The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is often called the Chief Business Transformer. And for a good reason, the CIO role touches all aspects of an organization. With the onset of ‘Industry 4.0’, the CIO role is becoming significantly more integral to a company’s overall success. The applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are set to alter the landscape of how all organizations function. If history is any measure, I believe those that start experimenting and adopting those changes early will benefit the most.
However, I find many small to mid-sized firms struggle to keep pace with these changes. Many are still run by their founder, who is often fighting to juggle other problems or growth initiatives. While other businesses lack the financial or talent resources to make digital transformation a reality. Whatever the case, when technological change is necessary, companies are often left floundering, unable to take advantage of the expertise of an experienced CIO.
This is the perfect entry point for a fractional CIO that can bridge the gap between technological needs and budgetary constraints. They do this by operating on a part-time or “fractional” basis, offering all of the benefits of an experienced CIO, without incurring the associated overheads. In this era of seismic technological change, I believe the fractional CIO provides the answer for companies looking to stay competitive and profitable over the next decade.
Why Hire a Fractional CIO?
I see the benefits of bringing in a fractional CIO (sometimes referred to as an ‘interim CIO’) are multifaceted. As I previously mentioned, the primary reason for hiring an experienced digital disrupter is to foresee, plan, and implement future technological strategies. However, they can also bring a different and valuable perspective to the executive team and boardroom.
For example, CIOs are experts at integrating complex networks or systems to improve performance, efficacy, and communication between front line employees and management. What’s more, they have the know-how to implement transformational technological changes capable of facilitating a new business initiative or product launch.
Through my consulting work, I see that as businesses grow, their disparate IT systems often stifle growth. Additionally, their executives may not see strategic business opportunities that can be augmented or enhanced through the adoption of new technologies.
For instance, CIOs are capable of delivering new marketing, social, and eCommerce solutions that build brand loyalty. Likewise, a CIO can increase speed and improve inventory tracking by introducing new cloud applications or RFID technology to legacy logistics warehouses.
Adapt and Plan for the Digital Age
I have previously written about how AI and IoT implications are set to become difference-makers in an increasingly-connected world. We generate up to 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. I believe it’s the companies with the ability to use Applied Intelligence to uncover actionable insights from those almost-innumerable data points that will steal a march on competitors. Applied Intelligence will allow business leaders to understand current and predict future customer buying patterns.
An as experienced Fortune 50 CIO myself, I see an Interim CIO as a well-informed expert on the latest technological advances. They possess in-depth knowledge of how to take under-utilized data sets and turn them into profitable prediction machines. As AI and machine learning become more critical to business performance, it’s those that continue to invest in technological innovation that will prosper.
I’ve spoken to many business leaders (particularly in the manufacturing and logistics sectors) who question how upsurges in automation impact their businesses. Without the help of an experienced CIO advisor, many leaders won’t recognize where to act or, worse, face disruption by a competitor or new market entry.
Take Advantage of the On-Demand Delivery Model
From my experience, when a company prepares to make critical updates to software, hardware, and IT infrastructure, the impact of those improvements on the business is often underestimated. Many companies try to make the changes without experienced technology leadership, often because they can’t afford it. This is precisely where hiring a fractional or interim CIO at the onset of the initiative can be the difference between success or failure.
By hiring an on-demand rather than a full-time executive, a business can pay for the knowledge and leadership at the critical junctions when you need it, rather than becoming stuck with an employee who rarely has enough on their plate to necessitate a full-time salary and benefits package.
Better still, I work with many fractional executives who tie their consulting rate to the outcomes they enable. This way, a company can accurately assess the value the stewardship the interim CIO brings to the table. The CIO typically receives a performance or equity bonus for hitting or exceeding agreed to milestones.
What a Fractional CIO is NOT
Some business leaders make the mistake of thinking a CIO is just another title for IT support or a software developer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Leading transformational change through technological innovation is a stark contrast from managing IT or a software build. When it comes to implementing large-scale technological change, ‘managing’ refers to the task of efficiently making the necessary improvements to get there, whereas ‘leadership’ is defining where ‘there’ is in the first place.
A fractional CIO spends their time looking at the bigger picture, aligning IT capabilities with the overall strategic vision for the business, before handing off the deliverables to managers lower down the chain of command. In-house managers or outsourced providers should provide a company’s technical support. Using a CIO for managing day-to-day IT problems is a waste of both their talent and your money.
How to Bring in an Interim CIO to Deliver Digital Transformation
Given the rapid technological advances of the past few years, it’s no surprise that many are pointing to the growing importance of the CIO position as we enter a significant decade of digital disruption.
I encourage organizations to take advantage of the services of a fractional CIO. These businesses will not only make the necessary leaps in technological capabilities, but they will also reap the rewards of an on-demand delivery model that consistently returns a positive ROI. Moreover, as AI and IoT begin to have severe repercussions for the unprepared, acting now could give your company the upper hand over industry competitors.
If you would like to take advantage of the capabilities of an experienced CIO without the associated risk and overheads, speak to me or a member of the OVESTO team today. We hand-vet our interim and fractional CIOs to ensure they are the best of the best when it comes to delivering targeted talent outcomes.