If they are technically innovative, the small business will likely see a huge payout either in a dramatic jump in profits or in an outright buyout. Indeed, small business CIOs and CTOs have proven themselves savvier in more than a handful of cases than they big firm brethren. One need only to look at the rash of start-ups and acquisitions to see that is so.
Chris Cali, CEO and co-founder of DevSpark, is just one example of many. Cali started a company called Panvidea as its CIO/CTO and then became CEO before he sold the company last year. He was also a solution architect at Maven Networks, which has been acquired by Yahoo! Now, he is a technology strategy consultant and nearshore software development provider who works with CIOs from small, medium and large companies. In a nutshell, his staying in the small business arena is a big business play for him. And he thinks that’s true of many small business CIOs on several levels.
CIOs or CTOs of small companies are “the most tactical as they're usually the lead programmer or product developer,” he said. “These types need a hands-on working knowledge of technologies in order to choose those that are the most cost and time efficient for solving their problems.”
It is often the guys and gals in the mid-sized companies that get the least respect. That has absolutely nothing to do with their reality and everything to do with the lack of star-glazed glitz that both small businesses and large enterprises tend to enjoy.
CIOs of mid-sized companies may not sparkle in the public’s eye, but their work is no less impressive when measured truly.
“The CIOs of medium-sized firms find themselves needing to the have the most hands on understanding of technology,” explained Picciotto. “Their firms have not reached the size where they can have innovation labs, or dedicated architecture roles, but the business has grown to a size and complexity where technology, and its effective planning, plays an increased role in company success.”
As such, the CIO in a medium-sized firm must have “a more intimate understanding of the core technology running the business and what the impact of technologies on the horizon will have on the company and the market,” he said.
The mid-sized CIO has more budget to work with than the typical small business CIO, but (there it is again) he also has more leeway in decision making than the typical enterprise CIO. They are often found in the thick of things battling to move the company forward in any way that’s needed be it in the hands-on or heads-up position.
“This saves their organizations time and money and at the end of the day, they come out as superstars,” said Schoen.
But ... when all is said and done, CIOs everywhere have more in common than not.
“A CIO in any business have obstacles they need to overcome,” explained Schoen. “Their challenge is finding the most efficient way to steer through them."
A prolific and versatile writer, Pam Baker writes about technology, science, business, and finance for leading print and online publications including ReadWriteWeb, CIO and CIO.com, Institutional Investor, Fierce Markets Network, I Six Sigma magazine, CIO Update, E-Commerce Times, and many others. Her published credits include eight traditional books, a smattering of eBooks, and several analytical studies on various technologies for research firms on two continents. Among other awards, Baker won international acclaim for her documentary on the paper-making industry, and is a member of the National Press Club and the Internet Press Guild (IPG). She lives in Georgia, USA with her family and two dogs.
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