The IT function in both small and mid-size businesses is under stress. For years, increasing competition for financial resources has forced virtually every IT organization to do more with less, use existing IT assets and keep systems online. At the same time, wave upon wave of disruptive technology offers potentially more compelling value propositions or competitive advantages than the traditional data center infrastructure. The push and pull of these competing forces can simply overwhelm the ability of the IT director—or controller, CIO, CFO, President or CEO, whoever does the job—to evaluate alternatives, adapt to changing business needs, or simply keep up with existing projects.
Meanwhile, frustrated with the pace of response from IT, some business managers take matters into their own hands. Often called “shadow IT,” they may implement a departmental solution or buy mobile devices, for example, without understanding the full impact on the organization’s infrastructure, operations, or costs. Bypassing IT controls can lead to unfortunate results: creating more data silos or more seriously, compromising data security.
Other managers complain that lack of alignment between IT and the business unit hampers their ability to achieve revenue or other goals. Such complaints undermine the CIO’s ability to be an effective member of the management team.
Critics have argued that IT is merely a commodity and a cost center; it does not require representation in the C-suite. Yet the IT infrastructure is called the “backbone” for good reason; it holds the organization together and enables it to move towards its business goals.
While many mid-market companies typically have a CIO in place, start-ups and small businesses frequently don’t. Small business owners often act as their own CIO. They may not have the right skills or the right team to build and manage the infrastructure. Typically they have nowhere to turn for guidance. Certainly they don’t have time to do their own job and the CIO’s at the same time.
In both small and mid-size businesses, CIO Advisory Services can enhance the owner’s or CIO’s personal effectiveness in a number of ways. This white paper explores the impact that such services can have on the business. Topics include how to choose a virtual CIO, and a CIO Advisory Services Model that identifies strategy, domain expertise, resource augmentation and mentoring. Details on popular advisory services are provided, along with a CIO Advisory Services case study for a financial services firm.
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