I’m excited to talk to you guys today about vCIO services and how it can help level-up your I.T. operation. Talking about your business, do you want your business to be innovative? Do you want to stand out as a leader within your industry? Or, do you struggle to stay on top of the latest technologies and figure out how they can give your business an edge?
Often times technology, rather than streamlining your business practices, tends to get in the way of doing business. That’s what we want to avoid, so today we’re going to talk about some of those problems, particularly in the SMB space. Lots of small companies have difficulty providing vision for their I.T. departments.
There’s no cohesive I.T. strategy in place. In other words, technology is a necessary part of the business, but there’s no thought put into how it’s going to really make the business better. In many organizations, we run into what’s called shadow I.T.
In other words, there are applications and services that are purchased by different segments of the business, but they’re not part of an I.T. budget, they’re not something that I.T. has spearheaded the project.
For example, you may have someone in your accounting department that uses a particular piece of software to accomplish a task within their world that I.T. may not even be aware of.
That presents unique challenges in terms of the support landscape, as well as budgeting and understanding where your cost centers are coming from. I.T. in many cases does not conform to meet the needs of the business, and with so many different voices out there, how are you as a business owner, or a high level business manager, supposed to know what direction you should go?
Technology should really be an enabler within your business, and businesses today always get more done when they leverage technology to work smarter. We use that phrase a lot in the world today; work smarter, not harder. Well, that’s what technology really does for us.
Let’s look at some statistics here. In our research, JMARK has identified that 47% of business leaders feel that their business goals are unsupported by I.T.
92% of I.T. departments surveyed claim that their I.T. strategies were less than adequate. That’s a big number. Now, when business stakeholders are highly satisfied with their IT, they are three and a half times more likely to do so when there is an effective strategy in place.
98% of CXOs believe that they should participate in the decision making process around I.T. strategy. The majority of them believing that that participation should occur quarterly or even more frequently.
Executive Perspective of I.T.
I’ve created a fictional company here for the purposes of our discussion, ’cause I think it helps illustrate some of these concepts and how they might relate to a real world example. We’re going to look at Charlie. He’s the CEO. He’s built this business from his garage, and he’s a visionary. He’s got big plans for the future, and substantial growth plans in the very short term.
He’s technically savvy, but he certainly knows his limits, so he recognized the need to have some I.T. management. He hired Manny. Manny is the new I.T. manager. He used to work on the retail floor, but he transitioned to I.T. a couple of years ago. He’s great with desktop support, but he had limited experience with servers and networking, so what does Manny do? He brings in Cameron. Cameron’s their server and network admin. He was brought in to assist Manny with server and network administration tasks.
And then we have Pat, who’s their parts specialist, and Peggy, who’s over payroll. Each of these individuals has their own unique perspective to I.T. and the way that it operates within their business. Charlie, the CEO, says, “I have a business plan to expand my store in five locations over the next three years.” Well, what questions should Charlie be asking? Perhaps things like this. Will there need to be a new server for each of these locations?
Sales people often want to have their company email on them while they’re on the road. How do we secure that company data on those personally owned devices? Is the internet going to be fast enough to handle all of the extra staff that we’ll be adding to manage these new locations? These are not things that Charlie may necessarily think of on his own.
Specialist Persepective of I.T.
What about Pat in parts? Pat says, “I was losing money because my customers couldn’t see my real time inventory. I know I should have talked to Manny first, but I needed an easy solution, so I installed Dropbox on my computer.”
Well, what questions should Pat be asking about this solution? How do we keep the company’s data secure when we’re sharing things with outside parties? How can Manny and Cameron support this application if they don’t even know about it?
Administrative Perspective of I.T.
Then, there’s Peggy in payroll. Peggy says, “ADP sold me on their new cloud product and I signed up last week. I don’t really care about the technology, I just want it to work.”
Well, did Peggy ask these questions? Does it integrate with your accounting software? How do we ensure that company data is secure when it lives in a system that we don’t directly control? What happens if the internet goes down? How are you going to run your payroll? How are you going to access those applications? These are all valid questions and these are indicative of what many companies face as they navigate this new landscape of technology.
Manny’s looking at all of this saying, “There is way too much going on for me to keep it all straight.” Cameron says, “I didn’t know about Dropbox or ADP until after the fact, now I’m struggling to support both of them.”
What they need and what you need is an I.T. strategy that’s aligned with your business objectives. The solution to that, of course the point of our conversation today, is vCIO, or virtual CIO.
What are vCIO services?
What are vCIO services? Well, JMARK fills the role of your chief information officer.
In other words, we become your virtual CIO. You may already outsource the delivery of I.T. operations by partnering with a managed service partner like JMARK, or maybe you’re considering moving your I.T. operations to managed services. We want you to focus your time on the business plan and strategy.
That’s your job, to grow your business.
Let JMARK tailor your I.T. operations to support your business strategy.
We become your I.T. translator.
Essentially, we become your I.T. translator. We take your desired business outcomes and we translate those into I.T. initiatives, things that technology can do within your business to accomplish those goals that you have set. When you partner with an industry leader like JMARK, for vCIO services, it allows you to leverage the advantages of outsourcing within the core leadership role of your I.T. organization.
Why should I outsource vCIO services?
What does that mean? That means you get best in class industry experience and expertise, you get to take advantage of JMARK’s economies of scale, and you get the village approach. With a vCIO from JMARK, they’re part of a larger team. It’s not just one individual who’s a man on an island trying to manage I.T. operations within your organization. You’ve got the backing and resources of a company with history and background and experience in navigating through these difficult waters of how I.T. works within your business.
The same is true for the economies of scale, because JMARK has the backing of this larger organization behind them. Your vCIO, that individual that’s assigned to your account to work within your company, gets to take advantage of the breadth of knowledge and experience that come from integration with so many different and diverse environments.
How are vCIO services different from my current managed services?
So, how are vCIO services different from regular I.T. operations and managed services? You may be asking yourself, “We already have an I.T. leader, we already have a manager” or, “We already have a managed services company. Why do I need an additional layer there of I.T. leadership and oversight?” Well, managed services is essentially outsourced I.T. operations, right? They both belong in the same bucket.
You’re supporting the desktop environment, your server management, network management, project delivery. Essentially, running your I.T. operations.
But who’s providing the leadership and direction for that I.T. operation? Are you as the business leader doing that? Is your I.T. manager or your managed service provider doing that?
Well, you can provide maybe insight to specific business needs, but you’re certainly not an I.T. manager, and even your internal I.T. managers or managed service providers can provide recommendations based on specific needs for individual projects, but in your growing organization, you need dedicated leadership.
You need a dedicated resource who can spend the time to understand your business objectives and tailor an I.T. strategy that aligns with those objectives.
Really, the focus of managed services or your in-house I.T. operation is maintaining a healthy environment in the state that it’s currently in.
I use the analogy that I.T. operations and managed services is designed to keep the wheels on the bus, right? We want things to continue in the state that they’re in, but we want to streamline it and make things more efficient and make it the best that it can be in its current state.
However, the focus of vCIO engagement is engagement and consulting. Bringing your organization, your company into a better state of IT.
The role of a CIO or a vCIO is to create the vision for technology within your company.
Leveling that organization up to a place that it’s never been. The role of a CIO or a vCIO is to create the vision for technology within your company. Managed services or your in-house I.T. operation then executes on that vision as it’s been laid out by the CIO or vCIO.
What is included in vCIO services?
When you sign up for vCIO services with JMARK, what comes with that?
1. A dedicated individual who understands your unique business challenges and needs
They will do quarterly strategic planning sessions with you as key business leaders, provide monthly or in some cases, even more often than monthly, touchpoints, opportunities for you to sync up and talk about what’s going on in your organization. They’ll help you build a technology roadmap.
2. A technology Roadmap
A technology roadmap is more than just how many computers and how many servers and how many pieces of equipment do we have in our organization. But it’s looking at the long term plans for where you want to be as a company, what growth you experience, what your plans are, and how technology can really bring that to bear.
Maybe one of the most important aspects of this is the budget insight that comes with that. We strategize with you on how to get the most bang for your buck by streamlining your I.T. operations.
3. Assistance with I.T. audits and exams
You’ll receive additional assistance with I.T. audits and examinations. In the world of regulatory compliance today, that can be a very difficult sea to navigate.
There are so many different regulations, depending on your particular vertical environment, be it healthcare or legal, or banking, or education. Whatever space you’re in, you face unique challenges and in maintaining compliance with those regulations, and a vCIO can help navigate through those.
4. Help with third party vendors
You’ll receive assistance with third party vendor contract and analysis and negotiation. In other words, think about your phone and internet contracts, communications within your company. How do you know that you’re getting the best deal? How do you know that those internet circuits that you’re paying for are really adequate for your needs?
JMARK looks out in your best interest and works with your vendors to make sure that those are appropriately scaled and priced competitively.
We’ll help building an I.T. steering committee within your organization and can even chair that I.T. steering committee, to make sure that we’re getting feedback and input from all of the business leaders within your company.
We’ll help build documentation and standard operating procedures around how to run your business, bring best practice analysis and consultation, and project oversight. How do the best of the best operate within their organizations, within their companies?
Results of using vCIO services
Really, when you look at these things, it boils down to the maturity of your I.T. organization. vCIO services allow you to take the concepts of I.T. governance and standardization and build a process that’s scalable. Turn your organization into something that can grow beyond the state that it’s in today, and ultimately create strategic alignment within your business so that your I.T. initiatives are aligned with the core business initiatives.
Let’s go back to ACME CO. ACME CO decided to work with JMARK, and JMARK has assigned Jimmy as the vCIO to their account. What were they able to accomplish?
Well, firstly, Jimmy established quarterly strategic planning sessions with Charlie. Now he’s on the same page with his I.T. operation, and he knows what’s going on in that world.
Jimmy formed an I.T. steering committee, compromised of Charlie, Pat, Peggy, and the other department heads, to talk about their unique business challenges and how I.T. can address those needs before a decision is made.
Remember that concern with Dropbox and ADP that were spun up outside of I.T.’s vision? Well, now ACME CO can get in front of those kinds of challenges, and make sure that all leaders within the business are consulted and solutions are tailored to meet the needs of the entire company.
Jimmy worked with Pat in part to identify the use case for Dropbox and found out that there actually an overlap with another application that Cameron had already implemented within the organization. They consolidated that down to a single tool and saved the company money each month while still meeting Pat’s needs.
Then he worked with Peggy to identify an integration with ACME’s building software. Now her payroll process takes half the time that it used to.
Jimmy worked with the I.T. steering committee, and outlined a BYOD, or a Bring Your Own Device policy, which allows sales people access to company email while still ensuring a secure environment for that company data.
He worked with the I.T. steering committee to outline an acceptable use policy which now governs the access and sharing of company data and all new applications are vetted against this policy before they’re implemented to ensure that the company data is kept secure.
Jimmy identified a redundant internet carrier and renegotiated a reduced rate for faster service at the main location, based on the fact that they have five more future locations planned in the near future.
So, what’s your end game? Well, really, the point of all of this, is vision and leadership within your I.T. organization. vCIO services bring I.T. strategy that aligns with your core business objectives.
It eliminates shadow I.T. spending, helps you ensure that all of the aspects of I.T. are considered within the different respective business areas of your company, and it allows you to work smarter, finding ways that technology can become an enabler within your business, rather than being something that spins your wheels and burns extra time.
What can you do accomplish in your business with vCIO services? Well, you can level up your I.T. operations.
We can help you achieve your strategic business objectives.
Thanks for joining me, I enjoyed talking about this and would love to talk with you further about what it would mean to partner with JMARK for bringing this kind of I.T. strategy in your organization.