The Rise of CIOaaS (CIO as a Service)

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Innovation is the outcome of a habit, not a random act.” – Sukrant Ratnakar

I know. Everything ends in “aaS” anymore. SaaS. PaaS. IaaS. Why not CIOaaS?

CIO of course stands for Chief Information Officer. CIO’s are business leaders making executive decisions regarding technology, business systems, and business operations. CIO’s strategize. CIO’s plan and budget. CIO’s lead development of roadmaps. They also oversee policy. Often they oversee internal development (think App Dev), vendor selection and management, and internal operations (think Net Ops). CIO’s also lead customer service roles (often customer help desk or call centers). In my experience today’s CIO’s also get more involved in eBusiness and digital opportunities, collaborating with all other executives. We also need to throw in resourcing (staff acquisition and development) and technical training. And that is just the start of the list…

The typical CIO is a full-time senior executive in an enterprise responsible for the Information Technology department supporting the goals of the entire organization. What about smaller organizations however that don’t want, or can’t justify, a full time CIO? They still need some amount of strategic oversight, technical expertise, ongoing advice, executive engagement, and collaborative oversight, right? That is where the role of CIOaaS often comes in.

What is a Fractional CIO?

A Fractional CIO goes by a number of different names or titles:

·        Parachute CIO (my preference, for selfish reasons)

·        Interim CIO

·        vCIO (virtual CIO, often remote)

·        CIO-on-Demand

·        Part-time CIO

·        CIO-on-Call

·        Consulting CIO

·        CIOaaS

A Fractional CIO is the same experienced CIO technology leader, albeit in a part-time or interim role, often for a small or medium-sized business that does not need or cannot afford a full-time executive in the Chief Information Officer role. A Fractional CIO may be engaged for a limited period of time, with a specific tasked focus, or may be retained on an ongoing, recurring basis. In effect, all of the experience, but without all of the associated costs of a full-time CIO.

M&A Roles for a Fractional CIO –

As with traditional CIO’s, a Fractional CIO often helps with Technology Roadmaps, Business Process Improvements, and Business Technology Strategy. However, a Fractional CIO often is available for Private Equity firms during their buying and selling of companies.

During the acquisition phase, a Fractional CIO becomes a trusted member on the diligence team, reviewing and auditing technology, staff, and disciplines of the acquisition target companies. They can also map out technology transformations that may be required, including integration mapping between portfolio companies.

During the divestiture phase, a Fractional CIO helps to review and unwind any portfolio company contracts, safeguarding Private Equity company intellectual property.

Unplanned Turnover Role for a Fractional CIO –

Turnover happens. Unanticipated CIO turnover can leave a company without a technology captain, without someone to steer the ship. An experienced CIO in the role of Fractional CIO can “fly in” as needed to maintain, stabilize, and even assist with interviewing and the selection of the future CIO.  Staff review and staff development can also be accomplished. Having an established, seasoned veteran available on short notice for a temporary role can keep projects moving forward and departments stable.

The Rise of CIOaaS –

“As a service” is probably already overused, and yet it seems like we are just getting starting. A Fractional CIO can assist companies of any size with temporary, interim technology leadership. With the role of the CIO firmly entrenched in large organizations, smaller businesses can leverage the same expertise and leadership in a Fractional CIO, whether a few days a month, or on a project basis, thereby avoiding missing out on the expertise a CIO can bring to the table (or boardroom).

Michael Lehman, MBA, PCIP

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP PROFILE: • Solid General Management Qualifications • Integrated Operations, Finance & IT Leadership • Extensive Retail and Franchise Operations Exposure in Executive Leadership Roles • Deep Project Management Expertise • Track record of driving multi-million dollar top-line improvements I have been at the forefront of both operations and IT strategy for multiple companies, including a specialty retailer with hundreds of franchise outlets across the United States. By addressing market needs and executing strategic projects and global initiatives, my companies have achieved substantial growth through my leadership in technology infrastructure expansion, enabling strong and sustainable market penetration within highly competitive industries. Over my career, I've built a reputation as a strategic and forward-thinking executive that aligns all functional areas of the business and delivers innovative technology solutions that have driven dramatic gains in revenue and overall business growth. Leading teams of over 50 employees and supporting multi-site operations for hundreds of retail locations, I have provided transformative leadership and led change management initiatives that positively impacted profitability.

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