A VIE CIO is a True CIO, and Speaks Your Language

A True CIO and vCIO are fundamentally different. Increasingly, mid-size businesses are outsourcing their IT support functions such as help desk, server and network management to an IT Managed Service Provider (IT MSP). Within their various service offerings, many of these companies also provide a function called vCIO, or virtual Chief Information Officer. They are not a True CIO.

A True CIO and a vCIO are Fundamentally Different

A true CIO is primarily a business leader first, someone who focuses on the strategic business needs of the enterprise, with experience in providing guidance on how technology can be used to achieve goals related to the top line and bottom line of the business. This type of capability is far beyond the reach of the IT MSP virtual CIO.

The vCIO service from Managed Service Providers does not perform the same function as a true CIO. When examined closely, the vCIO role is actually more like a Senior Technologist; more concerned with assessing longer-term technology infrastructure needs of client organizations. To the degree that the person serving in the role is able to obtain information surrounding the technology needs from the client, they are able to provide a modicum of advice regarding the technology infrastructure needs only as it relates to the business. This presents a potential problem, given most business owners and non-technology executives are ill informed about their technology needs and how to manage their complete technology portfolio including technology infrastructure, business applications and business analytics. There is a large gap remaining, and this gap can only be fulfilled by a true CIO, internally or externally.

Understanding the VIE CIO

The consulting CIO role offered by VIE is one option for clients to outsource the role of the CIO to bring a true Business Technology expert in-house on a part-time basis. Our CIO consultants will meet the need of clients to most effectively manage their technology portfolio, focusing technology on strategic business needs and envisioning ways to leverage technology to transform the business into the digital age.  Here are some of the key differences between the VIE CIO role and the IT-MSP vCIO role:

VIE Consulting CIO


Is a Strategic Business function                      

Is a Technology Management function

Transforms Business. Leads Business

Improves Technology

Helps to shape business strategy based on new technology (Digital Transformation)

Is concerned with providing the best possible IT support services

Handles configuration and growth of IT Applications portfolio

Typically does not handle IT Applications strategy or implementation, only technical support

No Conflict of Interest. Interests are always aligned with Company Management. A Consulting CIO provides independent assessment and oversight over outside technology providers, including MSPs. 

Has a conflict of interest between vCIO function and the IT support services provided. A vCIO provided by the MSP is incapable of providing true oversight of IT Applications or Business Process Optimization 

Is typically purchased because of lack expertise and lack of need for full-time CIO role

Is typically purchased because IT support is a commodity function and can be performed faster, better, and cheaper by an IT MSP

The Bottom Line

So, what’s the bottom line? The virtual CIO (vCIO) role offered by a Managed Service Provider (MSP) provides a much-needed function in keeping the technology infrastructure stable for the clients they support, helping networks become more secure and reliable. In contrast, the true CIO role fulfilled by VIE provides the business case for investing in forward-looking technology as it applies to the strategic objectives of the business. The proactive approach of a true CIO, whether part-time or full-time, helps the enterprise stay ahead of the curve, building for a greater future rather than fighting the fires created from misinformed technology decisions of yesterday.


Manoj Garg is the founder and managing partner of Virtual Information Executives. He brings over 25 years of senior executive leadership skills and technology management experience with domestic and international operations to VIE’s clients. Manoj earned his MBA from the University of Rochester, specializing in Finance and Entrepreneurship, a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India. Manoj is an active member of the TIE Oregon, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide support activities and mentoring to the entrepreneurial community to foster business growth and employment opportunities in Oregon.