The virtual CIO

Murray Wills, director of consultancy Maxsys, spends a good proportion of his working life acting as a "virtual CIO" -- for organisations that either cannot justify a full-time CIO or IT manager, or who face a temporary lack of such a person through vacation or delay to a reappointment after the IT chief has left.

A virtual CIO can also be requested to supply for a time high-level skills for a major development or strategic evaluation of IT opportunities, where the regular IT manager is adequate to the day-to-day operational aspects of the business, but lacking in skills for those longer term aims.

The brief must be tightly defined and understood, says Wills. A contract that expects the contractor to make a difference to the ICT system is very different from a holiday stop-gap role, where it would be unfair to the permanent incumbent to make material changes.

A virtual CIO needs to come to grips quickly with both the technical infrastructure and the nature of the business and its corporate objectives, says Wills. He has the business experience to supply this need, he says, with a past career in consultancy and sales having given him the necessary expertise in building and maintaining relationships.

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