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What Is The Meaning Of “CIO”?

First, there is a simpler question: What does the abbreviation “CIO” stand for? The answer: “Chief Information Officer.” But what is the exact role? How is the CIO different from the CTO? How does a CIO make a difference to a mid-market business?

There is no universally agreed definition of a CIO’s role. But in our view, a CIO is a C-suite position responsible for all aspects of IT, including organization, systems, and processes.

The CIO helps develop the vision and strategy of the business and ensures the systems and processes create a firm foundation for growth.

For CIOs to succeed, they must be expert at delivering complex, transformational projects. And they must know how to make tech and people work successfully to achieve business goals. This means understanding IT in detail as well as being an impressive communicator and organizational leader.

Who does a CIO do? What are the roles and responsibilities?

The CIO oversees all internal IT teams and suppliers, all IT budgets and IT operations, cybersecurity, and risk management. Their role may encompass digital and online and they may drive initiatives across other areas as well.

These initiatives should include systems and data integration in order to deliver more efficient processes. Integration improvements are often focused on improving margins and customer service. But the CIO will tie integration to improvements in management information and reporting, which are crucial to enabling growth.

The CIO will also be responsible for streamlining and automating systems and processes whenever possible, to enable scalability, reduce costs, and facilitate the ability to demonstrate compliance.

In some cases, the CIO is responsible for linked areas of information and compliance, such as regulatory approvals like GDPR and ISO 27000.

Are there different types of CIO?

Of course, the CIO’s role will vary depending on the needs of the organization.

In some cases the CIO’s main purpose is to drive transformational change; sometimes the role is to maintain and continually improve infrastructure and systems.

Some CIOs are externally focused, ensuring, for example, that the company leadership understands the needs of their customers. Others are far more occupied by ongoing management of internal operations.

For mid-market businesses, a ‘fractional,’ or part-time CIO, provides a cost-effective way to access the skills of a top-quality CIO.

How does a CIO impact businesses of different sizes?

Systems and tech are at the heart of any modern business, so the role of the CIO is crucial regardless of its size.

In larger organizations, the CIO leads broad-based initiatives where a siloed approach would be counterproductive, for example in businesses struggling with disintegration and incompatibility. The CIO provides unifying leadership, bringing together different groups, resolving competing objectives, and creating buy-in to a single vision.

For smaller organizations, the CIO ensures that business objectives are met by managing suppliers, teams, and specific projects. The CIO understands the technical and commercial details and can make decisions accordingly.

In a mid-market business, the CIO spans the range from unifying leader to expert. Critically, the CIO always sets the agenda and drives the business priorities into the IT culture. The CIO is always aware of the strategic direction of the business and ensures that the systems and digital strategy match.

“A new business strategy required TGS to become the operational center of the other businesses within the group. We had no systems in place at the time and a very short timescale, so we needed somebody with the knowledge, experience and drive to understand our business very quickly, source and implement a group wide ERP solution, create a new IT infrastructure, and find a trusted IT partner in minimal time. Freeman Clarke came in and completed what we believed was a mammoth task, with no drama and delivered us exactly what we needed. Fantastic.”

Clare Coles, Group Finance Director, Traffic Group Signals.

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke CIOs work on a “fractional,” or part-time model. This provides a business with first-class tech leadership without the full-time cost.

Our fractional CIOs are uniquely suited to mid-market businesses. They have outstanding technical expertise. They are strategic thinkers. They understand how to use tech to drive growth. But they are also suited to the culture and reality of mid-market business.

Whatever the needs of the company, our CIOs operate from the fundamental idea of linking systems and digital strategy to business objectives. This should be the goal of every innovative company because when the two disciplines are connected, we see real, sustainable growth.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

What Is The Meaning Of ‘CTO’?

“CTO” stands for “Chief Technology Officer.” But what exactly does that role entail? And why is a CTO so important to a mid-market company?

There is no widely accepted definition of the role. However, in our view, a CTO is a C-suite executive responsible for all the technology in the company – including, but not limited to, its IT. The CTO is also responsible for all tech-related teams and suppliers.

The term “CTO” best describes the role required when tech is a significant part of a company’s revenue, profit, or value, often through online and digital initiatives.

A good CTO will have a deep understanding of tech, particularly custom software development, combined with real-world business experience. A good CTO also understands funding, valuation, and exit.

A CTO can transform a business by fostering innovation, efficiency, and streamlining. When a CTO combines tech expertise with real-life business experience, they can have a significant effect on the valuation of a company.

What are the roles and responsibilities of a CTO

A CTO is responsible for all the tech in the company, as well as all the teams and suppliers relating to technology. The CTO manages all the relevant budgets and ensures the secure, reliable, and efficient operation of all these resources.

More importantly, the CTO uses systems and digital to drive innovation and deliver value. This may mean streamlining and automation. It may also mean more specific changes, such as improvements to customer service. These changes will often involve creating custom software for market-facing systems.

The software may be central to the business plan, and the CTO may have a key role in communicating the plan to investors and other stakeholders. Thus the CTO’s credibility and track record will be important to the credibility of the plan, and, as a result, the credibility of the entire company.

Are there different types of CTO?

There can be many variations in the roles and responsibilities of a CTO, depending upon the needs of the business. Some CTOs will focus more on infrastructure; others may spend more time on the tech itself. These days, when so much business is online, a CTO may spend the majority of his or her time on customer acquisition or the customer experience.

Often a CTO will take a more global view of the business, looking for ways tech can drive value. This may involve implementing a new ERP or streamlining the IT to increase efficiency and lower overhead.

The exact responsibilities of the CTO will always be driven by the needs of the business, especially for mid-market companies. In these cases, a “fractional,” or part-time CTO, is an affordable alternative.

How a CTO impacts businesses of different sizes

A CTO will have a profound effect on a business of any size. The CTO of a multinational corporation may have thousands of subordinates, and the ability to inspire other leaders, to seek out opportunities and negotiate with internal and external partners will make an enormous difference to the bottom line. Their approach to innovation and security will strongly influence the corporate culture.

In a small business, particularly in startups, the CTO is crucial to survival. They must be nimble and flexible, wearing whatever hat is necessary to keep the business functioning. Since so many startups deal with tech products, the CTO’s talent and acumen is absolutely vital.

In the mid-market space, CTOs combine nimbleness and vision. Here the CTO should influence the culture, such as fostering good security habits, and deal directly with suppliers. And they also must be thinking ahead, aligning tech needs to business goals so that the business will thrive.

“Investing in IT has been – and will continue to be – critical for the continued growth and success of our business. Freeman Clarke has given us the confidence we need to make those investments. The flexibility and depth of experience provided by the Freeman Clarke model has been ideal for us as we’ve grown.”

Peter Davies, COO, Gateley

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke CTOs work on a “fractional,” or part-time model. This provides a business with first-class tech leadership without the full-time cost.

Our fractional CTOs are uniquely suited to mid-market businesses. They have outstanding technical expertise. They are strategic thinkers. They understand how to use tech to drive growth. But they are also suited to the culture and reality of mid-market business.

Whatever the remit, our CTOs operate from the fundamental idea of linking a business’s systems and digital strategy to business objectives. This should be the goal of every innovative company, because when the two disciplines are connected, we see real, sustainable growth.

Visit our Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

What is a Project Management Consultant?

A project management consultant is an expert project manager from outside an organization who manages or oversees a project or contributes to its management or oversight. 

A project management consultant makes sense for mid-market businesses who are beginning a large project, as most of their people are already committed to other roles. And large projects may be rare, so the company lacks the necessary project management routines and structures.

A professional project management consultant will have the time and expertise to fill this gap. He or she will guide the project and introduce the processes necessary for its delivery. 

Project management consultants also bring their experience of different organizations and projects, and they can avoid getting drawn into routine work that eats up the regular staff’s time. 

What does a project management consultant do?

 

At its simplest, project manager consultants focus on four activities:

  1. Identifying the necessary work
  2. Identifying the necessary resources
  3. Ensuring resources are properly allocated to deliver the work
  4. Monitoring escalating issues and delivery.

These are important activities: large projects won’t succeed if they aren’t done properly. But crucially, these activities alone will not guarantee success

Why do projects fail or get “stuck”?

 

It is a well-established fact that most projects fail to deliver. In our experience, projects go awry because project managers don’t address the following crucial issues:

How do you find the right project management consultant?

 

The above points are leadership gaps, and project management consultants may not always fill them. In contrast, here are the key ways in which Freeman Clarke consultants ensure a successful project.

  1. Set clear business goals. The underlying business value of the project must be clear and accepted by all the stakeholders. Our role is to have the courage and drive to ensure this clarity is maintained until delivery.
  2. Embrace change. Delivering value often requires significant changes: for example, changes in organization, behavior, and/or processes. We take ownership of these changes and ensure they contribute to the success of the project. 
  3. Communicate issues or challenges. Project managers may not communicate issues or risks to leadership in ways that inspire positive action. This can happen even when there is ample progress reporting! We make sure that technical and non-technical people understand potential problems and take steps to resolve them.

To sum up: for most mid-market businesses, large internal projects are relatively rare, so they do not have the senior-level management skills available in-house. Project management consultants provide a solution, but they often leave a leadership gap. Freeman Clarke works with ambitious mid-market businesses to fill this gap and ensure that projects deliver the planned business objectives on time and on budget.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us or call 646 741 2170 and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients to use technology to beat their competition.

Diamond Logistics Client Story

Diamond Logistics is thriving. CEO Kate Lester speaks about her passion sharing her company’s success and how Freeman Clarke’s tech expertise has been instrumental for Diamond and its clients.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients to use technology to beat their competition.

Using Tech to Succeed in Wholesale and Distribution

It’s no secret that COVID brought huge disruptions to the wholesale and distribution sectors. But they only complicated a space that was already challenging.

Margins have long been tight, the range of services increasingly broad, with customers wanting ever-higher quality and specialist support across the entire supply chain. And yet they never want to pay more for it!

To continue reading this CEOs briefing download it below.

Visit our Technology Roadmap for Growth knowledge center, which have more useful content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Cyber Security is a Leadership Challenge

These days perhaps half of all companies face a cyber attack. The usual response is to insist that it’s the IT team’s problem. But in our experience, the buck stops with the CEO. This short video explains how you can quickly educate yourself about cyber security and how Freeman Clarke can help.

Visit our Cyber Security Knowledge Center which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

My company is under cyberattack! What do I do?

What to do if and when your company suffers a cyberattack.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How do you start a Cyber Security plan?

So many CEOs, however capable, are unsure about how to start a Cyber Security plan. Gerry explains where and how to start.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How can a CEO get the sales team focused on Cyber Security?

So many security risks come in through the sales team. Listen to our quick guide to getting the salespeople to take these risks seriously.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How to judge your real level of Cyber Security risk

A quick guide to assessing your company’s actual risk of cybercrime, and how to get started on prevention.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
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Subscribe to our Business Insights

Plain English board-level briefings focused on technology strategies to deliver competitive advantage and business success.

* Please enter an email address
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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.