Fractional CIO: Helping SMEs Leverage Technology in the Pursuit of Growth
The saying “work smarter, not harder” rings true when applied to the IT department of almost every small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). Businesses of this size are often hamstrung by a common constraint that makes it vital for them to work smarter: they lack the economies of scale needed to implement dedicated skillsets full-time. But there is a flexible alternative that allows SMEs to work smarter with their resources: a fractional CIO.
All businesses rely on technology to operate and evolve in today’s dynamic business environment. This growth is typically achieved through digital transformation – a rethinking of how an organisation uses technology, people and processes to improve business models. This is an essential process for any business that wants to remain competitive in today’s dynamic digital economy – but it requires collaboration between the C-suite and the rest of the business for it to be a success.
Human resources: the challenges
With their purse strings pulled tight due to a lack of economies of scale, SMEs’ access to the resources and experience needed to harness the power of technology to act as a business enabler is curtailed. A full-time chief information officer (CIO) – the company executive responsible for the management, implementation and usability of information and computer technologies – is beyond some companies’ financial reach, leaving them reliant on the head of their IT department to guide the business strategically from a technology perspective.
They often lack the necessary experience and business acumen needed to bridge the gap between the top and the bottom of the organisation. These limitations also mean the vital process of planning an effective technology roadmap is beyond their capabilities. This results in inefficiencies that drive up costs and limit their ability to meet changing market demands from a technology perspective.
Working smarter with a fractional CIO
A fractional CIO is an experienced, senior technology executive who works in partnership with the entire business – not just the IT department – and considers the interactions of people at every stage of the IT process. Their leadership skills and vision provide the foundation to build a digital strategy that aligns with the business’s goals and leverages technology in the pursuit of growth.
Agility and flexibility are touchstones of successful organisations in the post-pandemic business world. A fractional CIO embodies these attributes by performing the role part-time for SMEs that are positioned to start scaling their business.
Fractional CIOs augment their technical know-how and business acumen with external experience in the same role with other companies across industries. This broad perspective – coupled with their ability to align with the company culture – compliments a business’s internal resources and commands the trust needed to guide stakeholders effectively.
Working in partnership with the entire business they can define, plan, and schedule a technology roadmap that strategically guides the digital transformation, ensuring it’s both resource and cost-effective. With the strategic thinking taken care of – and communicated clearly – the heavy lifting during implementation and beyond can be performed by internal staff. This forward-thinking model not only delivers results; it ensures costs aren’t prohibitive throughout the digital transformation process.
A fractional CIO can engage with the digital strategy by overseeing the creation of a working group that prioritises the digital transformation and ensures it meets business requirements. Handpicked stakeholders from every level of the business are encouraged to collaborate towards achieving this common goal, acting as representatives of the wider organisation. This buy-in fosters a symbiotic relationship between business strategy, requirements, and the technology roadmap that guides the business through operational change toward defined commercial goals.
Transform your IT department
Don’t let your IT department stagnate because of a tight budget. Technology can do more than just support daily operations; it can underpin business goals and drive growth – and unleashing its potential doesn’t have to break the bank. A fractional CIO is a flexible resource that can empower your business to work smarter from a technology and business perspective by providing ongoing strategic guidance, thought leadership, and closing leadership gaps.