Tech Trends: A view into 2022

View into 2022 tech trends

QuoStar CEO Robert Rutherford looks to the future, sharing his view of what’s going to be big for businesses this year.

Tech trends in 2022.

A shortage of tech talent will widen and rapidly develop the global IT skills market

There is a significant skill shortage in the UK from an IT perspective, which has been coming for some time due to numerous factors. The COVID crisis has certainly added fuel to the fire, as businesses have got used to working effectively with staff and 3rd party suppliers in a digital-only manner.  This will certainly push more and more businesses to outsource parts of IT service, development, and other IT projects to outside partners.

You’ll see many businesses reach overseas to where the talent lies at the perceived right price. However, they are going to have to be extremely careful, especially where service is involved. The management overhead is also often underestimated, both during start up and day to day operations. You really need experienced and proven managers and frameworks to get the overseas play correct. The lure of ‘cheap’ labour always has hidden costs.


Digital First a core strategy

Anything that can be done digitally will be getting real focus in 2022. In any new business and departmental strategy, or project that involves a process or a procedure (most, if not all), a digital solution will gain extra weight by default. This is going to be driven by a need to improve efficiency, margin, and security, whilst also improving the user or customer experience. Of course, a digital first strategy doesn’t mean that every operation and interaction must be digitised, but it must be considered.

It is important that digitisation isn’t viewed as simply purchasing technology to solve problems. It’s about understanding the operations and processes (systems) within a business operation and choosing the right technological change or transformation to achieve a business result that is both measurable and positive. This is certainly going to lead to a board having to really get to grips with the strategic use of IT, whilst also bringing in senior IT professionals, such as a CIO, into the core of the business decision making process.


CRM technologies and their uptake will develop quickly

CRM growth has been ramping over the last few years due to customers’ service demands and expectations. Again, due to COVID, the expectation for rapid and effective service in a personalised manner has increased. The fact that most markets have in effect got smaller due to globalisation, businesses are going to need to do more to mine and utilise their data to compete and hold market-share.

It should be noted that CRM is not simply an IT project. It’s really an organisational transformation piece that involves most of the business, and it can take a year or more to even begin to realise the true value it can deliver. Too many businesses have been flying out to ‘buy’ a CRM post-COVID, which will typically lead to a failed ‘business’ project.


Automation will become essential

Due to skills shortages and growing competition, businesses are going to need to get leaner and smarter in how their operations and services are delivered. AI and other technologies are certainly going to help, however businesses do need to take responsibility for truly understanding, mapping and measuring their processes. This is where organisations can protect, as well as increase their margins, plus improve employee and client satisfaction.

You are certainly going to see process improvement and automation come down into the small and mid-market, as margins get squeezed, as the world effect becomes smaller, and as the pace of change ramps – fuelled again by COVID. The demand for systems and business analysts is certainly going to rise, but again the UK is significantly disadvantaged due to a lack of strategy from successive governments. Businesses are often going to need to train and develop their own talent to deliver initial and ongoing value.


Improvement in the User Experience

Many industries have been really let down by their main Line of Business vendors, in terms of the Customer Experience (CX), support and product development. This is going to create real friction points due to the more fractured way of working. Software vendors and those providing services to customers online are really going to have to work hard to ensure their products and service offerings better fit the new working model, in terms of the user’s experience.

Businesses are also going to have to consider how easy it is for their staff to complete their duties, especially when working in a remote manner. Are they really as effective as they should be? Is their working experience acceptable? Can they get support when they need it, i.e. 24x7x365? There is a growing trend of staff leaving businesses where they feel the technology and support overlays are holding them back.


Cloud workloads move around

There’s been a rush to the cloud prior, and during the pandemic, particularly the public cloud, and predominately Microsoft Azure for day-to-day operations infrastructure and systems. However, the cloud markets move extremely quickly, and a single infrastructure doesn’t fit all workloads, in terms of functionality, security, performance, interoperability and price. The market is pushing private and public vendors to compete within these areas and thus splitting workloads between public and private cloud. A true hyper-connected hybrid model will typically deliver organisations the best value going forward, right now and ongoing.

 The rise of cloud multi-platform management, automation tools and the competitive landscape continues to drive innovation and creates specialist vendors and cloud providers. It’s continually becoming simpler to run, manage and migrate between different cloud vendors and platforms with ease. The shift is certainly empowering and aiding the customer. You’ll certainly see more workloads (not entire infrastructures) reverse out of the large public cloud providers into niche players who can deliver greater support, performance, and operational value to specific sectors.


ZTNA becomes the focus

The rapid escalation of remote working has dramatically increased the risk profile of a large percentage of operations. This will rapidly move the focus and ramp adoption of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) – the Gartner coined term to enable greater control and security of network access.

Traditional VPN type connections are clunky and can be slow, they also consume significant resources, in terms of equipment and management overheads. Organisations will look to ZTNA to improve the granularity of control of their remote workforces’ access to corporate systems, whilst also simplifying it through ABAC (Attribute Based Access Control) and RBAC (Role Based Access Control). There’s too much to go into here but the rise of cybercrime led by organised gangs focused on monetary rewards means that every door must be locked shut, whilst also not hampering the user experience.


Cyber security becomes board’s problem

Many leadership teams have had some experience of cyber security, due to experiencing a painful incident or perhaps implementing Cyber Essentials (the very basics). However, due to the risk landscape being so huge, and the impact of a security incident being so great, boards are going to have to take the reins on risk management from a cyber security perspective. They are going to have to fully understand risks and controls, thus expect to see a ramp in the demand for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS’s) and the experience of a CISO.

If a board doesn’t insist on an ISMS to ensure that Information Security is managed appropriately then in reality, they are being negligent; regulators know that, as do customers and insurers. No longer can the board leave Information Security to the IT team, they are going to have to take direct responsibility for some of the largest risks their businesses face.


If you’d like to discuss improving your business IT in 2022 get in touch here. 


Being a CISO in 2021 – our Head of Security David Clarke

Our Head of Security, and CISO Service lead, David is recognised as one of the Top 10 influencers by Thompson Reuters, and a Top 50 global expert by Kingston Technology. He is also one of the Top 30 most influential thought-leaders and thinkers on social media in risk management, compliance, and regtech in the UK.


In his role as Head of Security at QuoStar, David leads the CISO Service. The CISO service provides businesses with the cyber-security skills and experience necessary to manage the multitude of threats and rapidly changing risk landscape of today, on a flexible and cost-efficient basis. David take’s a moment to share his views on it all.


1. How did you get started in the security field and ultimately become a CISO?

David: I was around when some of the first Viruses went mainstream. Back then I worked for one of the only companies that made Multi Factor Authentication systems in the 90’s. It was “leading edge” at the time.

I built and ran one of the largest commercial remote access platforms using Multi Factor Authentication.  Then I ran Infosec for some FTSE 100 companies, one of which was the largest private trading network in the world – trading 3.5 trillion dollars a day.  Another was managing Global Security Services Operations Centres (24/7) across 4 continents, where most of the customers were FTSE 250.


2. What do you enjoy most about working as a CISO Service resource/consultant?

David: Meeting challenges of audit, due diligence, and breach management.

Audit is getting more involved and complex and due diligence is often 300-400 questions and an “interview” with the compliance department of potential customers.

Breaches is about managing with around 10% knowledge of the situation and making decisions in a very short time for the best outcomes – while ensuring buy in from the board. They always seem to happen on Friday evening!


3. As Head of  Security, what challenges or issues do you regularly see in small and mid-market businesses? Why do you think the same issues keep occurring?

David: 1. Robust management of access and privilege management. 2. Managing risk consistently. 3. Not aligning Cyber Security with Data protection requirements – as they overlap at a core level.

If you have control of the information assets servers and cloud, information security is much easier to manage. It enables savings in resource and effort if this happens and can demonstrate to the business control and improvement.


4. How do you think the security landscape has changed in the last five to ten years?

David:  As a CISO Service lead, I believe it is manging the hybrid of internal servers and cloud – and managing the challenge of access control. The company boundary is very fluid, especially where ‘what’s company and what’s personal’ is concerned.

One of the best frameworks is ISO27001. It is good for demonstrating accountability and decision making. It also aligns with SOC2 and parts of HIPAA quite well.


5. What do you think will be the emerging risks businesses need to consider in the next 1-2 years?

David: It used to be technology first, then followed by making technology safe and compliant. Now technology needs to be safe and compliant first, and performance orientated second – along the lines of what has happened in the automotive, aerospace, building and food industries.

The risks potentially surround the technology itself not having enough security management capability, or that if it does it can be resource intensive.  There’s also the globalisation of threat actors and the capability of managing multiple global data protection regulations.

More recently the US Biden government issued a memo to US Businesses in summary June 2, Stating the 5 best practices – one being Multi Factor Authentication. Other important aspects are multi-pronged backup Updates, Incident Response, external testing and network segmentation.


6. Has the Covid pandemic exacerbated security concerns or introduced new ones for businesses to deal with?

David: Probably, due to homeworking and fast transformations of moving office servers to the cloud, as well as an increase in Ransomware attacks, an increase in Data Protection legislation globally and the increase in corporate security concerns due diligence.

It has been an increasing challenge for a Head of Security. We have seen an increase in demand from due diligence enquiries, especially for more detailed homeworking policies and guidelines. So, the lines have blurred as to what is home device or a work device. The “physical office” is now the home office, and mandating rules now have to be guidelines that are appropriate – as well as using more layers of defence to protect staff and corporate assets.


7. Do you think businesses focus too much on the technical/technology element of security (e.g. AI solutions)? What other areas do they need to consider?

David: Potentially yes, without an end-to-end strategy, it makes security technology “tactics” unlikely to see a ROI, Return on Investment.

As Head of Security, I see the human element of security is also overlooked quite often. Especially when you consider that almost half of all security breaches are caused by human error. This is even more disconcerting when you consider that only 60% of employees will report a security breach too.

We are actually hosting a free webinar on that subject on 29th July 2021 at 1pm, so if you’d like to know more register for free.


8. How important is cyber-security education? What are the challenges for a Head of Security conveying the risk/educating business? Who in the business needs to receive education/training and how often?

Education is very important, as is having the appropriate training for each role ideally aligned to the companies risks – so that maximum benefits can be realised e.g. developers would require different training from HR staff, as the risk they are managing are different.

Of course, there will always be a need for baseline cyber and data protection training. You can find out more about what Security Awareness Training there is available for employers and employees in our article here.


9. Do you feel there is a security skills/talent shortage? What advice would you give to businesses to combat this?

David: I’m not entirely sure. If there is a shortage, there is definitely a misunderstanding of what skills are required.

Personally, I would align the risks and the strategy, then decide what skills are required to make it happen. It may be that companies would benefit from outside help – to formulate the strategy, and always have access to a range of skill levels onboard to achieve skills resilience.

The other issues that many companies seem to come up against are 24/7 and global, so having just one capable Security resource will not be enough to cover these time periods.


10. As Head of Security, what advice would you give to businesses who want to reduce risk and increase their security posture?

David: Manage Risk regularly with key stakeholders.

Ideally do not remove a risk or lower a risk without evidence, from at least the following e.g. a Policy, Procedure, Penetration test, Internal Audit, External Audit or risk committee approval. This will demonstrate accountability and assist in managing data protection, to enable a defensible position in the security posture.

Ensure a multi-layer approach to security. Utilise things like Access control, least privilege, Approved applications, strong email defences, layered endpoint security, centralised control of endpoints and access, plus multiple point backups.


11. If there was one security investment you could recommend to businesses what would it be and why?


One piece of tech most companies aren’t using

To keep companies ahead, Secure Access Service Edge will help with Cyber security and Data Protection. The ROI is great! It releases staff time, and the payback can be in months.

 One Framework

You can manage risk and accountability using ISO27001 framework. If you are not going to be certified, ISO27001 also helps align with NIST, SOC-2 and can help align some components of Data protection. It can clearly demonstrate accountability.

Training that is focused to the role in the business is most appropriate, using the “Incident” metrics to tailor training and technology requirements.

 One practice
Have a data/Cyber champion in every business function so you’re able to manage threats, risk and increase incident reporting capability to enable “real-time” issue management.


We hope you found David’s current take on Cyber-Security insightful. During his career David has worked across multiple sectors, including financial services, government, utilities and FinTech, working with a variety of clients – from start-up level and SME up to FTSE 100. He previously held the role of Global Head of IT Security at BT and Radianz (formally Reuters). He’s also been responsible for managing the security infrastructure and delivery of ISO 27001 for multi-billion/trillion-dollar environments. He is also an active CISO consultant on our CISO service offering.

Find out more about how to improve security within your business by signing up for David’s free webinar The Important Role Your People Play in Cyber-Security  on Thursday 29th July at 1pm.


Book an online review with QuoStar’s consultancy team today.


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How to find the best CIO Solution for your organisation.

IT Strategy: How to decide which CIO Solution is right for your business?


Having a CIO-level professional on your board is the first step to treating IT as a strategic asset rather than a cost. Question is, full time, interim or virtual CIO?

IT is no different from any other business-critical area. You know a transformational IT roadmap will bring significant operational and financial benefits, but you need a professional with the right skillset to pull it all together. It needs a strategy, leadership, and ongoing management if you want to achieve measurable returns and competitive advantage. A CIO – but do you need that position filled in-house or with a virtual CIO?

A CIO (Chief Information Officer) is usually the most senior technology executive inside a business. They hold responsibility for the IT strategy and determine areas for improvement and development within the IT systems and processes. A commercial mindset, extensive experience as well as a deep understanding experience of technology and its application, is necessary for a CIO. 

A CIO will focus on IT strategy and leadership, ensuring that IT is aligned with business goals.

Unlike an IT Manager, a CIO is more outward-facing. They will focus on IT strategy and leadership, ensuring that IT is aligned with business goals and works in unison with the overall business strategy. However, as the CIO is often the executive level interface between the IT department and the rest of the business, they need to keep abreast of day-to-day operations and issues. Any IT projects will likely be owned by the CIO, and they will be accountable for signing off on the solution and the implementation. They will ultimately be responsible for the project’s success, outcomes, and ultimately the ROI. A good CIO can see past emerging technology hype.

Many businesses assume that the only way to gain access to a CIO’s knowledge and experience is a permanent hire. While this is certainly one option, it can be costly and unnecessary for your current needs. If you’re flying blind how will you know they really are as experienced in the field as you require? There are alternatives available that may be a better fit for you. 

We explore four different ways businesses can fill the CIO role: Full-time Permanent CIO, Interim CIO, Virtual CIO and a CIO service. We look at pros and cons of each to help you with the decision-making process.

The 4 types of CIO you could hire

Discussing Information Officer needs

1. Full-time, permanent CIO

A full time permanent hire CIO is an experienced technology leader who sits within the business at board level, with full time generally meaning 40+ hour week for most – and doesn’t come cheap.

What are the benefits of hiring a full-time CIO?

  • Dedicated and experienced IT leadership at board level
  • Effective IT strategy that works in unison with the business strategy
  • Removes the load from senior leadership, allowing focus on their expert areas of the business
  • Delivery of operational improvements and a measurable return – they’ll advise on the right investments
  • Significantly reduces the likelihood of poor project outcomes, disruption and disgruntled staff.
  • Enables businesses to address and manage risk more effectively
  • Awareness of evolving threats, as well as changes in the commercial landscape
  • Gives a competitive edge, allowing the business to mitigate risk and capitalise on opportunities their competitors may be unaware of. 

What are the disadvantages of hiring a full-time CIO?

  • The CIO skillset is in high demand – these senior professionals can pick and choose their roles to some extent 
  • The specialist knowledge makes a CIO an expensive hire. (Average salaries are around £141,000 but can be upwards of £200,000)
  • If this is the first CIO a business has hired, then senior leadership may be unsure of what they need.
  • Difficulties assessing candidates’ experience and whether it aligns with business needs only serve to make the process even longer  
  • Mid-market businesses may not have the requirements for a full-time CIO
  • Although the strategic direction and commercial focus will undoubtedly be of benefit, a less complex IT environment and a lower capacity for projects could mean a limited scope for change  
  • Research shows that CIO tenures are short, with an average of just 4.3 years – making them the shortest-tenured C-suite exec
  • Two-year stints aren’t uncommon as CIOs often want new challenges and the opportunity to deliver real change.
  • A full-time CIO may turn out to be a very expensive, short-term hire. You might find yourself stuck in what feels like a constant recruitment cycle. 



2. Interim CIO

Also known as a Contract CIO, an Interim CIO is an experienced technology leader who temporarily fills the CIO role.  The average tenure is between six months to two years and an Interim CIO is usually bought in to tackle a specific challenge while the business transitions between permanent CIOs. However, they are also sometimes hired to support and mentor a newly hired or promoted CIO. 

An Interim CIO’s role typically falls into one of two camps:

  1. Responsible for building corporate resilience so the business can maintain a competitive advantage. Essentially keeping the lights on.
  2. A transformational role, tasked with formulating a strategic plan and executing it. 

What are the benefits of an Interim CIO?

  • Quicker to hire – a benefit for businesses in ‘crisis mode’ who cannot afford to wait to make a permanent hire
  • A benefit to time-sensitive projects (such as an M&A) and need for immediate access to the skillset
  • Their laser focus on a specific project or business area allows Interim CIOs to add immediate value
  • A dedicated, experienced professional driving an initiative increases the likelihood of that project remaining on track and delivering expected outcomes
  • A rich and varied CV can make Interim CIOs valuable mentors
  • Experience across multiple industries, business types and environments. They will have seen a multitude of scenarios and challenges – knowledge that can aid the IT department
  • Can help senior leadership make better IT-related decisions 

What are the disadvantages of an Interim CIO?

  • Interim CIOs are an expensive hire
  • They are in high demand, and with a limited number of professionals available, they can cherry-pick their projects
  • An Interim CIO is only going to be available for a set period, so there may be limits as to what can be accomplished in that time 
  • Businesses will need to define a clear objective for the engagement and a fixed schedule for delivery
  • Existing problems in the business environment may affect the success of delivery
  • Long-term or chronic underinvestment in the IT environment, problems left behind by predecessors, or a need for overall business transformation can all affect project delivery 
  • An Interim CIO will need to quickly get up to speed with the organisation structure and technology portfolio, and quickly win round and influence key team members to ensure objectives are met. (of course, it’s not impossible, but the senior leadership team need to be confident in their hire). 


Hire a virtual CIO (vCIO)

3. Virtual CIO

Virtual CIO (vCIO)also known as a fractional CIO, provides consultation on IT and technology strategy as a third party. Compared to full-time and Interim CIOs, who take an active role in company operations, the vCIO is often an advisory role.  

They will have similar responsibilities to an in-house CIO, but the core difference is that the service is delivered virtually. You may not meet your Virtual CIO and there could be multiple people working on the business at different times, depending on the structure of service. 

What are the benefits of a Virtual CIO?

  • A vCIO Service offers significant cost savings compared to hiring internally
  • Most services are offered at an hourly rate or flat fee, making it easy to budget and account for
  • With a vCIO you will have someone dedicated to strategic IT management, even if its on a limited basis 
  • A good starting point for companies new to the strategic approach
  • Will be better than people within the business spending a few hours here and there trying to make improvements. 

What are the disadvantages of a Virtual CIO?

  • Virtual CIO Services focus more on the improvement of day-to-day operations, rather than long-term strategic planning, management and innovation  
  • A vCIO typically works across multiple businesses, so may not be as readily available to deal with issues that arise
  • Businesses which are tech-heavy or very reliant on technology will probably need a more heavyweight and involved resource 
  • As a virtual service, you may have little to no ‘face time’ with your CIO
  • It may be difficult to build trust as the CIO may feel disconnected from the business, affecting results delivery
  • Depending on the provider you have chosen, you may also need to factor in time zone and cultural differences. 


4. The CIO Service – a better alternative for the mid-market… 

You may feel that a virtual CIO wont deliver the expertise and attention needed to achieve measurable outcomes – but you also don’t have the resources or requirements to justify a full-time hire, and an interim CIO just won’t do.

Often, it’s not operationally or commercially viable for mid-sized organisations to have a full-time senior internal IT professional. However, access to professional IT management expertise and skills offers a competitive advantage.  With the right management, IT can improve the business’s bottom line, aid client engagement and service delivery, and improve staff retention.

Luckily there is a fourth alternative that bridges the gap, while still delivering tangible value on a cost-effective and flexible basis – a CIO Service.

QuoStar’s CIO Service has been specifically designed to provide mid-market businesses with the strategic IT leadership necessary to deliver the benefits of a full-time CIO but without the significant costs.  

What are the benefits of a CIO Service?

  • Harness the transformational potential of IT
  • Enables access to the skills, expertise and commercial acumen of a CIO-level consultant
  • Flexible and cost-efficient
  • Supports organisations throughout their entire IT transformation journey; from evaluating current standing and areas for improvement, through to building and implementing a roadmap and change plans.

Our QuoStar CIO Service offers

  • Proven, seasoned sector-specific CIOs with a combined 60+ years’ experience 
  • A proven methodology and framework to deliver a strategy and transformation 
  • Completely embedded within your organisation – one of the team 
  • Guaranteed results backed by our Outcome Assured™ promise 
  • Delivering measurable outcomes for businesses just like yours!

Hear how Blanchards Bailey have benefited from using the QuoStar CIO Service here.


Get more from your IT with a strategy, on-demand CIO-level Consultant: We help businesses to us IT to gain security, stability and a competitive advantage in a rapidly developing marketplace. Click here to find out more.


How to get the Board engaged in IT: An IT Manager’s guide

How to get the board engaged in IT

If you’ve ever had to request budget from the board or tried to get buy-in for an IT project, you will know how difficult it can be to get the board engaged with IT. Despite the critical role IT plays in operations, too many senior executives still see it solely as a cost to the business rather than as a competitive advantage.

Research shows that regular conversations between IT and the board actually decreases IT and cyber risk, while increasing innovation and IT project ROI. These achievements improve the more frequently the conversations occur. Conversations that occur every quarter hold more value than those held bi-annually or annually.




However, getting these conversations to happen in the first place is often the most difficult part. IT Managers can struggle to get their voice heard at board level and IT often does not feature on the agenda as often as it should. Part of the problem is this often requires a change in culture, but the good news is IT Managers can facilitate this by framing their conversations with the board in the right way.

3 strategies to engage the Board of Directors with IT

Most organisations spend a significant portion of their revenue on their IT, so they need to be sure that it is being invested wisely and delivers a return for the business.

This can only happen when senior executives fully embrace the potential of IT and view it as a strategic asset. While it’s important that IT has a voice at board level, the conversations themselves need to be effective too. We’ve compiled three best practice tips to help IT Managers frame the conversation in a way the board will engage with.

IT Managers should make technology a routine part of the conversation

1. Make Technology a Routine Part of Conversation

IT Managers need to think strategically about how they can navigate technology conversations with the board. Assess the levels of technical knowledge and understanding to determine whether an educational component is required and build conversations accordingly.

Some members of the board may be more technologically-savvy or be more. Identify these allies and build relationships with them as they can help you garner support for IT investment and focus from other members of the board.

Consistent communication is key so ensure IT features as standing item on the agenda or designate regular meetings where you can focus solely on IT. Strike the balance between protection and growth and build a narrative which focuses on the short term (6-12 months) and the long-term (5+ years).

Any conversations about long-term strategic planning should be a collaborative effort. IT Managers should be fully briefed on the intended strategic direction of the business so they can educate the board about the relevant risks, opportunities, and industry changes, ensuring the IT strategy supports the business objectives and the budget is allocated effectively.

IT Managers should demonstrate the strategic value of IT

2. Demonstrate the business value of strategic IT investment

You will need to make the case for IT investment, so be prepared to convey the financial, operational and reputational benefits. Back your pitches with data and present the information clearly and concisely e.g., by utilising dashboards and scorecards.

You may need to ‘connect the dots’ and give context to the risks facing the business. If board members do not understand the mitigating effects of benefits a particular solution or service will deliver, they may not be willing to allocate the funds. For example, data security might be a concern for the board, but they may not understand why the business is a target, where they are vulnerable, the effects a successful attack can have and how it can be prevented. Take into context the board’s own appetite for risk and align your recommendations and scorecards to reflect this.

Budgets can vary widely so you may wish to present a shortlist of options to the board. However, if you do decide to do this you need to ensure the board is fully aware of the limitations of each one, so they do not decide based purely on flat costs.

IT Managers should focus the conversation on the right topics

3. Focus the conversation on the right topics

Try not to get bogged down in the technical detail during conversations with the board. It’s unlikely that their level of technical knowledge will match your own, so they will be less likely to engage if it doesn’t seem directly relevant to the business. Instead, focus the conversations on the potential impact and deliverables of IT.


Ensure that the board understand how IT can positively or negatively impact the performance of the business.

  • Financial – Link technology investments to financial performance such as profitability, margin and revenue. Demonstrating the positive impact can help the board see IT as more than an operational cost.
  • Operational – Demonstrate how IT can improve the efficiency of operations and free up budget for innovation and business transformation. This may include things like automating processes, replacing legacy systems, and embracing cloud services. IT Managers can support this process by measuring, reporting, and discussing the impact of technology-driven business transformation.


Ensure the board keeps up to date with current and emerging threats, be it cyber-attacks or disruptive technologies. IT Managers can help develop the risk appetite and measures to prevent unnecessary risks from being taken. IT and Business must be wholly aligned on risk appetite levels to ensure neither side make inappropriate risk management decisions.

  • Cyber Risk – Businesses must be able to protect their assets from cyber-attacks if they want to achieve strategic goals. IT Managers have the responsibility to educate the board on current and emerging risks, the potential threat to the business and remedial actions.
  • Regulations – Technology can help businesses comply with regulations, but it also the subject of regulations itself – such as data privacy. Boards need to be aware of how technology can speed the process of meeting compliance policies, as well as where regulations may require additional investment or affect company priorities. Conversations should focus on the positive and negative implications of the regulations, the opportunities for rationalisation and any other business impacts.
  • Industry Challenges – New technologies can topple a company’s competitive position and business models. Help board members understand the risks and opportunities of technology-driven industry disruption to ensure the business doesn’t fall behind.


IT Managers should help guide the overall business strategy by educating board members on the strategic potential of IT and other disruptive technologies

  • Innovation – IT Managers can help create a bolder risk appetite by demonstrating how the effective use of technology can result in business growth. Successful innovation requires a culture of continual incremental improvements. Boards need to give IT Manager the opportunities to test, experiment and analyse.
  • Data – Help the board understand how technologies such as machine learning, natural language engines and AI, can help businesses better collect, process, and analyse customer data. Highlight how this data be used for more effective decision making and monetised for business success.
  • Client Experience – Customer demands are constantly changing and increasing. Businesses need to keep pace with this is they want to both attract new customer and retain their existing ones. Service levels are a key battleground. As service levels increase across all industries, tolerance levels have declined, and customers are no longer prepared to accept reduced levels out of brand loyalty. IT Managers can help the board meet these challenges by showing how to leverage technology to proactively anticipate and address customer needs. These conversations can help ensure the pace of technology change aligns with customer readiness.

Strategic development for IT Managers

IT Managers have a huge wealth of technical experience and understanding, so it makes sense why they are often heavily focused on the technical details.

This knowledge is highly valuable to a business, but it doesn’t always translate to the board. If they do not understand, they will not engage. They need to see the business benefits of investing in IT. Requesting budget to replace an old server, for example, is not enough. However, if you explain that the new server will help increase resilience, availability, and network performance, and enable employees to deliver faster customer service, the board can begin to understand the ROI of that investment.

If you’re used to focusing on the technical details, then framing conversations in this way can feel a little uncomfortable initially. IT Managers who want to take a more strategic standpoint should seek out additional training and mentorship from experienced CIOs and IT Consultants. A dedicated Coach can give IT Managers advice and direction, provide education (where required), share knowledge and best practice, help develop a commercial mindset, and talk through challenges faced by the business and how to overcome them.

Book a free, online discovery session today to find out more about QuoStar’s IT Coaching & Mentorship Service and see how a dedicated Coach can support you.

Training & Mentorship: Learn how to train a business-focused approach to IT Management. Book a free discovery call to find out how a dedicated coach can help you to achieve better buy-in from the board and increase your IT budgets. Click here to book now

IT Risk Management: The board of directors’ strategic role in managing IT risk

IT Strategy: The strategic role of the board in IT risk management

We all know that IT brings a wealth of benefits to any business. From allowing employees to work more effectively and supporting better collaboration and communication, through to enhancing service delivering and increasing customer satisfaction. Technology is now involved, in some part, in almost every area of operations and critical process – regardless of the sector or size. 

However, the more entwined IT is with the business, the greater the potential exposure to IT risk. These types of risks can have a catastrophic impact, so it is vital that businesses identify IT risks, take steps to control them, and develop a robust response plan in the event of an IT-related crisis

What is IT risk management?

IT risk management is the policies, procedures, and technologies a company uses to protect their business from threats and mitigate their impact. It is essentially focused on reducing technology vulnerabilities which can affect the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of systems and data.  

By identifying and evaluating potential IT risks, businesses can be better prepared for potential threats, minimise the impact of an incident and recover faster should something happen. Managing IT risk also helps guide further strategic planning by ensuring risks which may impact the business achieving its goals and objectives are identified and controlled effectively.  

What are some examples of IT risk?

Threats to your IT environment can occur internally or externally, and they can be unintentional or deliberate. The potential risks are numerous, but can typically be broken down into the following categories 

  • Physical Threats: As a result of physical access or damage to IT resources. This could include theft, fire or flood damage, natural disasters, extreme weather, or unauthorised access to confidential data – either internally or externally.  
  • Security Threats: Where cyber-criminals or other malicious actors attempt to compromise your business. This could include computer viruses, malware, ransomware, phishing/vishing, business email compromise (BEC), and or other targeted attacks. Or it could involve the business, or an employee, falling victim to a fraudulent website or email. 
  • Technical Failures: Such as software bugs, unpatched software, system weaknesses, computer crashes or complete failure of a core piece of infrastructure. Technical failures can be catastrophic, for example, if a hard drive was corrupted and there was no way to retrieve the data. This could also include legacy technology which is difficult and expensive to maintain. 
  • IT Management Failures: Where a company fails to embrace new technologies or methods of working, which result in lost opportunities and reduced productivity and efficiencies. It could also include failing to deploy new software releases or updates, leaving the company open to bugs or security flaws which could be exploited by cyber-criminals. 
  • Infrastructure Failures: This could include things like the loss of your internet or telephone connection. 
  • Human Error: Such as an employee accidentally deleting important data, failing to follow security procedures properly, or losing a corporate device.  
  • Supply Chain Error: The disruption of critical IT processes outsourced to IT service providers and vendors. 
  • Operational Risk: The risk of technological failures disrupting core business processes. 
  • Compliance Failure: The failure to comply with industry or geographical regulations (e.g. GDPR) or regulatory bodies (e.g. the FCA, ICO) 

Board accountability for IT risk management

Why does the board of directors need to be involved with IT risk management?

It’s understandable why businesses may think that IT risk management is the sole responsibility of the IT department. It is risks related to the use of technology. Technology typically falls under the IT department, therefore, that’s where IT risk management also lies.  

Yet, technology isn’t the whole story.  

A simple technical failure, such as the email system going down, can affect multiple teams across the business as well as clients and prospective clients. Depending on the length of downtime, this can result in lost productivity, lost revenue, and reputational damage. All of which will be reflected in the bottom line.   

IT risk affects the whole business. Not just BAU operations, but the long-term goals and objectives. This risk must be considered and evaluated when determining the strategic direction of the business, which is why it is essential that the board of directors take ultimate accountability for it. 

The IT department should certainly be involved in the process, as they will have a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the technical risks and the changing landscape, but it’s essential that the board understand the commercial impact as well. They need to know what the IT risks are, what the potential impact is, and the likelihood of that risk occurring, in the context of the business environment 

Only with this information can effective planning and resource allocation take place. Personnel may need to be allocated to undertake projects to address certain risks. The budget may need to be redistributed, allocated, or increased to take mitigating actions. It all depends on the board’s appetite for risk, but again, this tolerance level can only be determined with a complete and clear understanding of all the risks.  

Of course, this is not to say that board members need to involve themselves in the minutiae of day-to-day monitoring. Everyone within a business has a role to play when it comes to successful IT risk management. Once the risks have been identified, categorised, and catalogued, responsibility can then be cascaded to senior personnel. They would then hold responsibility for identifying plans to mitigate that risk, and regular monitoring.  

However, IT risk management should be a standing item on the board agenda. This is not an item which can be ticked off the to-do list. It is an item which needs to be reviewed and re-evaluated periodically. The rapid pace of change in the technology and business landscape means not only do the identified risks change, but there are new ones to review. There will be new technology to consider, which comes with its own complex risks. The context in which you evaluate these risks will also change as your business develops. What was once a high risk may become lower, or vice versa. As businesses are required to be more agile in practice and operation, so must they be too when it comes to IT risk management.  

Taking accountability for risk

IT risk management is a business investment. One which will help companies safeguard their ability to achieve their long-term goals. It requires commitment at board level and continual review. The pace of change in the IT landscape is so rapid that not only are their new risks developing all the time, but there is the risk that the business will be disrupted if it does not take advantage of opportunities. 

The process requires a blend of strong IT and commercial expertise, as the board will need to strike a delicate balance when it comes to risk appetite. An extremely high tolerance could put the business in harm’s way with unnecessary risk from being on the ‘bleeding edge’. On the other hand, extreme risk aversion can stifle innovation and development, leaving the business lagging in the market and missing out on opportunities.  

Boards should not be afraid to seek external counsel from a CIO-level Consultant to manage this process. Even where a business has an internal IT resource, a CIO can provide additional expertise. For example, translating the technical risk identified by IT into commercial terms for the board and assessing the impact on business strategy.  

Get more from your IT with a strategy, on-demand CIO-level Consultant: We help businesses to us IT to gain security, stability and a competitive advantage in a rapidly developing marketplace. Click here to find out more.

9 essential cyber-security measures every business needs

essential cyber-security measures for businesses

What are the essential cyber-security measures every business needs?

In today’s digital era, advancements in technology are happening very rapidly. Therefore our defence systems against very real cyber-security threats must keep pace. If the correct measures aren’t taken, your business might be more at risk than you think. Here are 9 essential cyber-security measures your business can take.

Are you relying on the same security basics you were a few years ago?

It’s easy for time to pass unnoticed while all these advancements happen around us. Before you know it, you’re relying on the same old security basics to protect your business as you were a few years ago – firewalls, antivirus and intrusion detection software. Most people update their mobile phone software more frequently than that. So here are our 9 recommendations on how to keep your company more secure.

Why is it so important?

The truth is, we all feel impervious to cyber-crime and security breaches. It’s just something that happens to other people – until one day it’s not. Even if a direct financial attack is not a concern for a business because that’s locked down, many people are unaware of the intrinsic value of the data their business holds in today’s world.

Hackers aren’t just after your bank accounts.

Cyber-crime is now an industry that produces over £1 trillion in revenue for cyber-criminals. Ransomware can be used to encrypt a company’s files and hold them for ransom. Network penetration can enable mass data theft and crypto-jacking to harvest crypto-currencies by stealing your machine’s processing power. Money can even be gained by using social engineering to persuade employees to transfer cash to a fake bank account.

9 steps to combatting cyber-threats

1. A Unified Threat Management (UTM) system

A UTM system is a combination of security appliances and acts as your gateway to the internet.

2. A SPAM filter

A Spam Filter tops potentially malicious files from entering your network via email.

3. Antivirus/anti-malware software

Antivirus and Anti-malware are applications that protect your servers, laptops and other devices from malware.

4. A patch management system

A Patch Management System manages the installation of software updates to close security holes.

5. 2-Factor authentication

2-Factor Authentication gives you a second level of security, preventing unauthorised sign-ins.

6. Device encryption

Device Encryption makes any data stored on the machine useless to criminals and keeps your data secret.

7. A regular data backup

Regular data backups. You should keep a copy of your business data at a secure off-site location in case the original is lost.

8. Content filtering

Content filtering prevents access to dangerous or illegal websites which reduces the risk of infection.

9. A disaster recovery plan

A Disaster Recovery Plan sets out how you will recover from an unplanned event such as a fire or cyber-attack.


Regulatory fines and costly lawsuits sting victims of cyber-crime too.

Keeping businesses cyber-secure is even more important since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR – tailored by the Data Protection Act 2018). Businesses are responsible for their data leaks or breaches if the correct security protections/protocols have not been put in place. Hefty regulatory fines can be levied, and costly lawsuits can follow for the victims of a cyber-attack or security breach.

All businesses should ideally be looking into taking more than just the bare minimum steps to keeping the company cyber-secure, but it’s at least these 9 steps that start the journey in the right direction. The next step beyond the basics is to become Cyber Essential certified.

Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed Accreditation

Cyber Essentials is a government-backed accreditation that acts as a way to understand where your security succeeds and where it needs improvement. It’s similar to a cyber-security audit and allows you to see what your next steps in improving security will be.

Cyber Essentials still covers fairly basic security concepts, such as having the ability to remotely wipe devices, application whitelisting, daily virus scans and the disabling of OS utilities. All of which are simple things that you should already have in place. But it’s well worth going through the accreditation process if you haven’t already – it can improve your company’s image as well as open you up to working with more cyber-conscious clients.

If you want some help implementing the basics, or would just like some friendly advice, contact our team today.

I’ve already met the security basics, but I want to level up >>

The Top 5 Strategic IT Trends for 2021: How will professional service firms use IT this year?

The top 5 strategic IT trends for professional service firms in 2021

In 2020 we certainly saw IT move into the heart of operations. The COVID-19 pandemic saw swathes of professional service firms forced to embrace widescale remote working for the first time. The rapidly required enforcement saw IT teams working flat out to get all the necessary technologies, tools and processes in place to ensure employees could remain connected and the business remain operational.  

Nearly ten months later and plenty of us are still working from the ‘home office’. Many businesses have discovered remote working can work for them and are considering what the future looks like for their operations. It presents a great opportunity for firms to proactively review their accommodation strategies and reduce their overheads. While remote working is just one trend we can expect to continue this year, how else do we expect professional service firms to be using IT strategically in 2021? 

Strategic IT Trends: What can we expect?

Trend #1: Businesses get to grips with the strategic use of technology

We’ve seen the savvier firms already making measurable gains through the technology investments, but after the pandemic demonstrated just how critical technology is, more companies will start to follow suit. Keeping the lights on and operations running is no longer enough. Slowly but surely we’re moving towards the innovation stage as firms look to use IT as a strategic differentiator, delivering enhanced customer service and value, improving processes and seeing a measurable impact on the bottom line.  

Trend #2: Increase innovation and automation of processes

Automation has probably been on the IT trends list for several years now, but we’re definitely starting to see greater uptake at firms, across all levels. The thing to remember with innovation and automation is it’s not always about ‘sending people to the moon’, it’s about reviewing the way you are operating your business and making incremental improvements. It’s better to start by reviewing and automating a few simple processes, testing and refining, before taking wider steps. There is no need to rush out and try to automate everyone at once. This where you end up with massive, over-complicated workflows and things slipping through the cracks or not working correctly.  

Trend #3: Improved client service delivery and relationship management

With clients’ service expectations consistently increasing, we’re seeing more firms taking an interest and investing in client management. Clients now have multiple contact options available to them (e.g. email, calls, Facebook messenger, online chat, WhatsApp), so they expect to be able to make contact in a manner that suits them – and receive a prompt response. This has been worsened by the pandemic, giving even more options and availability for virtual meetings.  

In 2021, we expect to see more firms building robust service management processes, ensuring that contacts are responded to and not accidentally droppedMore firms are also likely to consider the CRM systems route and take advantage of automated workflows to manage this process. While this is positive, it’s important to remember that technology alone won’t guarantee better customer relationship management. Firms need to map out what they want to achieve and how they want processes to work, rather than jumping in headfirst. Most successful CRM projects take around 2-3 years to roll out fully, so firms need to be patient. Starting with a single department, or just senior managers is an ideal starting point.  This is as much a cultural change as it is about the technology. 

Trend #4: A greater understanding of data – plus how to extract and use it

Although many do not recognise it, professional services firms are data-driven organisations. The problem lies in the fact that a lot of firms do not know what data they hold, where is it stored, and how they can access it and monetise it. We are beginning to see a greater interest in this area and it’s increasingly becoming a topic of conversation. Firms are starting to use this data to make more effective business decisions, for example using past data to price work, to predict the outcome of litigation in legal, or to identify fraudulent claims in the insurance market. 

We also expect to see increased focus around general data and information, particularly around dashboards and reporting. It’s essential that firms analyse and measure all areas of their business, especially with the current pace of change and uncertainty. It’s essential that decisions are made on firm data. 

Trend #5: More focus on reviewing security and risk

Cyber-criminals certainly took advantage of the disruption caused by the pandemic. With more people working remotely, outside the safer confines of the company network most firms risk profiles increased significantly. The result of this combination meant rates of cyber-attack skyrocketed, with massive increases in malware, ransomware, phishing and other methods of attack 

Security is always one of the top concerns for business, but this year we expect there to be a greater focus on reviewing the arrangements in place to ensure they are fit for purpose – particularly with the continued trend of remote working. This could take the form of security audits, penetration testing, phish testing for staff and the like. We would definitely recommend that all businesses prioritise reviewing their risk and controls as a priorityThe rapid pace of change in the threat landscape means the basic measures, such as Cyber Essentials, are really not enough to protect any business. 


These are just a few of the ways we expect strategic IT use and behaviours to change and develop in 2021 based on conversations with our community. There are, of course, many emerging and developing technologies which will have their own effect as well as the outcomes from the pandemic, Brexit and other cultural events. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on strategic IT trends for 2021, so do reach out to us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook    

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How to strategically use IT to increase business resiliency in the age of COVID-19 and beyond

Strategic Blog | 6 ways to use IT to improve long-term business resiliency

Resilience. It’s been one of the top words of 2020. But, as coronavirus has aptly demonstrated, it’s much more than just a buzzword. If you want to your business to withstand turbulent times, be it a recession, new marketplace competitors, changing regulations, security threats, Brexit or a global pandemic you need to improve resilience.

What is business resilience?

Resilience is essentially a business’s ability to anticipate, prepare, respond to, and adapt to change within the business environment. Some events, like COVID-19, are near impossible to predict but generally, the business landscape is becoming more volatile and dynamic. Rapid technological evolution, an increasingly global competitor landscape, and societal issues are all putting stress on the business environment.

However, if you can successfully and continually increase business resiliency, it will better protect your ability to achieve goals and objectives, regardless of the unexpected events that may occur.

6 ways to use IT to increase business resiliency in the long-term

1. Simplify the IT estate

Businesses are dealing with an increasingly complex IT environment. Mergers, acquisitions, and years of accumulated technology – much of it outdated – all contribute to bloat. Over the years, businesses will have likely acquired multiple systems and applications. New demands (internally and client-side) require new capabilities and businesses strive to keep up with the pace of change.

There is probably a lot of overlap within the IT estate. So, the first place to start is with a comprehensive IT portfolio review. Businesses need to review the full estate of infrastructure, hardware, applications, people, processes and tools to determine where the inefficiencies lie.

While such a review may be daunting, the returns – both financially and operationally – will far outweigh the effort. By trimming the fat, businesses will ultimately be able to achieve more modern, agile and secure IT operations. This agility is key to building resiliency. A cumbersome and complex IT estate makes change costly, slow and problematic. Building flexibility into the IT estate, allows businesses to quickly and efficiently react to changes around them. It can also help reduce IT operations expenditure (Op-Ex), which you can then redirect and essentially self-fund further transformation.

2. Use CRM systems

A CRM system ensures you have a complete, centralised view of everything that is going on in your business development function, from New Business and Marketing, through to Account Management, clients and prospects. It gives your Sales and Account Management team access to the real-time data and deep insight they need to close deals for quickly and efficiently.  

Ensuring up to date contact information and a record of all activity is stored in one centralised place allows reps to deliver higher levels of customer service. If a rep is on holiday, ill, or leaves the business, another member of staff can pick up contact where it was left ensuring a smooth experience for the customer. 

Often, it’s not the waiting that frustrates customers, it’s is when they feel like they are in the dark. Not knowing if your request has even been seen, let alone acknowledged. As many businesses strive to improve their customer service, people are being less tolerant of poor service across all industries and are quick to switch to competitors when their expectations aren’t met. When utilised correctly, CRM systems can help manage customer expectations by helping prevent activities from being dropped. Workflows can notify relevant staff members of important upcoming dates, remind them of outstanding tasks, set recurring reminders for regular check-ins and calls, and numerous other points which help the overall client service function run smoother  

Holding detailed client information also allows marketing teams to send more timely, relevant and accurate communications, for example celebrating anniversaries, notifying them of relevant upgrades or add-ons to services/products they already utilise, and alerting them. The right communication, at the right time, can help increase the likelihood of retaining the client and may encourage them to make further purchases. For example, if a client already has a rolling service with you, you probably don’t want to notify them of the massive discount you’re offering to new customers.  

However, it’s important to remember that you cannot realise these gains simply by purchasing the technology. You need to clear on your business requirements and goals – why are you purchasing a CRM system, what do you want to gain, what do you want your reps to be able to do? You need to have the sales and marketing processes in place and be prepared to continually improve them. It’s not just a case of “switch-on and go”.  

For more advice on selecting the right CRM System for your business, check out our top 7 software selection tips


3. Utilise cloud computing & storage

Cloud computing is one of the best ways to increase business resiliency thanks to its inbuilt flexibility and scalability. This was aptly demonstrated at the start of the pandemic when many businesses needed to switch immediately to remote work. Those already utilising cloud platforms and services reported finding the switch much easier than those based fully on-premise. No longer completely reliant on physical hardware, employees can access company data, files, applications and programs from nearly any internet-connected device.  

Additionally, cloud services, such as SaaS, are typically priced per user per month. The number of active users can be easily scaled up or down depending on demand. This flexible pricing structure gives businesses much tighter control over their cash flow, potentially giving them additional budget to be directed elsewhere in the event of a crisis. It also allows a business to scale up, out and across quickly, to seize advantages without the traditional CapEx and ramp-up times. 

4. Automatic breach detection & notification

The cyber-security threat landscape is growing exponentially. Businesses must prepare to defend against threats like ransomware, phishing, malware, DDoS, attacks on IoT devices and more. While you have your first line of defence, like firewalls, anti-virus software and employee training, this is no longer enough. You need to prepare for things slipping through the cracks.  

Tools including threat intelligence analytics dashboards, SIEM, and 24x7x365 Security Operations Centre (SOC) should be utilised to automatically detect any potential threats, intrusions or suspicious activities and respond rapidly to minimise the threat. Such tools and services should also notify IT administrators as soon as threats are detected so they can act and prevent costly downtime and shut down breaches. 

5. Use effective KPIs & dashboards

To accurately track the health of your business, you need to have a holistic view. Typically, most KPIs, at their base level, measure the value extracted. While this is, of course, valuable, and should be continued, it’s quite backwardslooking in terms of resiliency. Measuring the components of resilience, such as adaptability and flexibility, are critical to building a sustainable business.  

Once you’ve chosen the right measurements, it’s essential that you review them on a regular basis. This will enable you to spot potential issues on the horizon and rectify them before they cause real issues for the business. How often you review will depend on what you’re measuring. Some KPIs may need to be checked more frequently than othersYou can underestimate the importance of this data. It is what you should be using the drive business decisions, both strategic and technical. If you can see what is working, you know where to direct your efforts, your resources and your budget.  

Ensure employees are aware of the KPIs and how their actions contribute to the overall success of the company goals. Awareness builds accountability. If employees can understand and see the role they play in the business and feel part of the business’s success, they are more likely to continually improve and refine to ensure those KPIs are hit.  

6. Embrace change

Building resilience is not about only making changes under extreme pressure. Businesses need to have a level of flexibility in their organisation and their supporting IT systems that will allow incremental change and continual improvement. Small but frequent changes are also far less risky than massive, one-off ‘big bang’ style changes.

Increasing business resiliency beyond coronavirus

Unfortunately, experts are already predicting that COVID-19 will not be a oneoff. There is every reason to expect we will see other global pandemics in the future. Furthermore, broader issues like inequality and climate change could easily result in the same economic instability and marketplace volatility that the coronavirus has caused. We also don’t know what the longer-term effects of the long lockdowns on businesses will be, as the whole world has certainly got smaller again, markets are without a doubt going to be more global. 

Change is a natural part of business. You will never be able to fully eliminate every potential risk your business could face. However, you shouldn’t see this as a problem. This is an advantage. Don’t seek to merely mitigate risk to try to restore what was. Instead, look to create opportunities for your business by effectively adapting to new realities.  

Businesses who build resiliency can typically anticipate threats more rapidly, better withstand the initial shock of the event, rebound more quickly, and emerge in a better state for the new environment. These four benefits can make all the difference in a highly turbulent, competitive landscape so businesses must prioritise building resiliency in the coming months.  

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What does a Chief Information Officer (CIO) do?

IT strategy - What does a CIO do to help your business?

What is a Chief Information Officer?

A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is usually the most senior member of a company’s IT team. The CIO handles the corporate IT strategy and determines areas for improvement in IT systems and processes.

Whilst in most cases the CIO reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). It’s also common for a CIO to report to the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) or Chief Operating Officer (COO) instead.

The title of CIO is often interchanged with ‘IT Director’. Unfortunately, IT Director is also the name of a separate role. If a company has both a CIO and IT Director, the IT Director likely focuses on the day-to-day IT operations and reports to the CIO, who focuses on the long-term strategy and major IT projects.

What does a Chief Information Officer do?

1. Evaluates new technology

A CIO’s main responsibility is to be aware of emerging technologies and determining how (or if) they can be of benefit to the business. For example, a CIO might look at how to utilise AI, blockchain or the Internet of Things (IoT). Looking for a possible competitive advantage and/or financial benefit it could deliver for the business.

A good CIO can see past the hype of new technologies and takes a level-headed approach when determining a business case. This makes an understanding of business, as well as technical IT knowledge, necessary.

2. Manages the IT strategy

The CIO is also responsible for the creation of a business’s IT strategy. This includes infrastructure refreshes, upgrades to hardware and integrating new systems into the business’ operations. The mark of a good CIO in this area is their ability to align the IT strategy with the wider business strategy.

Thanks to being in regular contact with the CEO, the CIO will be able to communicate the needs of the IT department to the C-suite and the needs of the wider business back to the IT teams. This enables both the business and IT strategy to work in unison, rather than against each other.

3. Oversees IT projects

When the business is undertaking a major IT project, it’s usually the CIO who manages the implementation strategy. They’re also often the one who signs off the decided solution and who is accountable for the actual implementation.

For example, if the project was selecting a new line of business application, the CIO’s knowledge and their experience of technology, operations and commercial understanding are important to get the right business-enhancing solution.

How can I get a CIO?

The process of hiring a CIO can be a daunting prospect for any business, but it’s also difficult for a growing business. Since a full-time CIO’s salary ranges from £70,000 to over £240,000, procuring the funds or providing the right environment to attract and keep a candidate with the required knowledge of both IT and business plus several proven years of experience in similar sectors can be challenging.

The advantages of an outsourced CIO

For businesses in this situation, an alternative is to outsource the CIO function. This approach has a few notable advantages over hiring an in-house CIO.

  • It’s less expensive as you usually only pay for the time when you use their services, rather than a salary.
  • It can be easier and much less expensive to switch who fulfils the CIO function when you outsource. It’s also usually possible to switch to another CIO Service without changing your outsourcing provider if the problems were a result of a poor culture fit. This saves the hassle of beginning a CIO search again and eliminates resulting HR issues.
  • You can hire individual CIOs from many providers for specialist projects. Allowing you to not rely on a single individual having every skill required for every project you want to undertake.
  • An outsourcing provider offering a CIO Service often has many CIOs who can work together or combine their knowledge to provide you with a solution. Essentially giving you the expertise of multiple CIOs for the price of one.

There are some disadvantages to consider, such as only having part-time availability. But, since the CIO role is strategic, they’re not typically required at the drop of a hat. So it’s unlikely to have a significant impact.

For a growing business, the benefits of outsourcing the CIO function far outweigh the negatives. It’s an effective way of gaining an expert to assist with the IT side of the business, without the traditional costs and HR headaches.

Benefits of IT Outsourcing for growing businesses

Budding plant. Text 12 benefits of IT outsourcing

The benefits of IT outsourcing can give you a great advantage over the competition.

In an increasingly competitive business environment, having a competitive edge is vital to helping your business to survive and grow. The benefits of IT outsourcing can be vast. Outsourcing your IT to an outside provider is one way to gain this edge and here’s how it can help you…


1. Outsourced IT support can improve business focus

No growing or fledgling business can have an expert in every area, and seasoned IT professionals can be expensive. The benefits of IT outsourcing are huge for a growing business, especially as they can lack the resources needed for a dedicated internal IT team. It, therefore, makes sense to outsource certain functions to a company that can focus specifically on that area.

Not only does that give you the same level of service as an internal team would, but it also lets you keep your current internal staff focused on achieving your business goals and doing what your business does best.


2. You have access to experienced professionals

Because outsourced IT teams work with multiple clients, they have a greater range of experience with a greater range of IT systems. This means that they’re more likely to be able to address your specific needs and requirements, as they’ll have the experience.

This can also mean that if you outsource your IT support, the support analysts will be able to solve issues faster because they won’t need to do as much preliminary research and troubleshooting as someone who hasn’t encountered the problem before would. This reduces the average length of a ticket time and means you experience less IT downtime.


3. Helps you manage your budget

The cost of hiring and training a single dedicated employee easily outstrips the price of outsourcing. And in a growing business, hiring any employee can be a risk if they turn out to be a poor fit or under-qualified. With the high salaries of well qualified IT specialists, these risks are amplified even more.

Choosing to outsource your IT needs instead means you have more options to choose from regarding how you get your IT support, enabling you to be more flexible with your budget. This leaves you open to investing more in system upgrades, delivering increased business performance and improved security systems to keep you safe from the multitude of cyber-threats out there.


4. Address any issues rapidly

Employing a dedicated support engineer for dealing with support tickets will mean that they’re stretched thin across your business. This can result in long waits for simple fixes, even longer waits for big issues and backlogs of issues whenever that employee is off sick or on holiday.

You get access to multiple highly qualified and experienced support specialists if you choose to outsource. You’ll be able to provide solutions to many simultaneous issues and reduce the amount of time lost to under-maintained IT. This will in turn let you focus more on your business and reduce the chance of costly downtime.


5. Reduces downtime

Having an IT support team on hand means problems can be resolved faster and employees can return to work sooner. This means less time is spent dealing with technical issues and more time is spent on the tasks which deliver value for your business.

A high-quality outsourced IT provider is also able to identify larger issues that could cause an outage or technical problem in the future and suggest ways to solve it. This lets you prevent or avoid expensive periods of downtime that can damage both your profits and your image.


6. The benefits of IT outsourcing allow you to be more competitive

Outsourcing your IT lets you get the advice and assistance that larger firms have, but at a price suitable for a growing one. This allows you to compete with other businesses in your field by giving you access to the technology and support that they utilise. Additionally, with access to a service that market leaders use, you’ll be able to elevate yourself above the direct competitors in your field.


7. Provides 24x7x365 monitoring

It’s not feasible to expect your single IT manager to monitor every single aspect of your IT environment 24/7, 365 days of the year. But if you choose a quality IT support provider they’ll have access to the resources needed to do this. Not only that but they’ll also have the expertise needed to spot any potential issues and resolve them before downtime occurs.


8. Works proactively, not reactively

Many internal IT teams deliver a reactive service. Only broken things get fixed. Although this may keep a business running, things shouldn’t be left to break down in the first place. One of the biggest benefits of IT outsourcing  is that forward-thinking outsourced IT providers offer proactive support where they identify potential issues, and implement suitable solutions before a major technical failure occurs, saving you time and money.


9. You bypass lengthy training & you save money

Delegating aspects of the workload will see a cost benefit. Outsourcing allows you to avoid the often large monetary and time costs associated with training dedicated IT staff. This is because a good IT provider will hire experienced analysts and continue to train them further in their own time rather than on yours.

Additionally, by working with multiple clients, analysts can develop their skills and experience further and faster. Ensuring that you receive a constantly improving service.


10. Benefits of IT Outsourcing Minimises risks

Effective and easy access to your IT environment means greater business success. To address this, a good outsourced IT provider will keep your IT environment up to date. This includes taking full responsibility for verifying backups, pushing out patches, and keeping stock of inventory to minimise potential disruption.

The right outsourcing partner needs the capacity and expertise to proactively monitor your systems to prevent downtime and respond quickly to any issues.

Choosing to outsource your IT also reduces the risk of making a poor technology investment, as you will always have technical expertise on hand to assist you with major projects.


11. Your knowledge pool is bigger

When you hire an IT specialist you get the expertise of a single person with a single level of skills. When you hire a support team, you get access to multiple analysts with various levels of expertise in multiple areas. So, you end up with access to a greater pool of knowledge at a more cost-effective rate.

Furthermore, the Service Desk Manager can ensure that the analyst with the most relevant experience is assigned to each ticket. Reducing the time taken to solve issues, so you run faster.


12. The benefits of IT Outsourcing increases efficiency

Through outsourcing, you can reduce the time spent on the little things and focus more on the big picture. Employees can spend less time trying to fix IT by themselves, technical issues can be resolved faster and expert advice can be given on IT infrastructure problems. This means you have more time on your core business activities which support your growth and success.

In conclusion

A critical function like IT being in the hands of an external company can seem risky, but as there are many benefits provided by outsourcing. There’s no reason to not consider it for your growing business.


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