What is a vCIO?

Chief Information Officer

A Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) provides the normal CIO functions for a business on an as-needed basis.  Many SMB’s cannot afford to hire a full-time CIO, however, they need this important function at critical stages in the life of the business.  Expanding beyond vCIO, Custom Information Services (CIS) offers Managed vCIO, which combines the on-demand vCIO coupled with the services of a fully staffed IT SME (Subject Matter Expert) support group.  In this article, we provide a summary of the services and benefits a vCIO provides to businesses in the DFW metroplex.

You can read more about the CIS vCIO and Managed vCIO offering in the CIS blog post Managed vCIO Services from CIS.

CIO Role and Functions

In the early days of mainframe computing, a CIO role more favored that of a project manager and/or department (IT) manager than that of an executive.  As Information and Technology increased its contribution to business outcomes, the CIO role evolved from a mid-management role to an executive role.

Today, a CIO role typically provides executive level support, focused on the strategic application of Technology and Information to business. A qualified CIO understands the business functions that IT supports and possesses the relevant experience with designing and implementing IT systems that fully support the business.

Functions and accountabilities of a CIO vary, depending on business structure and needs.  Some common CIO functions and accountabilities:

  • Participate in the development of business goals and strategy in concert with other C level executives
  • Identify IT solutions aligned with business goals and strategy and which optimize business process efficiency
  • Develop and implement IT risk management strategies, accounting for cybersecurity, managing changes to accommodate technology evolution, creating ROI with technology, etc.
  • Define IT staff skills and experience needed to manage and operate an IT system; identify IT skills gaps and develop and implement plans to bridge gaps
  • Identify and maintain IT best practices and implement in business through development and implementation of IT policies and procedures
  • Facilitate/lead routine business strategy reviews


People sometimes refer to a fractional CIO, meaning the role is part-time and shared with other clients.  The fractional CIO performs similar functions as a CIO, but sometimes with reduced scope, tailored to fit specific business needs.

A vCIO functions the same as that of a fractional CIO, except that the vCIO typically performs most duties from a remote location.

Managed vCIO

When you enlist the services of a Managed vCIO, you receive both vCIO services and the services of an entire team of IT experts.  You can customize the range of IT services you contract to suit your business needs and budget.  A Managed vCIO can help you define your best business and IT solutions, identify staffing requirements to meet your IT needs, and provide support for areas where your staff lacks the skills or expertise needed to achieve the desired business results.

How Do I Decide if a Managed vCIO Works for My Company?

Perhaps your SMB can benefit from a Managed vCIO, but you are not sure about the cost/benefit ratio.  The answer if different for every company.  CIS can provide free consultation to help you investigate whether and how a Managed vCIO can help you grow your business and increase efficiency and profit margins.  If implemented properly, use of a Managed vCIO in many cases yields a positive and significant ROI.

CIS has two locations; in Arlington and Addison, and serves all of the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Contact Us today to learn more about how our solutions can work best for your business, or for help getting an ROI on technology.
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