Every year Managed Services Platform publishes a report about the state of the vCIO. We summarize the experiences of the largest vCIO community in the world. We’re not just interested in the major trends in the technology space, but how those impacted the vCIO role and responsibilities.
Name and focus
The use of a vCIO or Virtual CIO job title is not as common as we would think. The title has been overused for glorified account management for many low maturity MSPs in the past. Therefore the progressive “real vCIOs” wanted to differentiate themselves. This effort led to many different names of the job such as (Technical) Account Manager, IT Consultant, IT Advisor, and even more recently, the title of Digital Transformation Advisor.
Not only the name seemed to be shift from the ‘technology” narrative, but the role itself expanded with more business functions. Planning, budgeting and architecture have been in the job description for a while, however recently we see more organizational, execution, project portfolio management, application management and business intelligence components are coming to the surface.
As COVID-19 has pushed Digital Transformation initiatives, the IT manager role had to adopt to focus on more business outcomes rather than focusing only the technology deliverables.
In order to avoid misunderstandings, we have summarized client engagement responsibilities in the following quadrants. Because the title doesn’t hold great significance, we are classifying members according to their business-strategic responsibilities. As such, a vCIO’s communication strategy and long term directions should be with client executives through regular Strategy Business Overviews, Technical Landscapes and Strategy Scoreboards.
Another important characteristic of a vCIO job should be as a full-time dedicated professional, who can supply a regular strategic-business communication channel with clients. Without regular communication this strategic focus can be lost, along with the real business goals, which are to increase a tactical line for advancements in technology.
Challenges for small MSPs
Many times the efforts of small MSPs with less than 15-20 employees are in vain because the owner(s), who attend this job, are often neither able to delegate the vCIO role nor do they have enough time to fulfill that role themselves. In our experience, large companies with more than 25-30 employees are able to build a team of several full-time, dedicated professional vCIOs, which can be a human guarantee for the earlier mentioned regular strategic-business communication.
Consequently, the lack of success generates a continuous migration of vCIOs, especially between MSPs with less than 20-25 employees who cannot assign enough resources for building professional vCIO services through proper hiring, continual training and process development methods.
Skills of the job
Commenting on a human guarantee for delivering successful vCIO success services, it is important to note that however the majority of vCIOs (79%) have more than 10 years experience in the managed IT services market, they typically have been in their current positions for less than 5 years. These numbers show two things:
On one side, a significant part of them came from the technical side, which means that they previously held an engineering or support operation position. That’s why they usually designate Information Technology and Engineering as a primary function, Business Development and Sales as a secondary function, followed by Operations and Project Management, and finally, Consultation functions.
However, as a practical matter, these priorities should be in reverse. These numbers reveal why a lot of vCIOs cannot prevail as a business-trusted advisor, as they should be. Such vCIOs can be viewed as simple technical account managers, who are absent of adequate business skills/abilities and who continue their old technical lines of communication in IT infrastructure, network system backups, DRPs, and support ticket reviews.
It’s strange that although we are a software development company we emphasize the human and process factors of successful delivery of vCIO services. This is because we realize that these two factors are at least as important as the right utilization of the right tool. Furthermore, there are prerequisites for any tool utilization fulfillment. This understanding ignited the collaboration with Humanize IT and Digital Maturity Group and the development of new tactical assessments that IT needs with MSP clients, such as remote meeting security risks, cybersecurity, public cloud adoption and application integration.
These three factors: human factors, processes factors, tool factors, are a key component of the profitable vCIO services.
Growth of the community
When we asked our clients about their MRR growth, only 30 percent have expressed experiences with an average growth greater than 20 percent over the years when they used our platform and another 24 percent have expressed experiences with an average MRR growth that ranges between 1 to 10 percent. The gap between these two groups shows that the world economy, including managed services, were increasing before the COVID era and MSPs were able to show a solid growth with low effort.
But the world has got everything upside down with COVID and the aforementioned regular strategic-business communication has become overrated. Due to the current trends, businesses are cutting expenditures, and if an MSP cannot verify and project their real business service values, they will surely lose a significant edge by not being able to adapt to the changing trends.
See previous reports:
- Managed Services Platform vCIO Report 2019
- Reporting vCIOs in the United States of America - 2015
- Reporting vCIOs in Canada - 2015
- Reporting vCIOs in Australia - 2015
- Reporting vCIOs in New Zealand - 2015
If you currently do not have vCIO services, but still intend to implement them in the future, we will be able to support your efforts with an exclusive coaching package and our client meeting report tool as well.