they are invested in your company’s success. With an on-demand CIO, you can engage a seasoned CIO on a flexible part-time basis a day or two a week, once a month, or as often as needed at a cost that you can afford.

An on-demand CIO provides a remunerative solution to all your problems related to IT since they provide their expertise, but only for the hours that you need. The CIO can make the hard decisions with your IT budget and make it work better for you.

The impact of not having a CIO

In the short term:

  1. Issues and opportunities are not clearly identified
  2. IT and the business do not communicate and thus no good decisions are made
  3. Change is handled incompetently
  4. Risks are introduced slowly but not identified, tracked and controlled

In the long term:

  1. Issues become harder to fix and affect productivity
  2. External services become expensive and do not meet the business needs
  3. Opportunities are not capitalised on
  4. IT operates in “break-fix “mode

An on-demand CIO provides a remunerative solution to all your problems related to IT since they provide their expertise, but only for the hours that you need. The CIO can make the hard decisions with your IT budget and make it work better for you. Summed up, the on-demand CIO will help your company save and make more money by analysing everything you do with IT and to provide the best business support possible (Ouwerkerk, 2016).  

How the On-Demand CIO works with organisations

The first step is to understand the business and its goals. And once all this clear, the steps are based on:

  • Auditing: Working through a structured process to see how things are currently done and identifying the issues and opportunities
  • Planning: What needs to happen and when for the company to get where it wants to go
  • Change: Following a structured process that minimises risks and maximises the project success

An on-demand CIO can be used in different ways like:

  • Part-time: An example can be one or two times a week
  • Ad-hoc: Assisting with issues or opportunities as they come up or are identified
  • On Tap advisor: Assist around a specific challenge and providing guidance to ensure the best result is achieved
  • Meeting: sitting in on executive and board-level meetings to contribute to corporate strategy and discussions from an IT perspective

In conclusion, adding an experienced on-demand CIO to your team will help ensure an effective and efficient application of your IT assets and improve your operational speed and efficiency. It will enable you to acquire the executive IT management experience your company needs for a fraction of the cost and help your business scale with innovative solutions. If you want to know more about how a CIO as a Service can help you leverage IT for competitive advantage, contact us!

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