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For small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), not every executive position that you would typically find at a large business is filled. Sometimes, business owners must wear multiple hats or delegate the duties of a particular position to lower-level employees.

One executive position that is commonly left unfilled in SMBs is that of CIO. However, there are many cases when a business could greatly benefit from hiring a CIO. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the role a CIO plays, how to determine if your business needs to hire a CIO, as well as an exciting alternative solution that may be the perfect compromise for SMBs.

What are the Duties of a CIO?
A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the senior-most position in the technology sector of a company. CIOs are responsible for helping develop goals and a roadmap for a company’s technological future and leading up efforts to achieve those goals. CIOs seek to add value to a business through the use of technology and ensure that the business stays on the cutting edge of technological developments. Any new technological project within the company will be conducted under the oversight of the company’s CIO.

If these are roles that you feel would be beneficial for your business, then you may wish to consider hiring a CIO.

Should Your Business Hire a CIO?
While having someone to fill the roles of a CIO may sound great, the decision of whether your business needs to hire a CIO is a little more complex. Outlined below are several different scenarios. If one or more of these scenarios applies to your business then hiring a CIO may be the right choice for you.

Your IT Staff Lacks Leadership
If your IT staff does not have someone they can answer to who will thoroughly understand what it is they are working on, their questions, and more, then problems may arise. Like any other department, your IT staff needs leadership within their department. It’s not enough for your IT staff to answer to the CEO or the business owner if the CEO or business owner do not have an extensive technological background. Hiring a CIO, though, will allow you to put a quality leader in charge of your IT staff.

You’re Behind the Technological Curve
If your competitors are starting to outpace you from a technological standpoint, you may wish to hire a CIO to help you get caught up. CIOs are in charge of keeping businesses on the cutting edge of technology, and they will be able to develop and execute a plan to help transition a business that is behind the curve up to the latest software and hardware solutions that are available.

Your Business is Incredibly Reliant on Your Technology
Some businesses don’t require a lot of technological innovation, and many SMBs get along just fine with a minimal or even nonexistent IT staff. However, many other businesses are incredibly reliant on their internal technology, technological products and services that they offer to their customers, or both. For businesses in this latter category, hiring a CIO may prove to be beneficial.

Your Business is Expanding to Multiple Locations
Expanding to another location requires great leadership across all departments in order to ensure that the standards and practices of the company are successfully implemented at the second location. If you are expanding to multiple locations, a CIO will be able to help ensure that the technological processes and solutions are correctly implemented and are the same across all locations. This kind of consistency can prove incredibly valuable for expanding companies.

An Exciting Alternative to Hiring a CIO
There are a lot of reasons why you may wish to hire a CIO for your business, but there is one big reason that keeps many businesses from doing so – cost. Paying the substantial salary of a new executive is simply more than many SMBs can justify.

Thankfully, there is an alternative solution that allows you to fill most of the roles a traditional CIO would fill for a fraction of the cost. This alternative solution is hiring a virtual CIO.

A virtual CIO is an outsourced position that performs the same tasks and assumes the same responsibilities as an in-house CIO. Since virtual CIOs are working for multiple clients, though, the cost of hiring them is considerably less.
Since many SMBs may not need to hire a full-time CIO, virtual CIOs can be hired on demand based on your business’s needs. For example, if you estimate that you only need a CIO to work about twenty hours a month then you can hire a virtual CIO just for those twenty hours rather than paying for a full-time CIO and leaving them with nothing to do the rest of the time.

Likewise, if you just need a CIO to guide you through a single project or phase in your business, a virtual CIO can be hired for that single period of time. Hiring a traditional CIO for a single, small period of time would not be possible.
In many ways, virtual CIOs are the perfect solution for SMBs who need the help of a CIO but cannot afford the compensation and benefits of a traditional CIO. If you would like to learn more about how our virtual CIO services can benefit your business then we invite you to contact us today.