Technology Officers

Technology Officers

Virtual CIO & CTO Strategic Planning Services in Chicago

If you use technology in your daily operations, you need someone to direct the approach and ensure that it supports the goals of the company. Some businesses pay triple-digit salaries for a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to do this job in-house — but with the help of an XL.net Technology Officer, you can get the same services for just a portion of the cost, plus many other benefits unique to XL.net.

A partnership with XL.net offers you the services of a fractional or Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO) — a consultant that accomplishes many of the same tasks as a CIO. We offer these CTO services to Chicago SMBs to help them meet their goals.

Our Technology Officers can steer technology at your company in the right direction with fractional CIO services. There are three things you need from your Technology Officer:

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Awareness

Your Technology Officer needs to be aware of staying within budget solutions that exist in the market and of the needs of each of your departments. They typically have an exceptional knowledge of trends in the market and new technologies that can help you meet your goals without breaking the bank.

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Strategy

You need a destination and a plan to get you there. Your plan should map out annual goals and projects that line up with priorities across your organization.

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Results

Technology without results is waste. You need technology to help you achieve your business goals faster and more efficiently. A Technology Officer can help you achieve successful results with clear, transparent and documented metrics.

Let’s review each of these three items needed for successful VCIO services in Chicago and how XL.net addresses them.

Awareness

There are hundreds of thousands of different technology solutions on the market. The largest research organization in the world, Gartner, researches over 300 categories of technology solutions.

That’s a lot of categories, so much that we could not even fit it on a legible single image.

With COVID-19, remote work tools became mission-critical for most. Take a look at just that category:

 

Again, that’s for a single category, and we couldn’t even fit everything on the page, let alone make it legible.

Our Technology Officers have to be aware of the subset of technology solutions available that could be within budget for our clients and appropriate to solve the types of issues and opportunities they deal with.

Luckily, we focus exclusively on clients of similar size and complexity. We cater to SMBs, making our Technology Officers particularly well-suited to serving these types of organizations. They’re more than ready to find the ideal solution for the unique challenges that face SMBs.

To understand which technology solutions are viable for your business, we take the following steps:

  1. We start by taking the time to identify and understand where you want your business to go. At this point, we put together a direct, one-page Technology Alignment Plan (TAP). The TAP is an outline of technology goals and the changes that can be made to achieve them, complete with trackable metrics. It also includes any problem areas you can address.
  2. We then create and, with you, update your Business Model Canvas quarterly. A Business Model Canvas is a template that helps us document your business model, including value propositions, infrastructure and other elements that drive everyday operations.
  3. To ensure that the technology solutions continue to address issues and opportunities across your organization, we put together and run your Technology Committee with champions from each department.

Strategic

Technology without a strategy is like going to an unknown destination without a map. Knowing the destination and having a map come together in the TAP. Below is a sample of the information provided in a TAP.

You’ll notice that the TAP covers short-term and long-term goals, providing project suggestions and a rundown of your goals and issues.

Our Technology Officers create a TAP for you annually by interviewing the head of each of your departments individually. We ask everyone the same questions to gather a comprehensive view of your organization and workflow, and we document all the answers. The document with those answers is, on average, 18 pages long.

We take the 18-page document and, based on our awareness of the technology solutions that companies similar to your size and complexity have succeeded with, we create a draft TAP like the one above.

Then, we meet with you for 45 minutes to an hour and make sure the plan developed is the right one for you. We provide you with the 18-page document and number the interview answers so you can see all of the comments that went into an annual goal or project.

Once the TAP is approved, we begin our work to complete the Business Model Canvas:

Your Business Model Canvas allows us to more deeply understand all the critical aspects of your business and how technology can influence them. Some of the areas covered include partner and client communications, key activities, your value proposition, customer makeup, budgets and resources.

Next, we put together a Technology Committee with a champion from each of your departments. The purpose of the Technology Committee is to accomplish the following on a quarterly basis:

  • Jointly update the Business Model Canvas
  • Jointly review the misalignments as identified by the monthly technology audits by your System Analyst
  • Jointly select the right priorities for the next quarter to hit your TAP annual goals
  • Communicate department needs, issues and opportunities to the rest of the Technology Committee
  • Be the champion to their departments for the next quarter’s changes as agreed to on the TAP

This committee can boost communications and help ensure the goals of the TAP are distributed throughout the company.

Results

You need results from your technology department — results that move your business forward faster and more efficiently, metric-based results that you can track, so that you know what value your technology department is providing to your business.

Your fractional CIO services should achieve and show results. There are four metrics that we track with you to jointly assess the value your business is getting:

  • Technology obstacle rate per employee: How many issues each of your employee’s experiences per month. This number should be fewer than three issues a year, yet we have found most companies that do not look at this number regularly have more than 14 issues a year per employee. That’s 10%-25% of your payroll that is wasted from poorly selected and maintained technology.
  • Security Level: The Center for Internet Security provides an easy standards-based roadmap to assess your security level to a score between 0-5. Most organizations with under 250 employees are at Security Level 0.2. Or phrased differently, most organizations have not addressed 96% of their security risks. That number might explain why 76% of small and medium businesses were attacked last year by hackers in the US and 69% reported losing sensitive corporate or customer information.
  • Balance: This is the metric in your business that cannot be breached as you go after your goals — your Mendoza Line. Perhaps it is the customer satisfaction level you maintain. In that example, you would not want to bring in too many customers so quickly that you cannot maintain a certain satisfaction level.
  • Critical Success Metric: The most important metric we jointly focus on. The one thing that you can look at to know if your company was improving or declining in the last week. A leading metric frequently has an indirect impact on your future revenues and profit. This metric is very hard to find, but we can help you locate it. Once you do, everyone in your business and ours will know where we are heading on the map. Our company’s mission is to improve this metric by 30% a year.

With all of these metrics and a keen eye, your Technology Officer can watch for growth, areas for improvement and new opportunities. If you want to truly understand the value of your technology, results like these are essential.

Working With an XL.net Technology Officer

An XL.net Technology Officer conducts CTO strategic planning for Chicago SMBs with all of the above qualities in mind. Our Technology Officers are full of industry knowledge and strategic ideas. Plus, they know the value of documentation and measurable results and can use them to help you align your technology with the goals of your company.

In addition to the help of a Technology Officer, XL.net clients get the assistance of the well-trained, qualified team of experts behind our various services. Here at XL.net, we’re all about growth and results. We believe there’s always a way to do better, and our virtual CIO services can help you get there.

To learn more about our CTO services in Chicago and the surrounding areas, reach out to us today. We’d love to get started creating your TAP and developing the plan to grow your business with aligned technology.