Meet the ‘virtual CIO’ helping Kiwi small businesses fly
Paul Manson brings over twenty years experience helping Kiwi businesses succeed through smarter IT to his new role as HUM’s ‘virtual CIO’. We caught up with him to find out more.
HI PAUL, TELL US WHAT YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT WORKING WITH SMALL BUSINESSES...
I’m passionate about helping Kiwi businesses punch above their weight, and using smart technology to make that a reality. Working with genuinely good people, who want to make a difference in their business, is a great thrill.
WHY WOULD A SMALL BUSINESS NEED A vCIO?
Technology is a beast. It’s amazing how quickly new ideas and ways of doing things go from the fringe to being mainstream. The rate of change these days makes it incredibly difficult for most small businesses to keep pace. While every business is unique, often many of the challenges you have are similar to those of other businesses. By working with someone who does it all the time you can avoid all the false starts and wasted time and resource that come with learning as you go.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A vCIO AND MY CURRENT I.T. GUY?
The vCIO service is less about the day to day ‘keeping the lights on’, and more about the big picture and future-proofing for success. In the dark old days, I was once that ‘IT guy’ you speak of, and I never really had time to look at the bigger picture.
Imagine you have a power cut. An IT guy looks at a power cut and thinks, ‘What do I need to do to get the server back up and running when the power comes back?’ A vCIO looks at the same problem and asks, ‘What did that power cut cost us and how can we do things differently so power cuts don’t affect us like this again?’
WHAT KIND OF WORK DO YOU DO FOR HUM CLIENTS?
The great part about my job is how varied it is. I help with strategic and business technology planning, pre-sales advice and high-level estimates for projects or expansions. This is generally covered as part of a ‘vCIO Review’, a process of getting to know your business and aligning your IT needs with your business goals for the next 12-24 months.
Sometimes, I’m just a sounding board. Some of the most worthwhile projects I have been involved in started with a client calling me and saying, ‘Paul, this might sound weird, but I was thinking…’ Helping the client to make sound, informed IT decisions to drive their business forward is really what we are all about.
SO WHAT DOES THE PARTNERSHIP LOOK LIKE, IN PRACTICAL TERMS?
It depends on the client and what they need. A small client with low rate of change and limited IT growth may only catch up with me in person a couple of times a year. If you have a significant rate of change we may meet quarterly, or even monthly.
Naturally, if you have an IT issue, our service team is available 24/7 to get it fixed. We’ve also invested heavily in technology that lets your infrastructure tell us when it’s feeling poorly, so often we’ll be working on issues you don’t even know exist. In addition, we send clients monthly reporting, detailing what is going on with their site and recommending any improvements.
WHAT’S YOUR TOP PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES WITH BIG GROWTH PLANS?
Don’t get caught up in hype. It’s easy to be distracted by the next shiny piece of technology, the next online service, the next software application. You need to slow down and engage with someone who can help you plan the smart deployment of these technologies in a way that best serves your business.
If you'd like to find out more about HUM's vCIO service, drop Paul a line here.