To many, virtual may mean "fake" or "not physically real." But, if you know enough about technology and where we're headed, virtually really means "cost-effective" and "more easily accessible."
The concept of creating "virtual" positions is as old as contracting itself. I've worked with vCFO's which, for small companies, felt more like a part time controller, or worse, a bookkeeper. Of course, just about every position that can be filled with by a contractor would fit the "virtual" description.
So what makes the short term or long term prospect of a vCIO interesting?
The vCIO has time to be strategic now - not weeks from now, or months from now, or whenever he/she gets properly acclimated. Now!
The vCIO, unique from other "virtual" services, represents something quite unique - a "timeshare for mind-share"! Imagine having access to the skills, resources, and experience you couldn't afford even if you could find the right full-time employee.
But let me tell you what no one will tell you, when comparing the CIO to the vCIO.
The vCIO has no political interest. A new in-house CIO needs to consider the fragile relationship framework that makes your organization. This process leaves your IT staff wondering which of their priorities make the short list. Your vCIO, by contrast, will be focused solely on the business priorities shared by the C-suite.
The vCIO can be productive in days. While an in-house CIO is meeting with HR to select benefits, designating 401k beneficiaries, and signing contracts, your vCIO is evaluating your existing environment with the help of your subject-matter experts.
The vCIO can engage a network of experienced professionals quickly on your behalf. An in-house CIO will want to evaluate who, currently on staff, is capable being successful for the strategic project list. But what if you're having problems now? What if dysfunction is part of the problem? Your vCIO can quickly triage organizational problems and work with his C-level sponsor to choose an appropriate plan of action.
Of course, a vCIO is not for everyone. However, these aren't the only benefits to consider. So, if you haven't looked into it, maybe it's about time.