I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading list. Most articles, books and blogs that I’ve been reading have been focused around CIO’s and IT organizations (surprise!). I’ve been reading some great stuff (and sharing most of it in my links posts or in other posts here or on CIO Essentials).

The majority of articles I’ve read talk about the problems that CIO’s and IT groups in large organization face today . The articles, blogs and books usually point out a problem then provide some insight into how the CIO of company X has led their company to overcome problem Y.  And usually, the way these CIO’s solve their problems is with money, resources and consultants.

This is all well and good….but what about the smaller organizations out there without a large set of resources? Where’s the discussions and highlights of the small business IT groups and their approaches to solving IT problems without large budgets?

Where’s the love for the Small Business CIO? Do a search for “Small Business CIO” on Google and you’ll find a few articles focused on the small business CIO but little real focus on the issues facing the Small Business CIO.

So….what do you do if you’re a CIO at a small business and 90% of the literature you read is focused on the large enterprise? You can probably take most of the information out there and dissect it down to knowledge useful to you. You are a smart person after all.

Are things different in Small Business?

Honestly…not really. A CIO is a CIO. The functions are the same…but the approaches to those functions can be quite different.

The basics of the role of the CIO are the same. You still have to manage the technology and technology workers within an organization. In the small organization, the focus has always been on delivering more with less.  Resources are much more constrained than in the larger organizations.

Additionally, there’s little room in a small business for IT project failure. Failure isn’t an option in the small business world of IT….if an IT project fails it could possibly mean the failure of the business.

In my conversations with CIO’s around the country, I’ve found those in the small business arena to be more attuned to finding every option available to outsource services and build/implementing platforms that can help them remove costs from operations and/or deliver more innovative services.

Now…that’s not THAT different from a large enterprise CIO. In fact, its pretty much the same thing that every CIO is focusing on these days…but delivering more value with less resources is much more important to the Small Business CIO who has five employees versus the large business CIO with an IT staff of 100.

I’ve also found the Small Business CIO to be closer to technology than CIO’s from larger organizations.   I think this is because  The world of the small business brings a different set of challenges for CIO’s and IT groups.  There are fewer people within the small business and the CIO has historically stayed closer to the technical end of things.

The Future of the Small Business CIO

What will the future bring for the small business CIO?  Will all IT be outsourced and the role of CIO diminish to one of managing vendors?  Will the CIO and IT Groups within small organizations become less valuable as their services and platforms move to the cloud?

Interesting questions that I plan to look into further.  I’m planning to write a few more posts on the topic so stay tuned for more.  I’ve got a few interviews lined up with CIO’s from around the country and hope to be able to shed some light on what’s happening in the IT groups of small businesses.

Stay tuned for more.

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