You may have heard about shared CIO services – or a “virtual CIO” – and wondered what that is and whether it would help you. How do you know if you would benefit from CIO or CISO services?
For one, a Shared CIO (Chief Information Officer) or Shared CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) doesn’t replace your existing leadership of IT staff. Instead, this position enhances your IT team and your business leadership. This is a consultative person who helps you define a strategy to best use technology and manage cyber risks based on your actual business goals.
CIO services aren’t about installing, monitoring, or fixing your technology. They aren’t meant to directly sell you other services, software, and hardware either.
Instead, a Shared CIO/CISO is a consultant who talks to you and helps guide you through the process of figuring out what technology you truly need… and what you don’t need! If you’re focusing on cybersecurity, a Shared CISO will help you to expand your cybersecurity beyond IT and to develop a cybersecurity program for your organization that covers people and policies, as well as technological tools.
So how do you know if you’re ready to engage with a Shared CIO or CISO? Here are three signs that you need one on call.
#1: You’re not sure you’re getting the most value out of your existing technology environment.
Do you have doubts about whether your IT network and tools are really working for you? Do you need guidance on how to leverage even more functionality? A Shared CIO can sit down with you and help you match your business goals with the technology environment that will best support you in achieving those objectives. This may mean making recommendations for updating or changing your IT environment, or it could be recommendations for taking advantage of features or tools you already have but haven’t completely implemented.
#2: You know you have large-scale IT projects on the horizon and need to ensure the changes support your business objectives.
Big projects are daunting. You know that large IT upgrades or overhauling your system will require financial investment, time commitments, staff training, and a lot of adjustments. If you know you’ll be tackling large-scale IT projects soon, you want to know that those projects will actually support your business objectives. A Shared CIO can work with your IT team to align your IT plan with your business vision or a Shared CISO can advise on how to include cybersecurity measures.
#3: You need to develop security/technology policies to strengthen your organization or meet compliance requirements.
Cybersecurity is possibly the number one IT concern for businesses right now. And the need for improved and strengthened security measures at all levels of your organization is only going to grow. But cybersecurity is also a new area for most organizations, and security experts can be harder to find. If you know that you need to develop a cybersecurity plan for your business – and get it right to meet compliance requirements – then consulting with a Shared CISO can bring security knowledge and guidance to your IT staff.
A CISO who focuses on security may also be a better fit for you than a technology-focused CIO if you already have an IT team.
But is a Shared CIO/CISO a good fit?
Despite these three compelling reasons, there may also be signs that your business isn’t ready yet for Shared CIO or CISO services. A CIO consultant isn’t going to shoulder all of the work and planning for you, because it is a collaborative effort. And likewise, a CISO with a narrower focus on security isn’t meant to build up your IT environment from scratch. So here are three signs that maybe you’re not ready yet for CIO or CISO services:
- You’re not ready to prioritize the work. A Shared CIO will need dedicated time with your business leadership (owners, executives, managers) and your IT director. Will your leadership team devote an hour or so per month to this ongoing conversation? If this work is not a high enough priority to commit to, then you should wait until the right time that fits your schedule and your list of priorities.
- You are behind on basic technology. Before engaging a CISO to focus specifically on cybersecurity, you need a solid technology foundation to work with. That’s a job for a technology-focused CIO, rather than a security consultant. You may want to begin with a network assessment for an overview of your network’s performance and security. If you’re in good shape – proceed! If you find you need to improve performance with hardware upgrades or implement IT management services, you’ll want to proceed with those steps first.
- Your organization’s leadership is not supportive of CIO/CISO services. Not every leader or executive wants a consultant. Any consulting service will be far less valuable without enthusiastic buy-in from your leadership.