Just as its nearly impossible to imagine living without a smartphone or Internet access in the 21st century, operating a business without a dedicated information technology department is a step that cannot be overlooked. However, treating IT like an analysis or productivity tool is a misstep many corporations make. Information is so vital to even the simplest of business goals that every board of directors should have an executive-level position dedicated to IT: the Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Why Hire a CIO?
Having a CIO on your board of directors ensures business-wide standardization and efficiency in data management. When even the most basic tasks that other departments undertake have to happen in a digital environment, it is more necessary than ever to ensure that each department approaches their IT needs in a uniform manner.
This begins the process of treating IT like an asset rather than a cost. It should come as no surprise that having your financial department use software that is completely incompatible with your sales department’s primary applications will cost you in productivity and man-hours. However, having executive-level direction on how both departments approach their IT needs can make their work more efficient, their needs easier to communicate and the overall company strategy simpler to plan moving forward.
What Does a CIO Do?
First of all, a CIO aligns information and technology with business goals. While this sounds deceptively simple, leaving this responsibility to a department without executive-level direction ensures disorganization and lost opportunities to capitalize on data. A CIO needs to work with the CEO and CFO to gather information about each department, learn their specific approaches, recognize trends and identify areas where technology can improve productivity and efficiency.
Through handling the company’s data, a CIO can instruct the rest of the company on how to improve their processes, using their own data to illustrate the point. Examples of useful CIO reports include hardware efficiency, application availability and progress analysis on developing a robust and dependable framework that the business can scale as needed to fit its needs.
Unlike a standard IT manager whose main job is simply keeping systems running and functional, the CIO maps out a continuous strategy for improving IT operations. Technology is constantly changing, and this executive-level position helps ensure your company capitalizes on useful trends in the tech industry, using them to remain competitive in your market.
Outsourced CIOs for small and medium-sized businesses
Even small- and mid-size businesses can realize enormous savings and production benefits through the insight a CIO offers. This is true enough that many of these businesses have chosen to outsource virtual CIOs to oversee these elements of their business strategy: a vCIO can bring in the expertise necessary to produce results without incurring the cost of a full-time executive salary. This option is becoming increasingly popular due to the combination of value and affordability it offers.
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