As for the perceived problem of "not belonging", as long as your expertise is evident and your mandate is clearly defined there should be no problem, Wills says. As a capsule demonstration of his knowledge and competence, he can now point to his formal IT Certified Professional qualification, a mark of assured professionalism recently instituted by the NZ Computer Society.

It also helps that Maxsys stays scrupulously neutral in its relationships with vendors. "We don't sell hardware or software," he notes.

Wills expects to see the virtual CIO idea grow as small companies in particular face more ICT challenges and the value of the concept becomes evident.

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