Category: Network

What Is A Virtual CIO And Why You Need One?

virtual cio vcio Chief Information Officer

As companies grow, the technologies they use become more complex. At the beginning, it might be easy for you to handle your software, customer data, and cybersecurity needs on your own. However, once you pass a certain number of employees, this task becomes more challenging. At that point, you could consider hiring a virtual CIO, or Chief Information Officer. A good vCIO can perform all the tasks of an in-person employee, but at a much lower cost.

For example, they might assess and improve your technology, improve cyber security, implement complex IT solutions, and handle any issues related to compliance. Most of the firms we work with at Flying Buttress are SMBs that need to set up a tech department but don’t have the means to hire their own full-time CIO. With our help, they can receive the support they need while remaining flexible and allowing for future growth.

What Is a Virtual CIO?

A chief information officer is a person or entity that handles and coordinates the technology, suppliers, and teams of a company. The CIO isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations as much as the strategy and long-term implementation of new ideas. Because they are overseeing the entire business’s IT solutions, they have to be agile, flexible, and experienced.

Traditionally, the CIO is an employee of the company. However, it can be hard for many SMBs to hire a full-time information officer, who requires a high salary. Therefore, many businesses choose to employ a virtual officer. This allows the business to save money without sacrificing quality.

Assessing the Company’s Current Technology

When you first get in touch with your vCIO, they will analyze your company’s current technology strategy to find out where you’re doing well and what improvements might be necessary. Some of the aspects they might investigate include your productivity software, your methods for keeping track of inventory, your accounting system, your customer relationship management systems, and your business intelligence tools.

They will also check whether your company has implemented enough cyber security measures and how your customers’ sensitive data is stored. If there are any problems, your officer will let you know and help you come up with a better plan. Over the next weeks or months, they will implement advanced solutions and improve the way you integrate technology into your business.

Improving Cyber Security

Cyber security is one of the most important aspects of technology management because it can have such an impact on your operations. A breach in security or a data leak can not only cost you thousands, but it can also put your reputation at risk, since your customers might no longer trust you with their sensitive information. Your vCIO will check that you are doing all you can to protect your data.

Some of the strategies they might use include implementing authentication factors like two-factor authentication, improving your infrastructure so it can handle enhanced security options, conducting phishing simulations with your employees, and organizing training courses for everyone in your company. Your CIO will also focus on remaining agile, since the tactics used by cybercriminals change rapidly.

Implementing Complex Solutions

Sometimes, complex solutions are necessary to optimize the use of technology within a firm. For example, you might need bespoke software if you’re providing a unique service, or you might want to use a customized ERP system. Your CIO will coordinate large-scale projects and help you manage each stage, from the initial planning to the execution and maintenance.

At Flying Buttress, our managed It services business we have over 80 combined years of experience, and we have built up a lot of expertise during that time. What’s more, we have the necessary contacts to complete projects and we can recommend excellent designers. In the long run, letting an expert plan your complex technology solutions is cheaper and easier than attempting to do it yourself.

Handling Issues Related to Compliance

As technology has taken over many areas of our lives, it has become more difficult for governments and companies to handle. For this reason, more and more guidelines and specifications have been developed. A good example of this is data protection legislation. In the US, there isn’t a single law that governs data protection, but instead, there are hundreds of regulations, both at the state and at the federal level, that are meant to protect people’s data.

In other countries, the rules might be different. Managing customers’ data can quickly become overwhelming for businesses, especially those that operate in several states or multiple countries. By hiring a CIO, you can hand over the responsibility to someone who has been trained to handle it, and you can therefore reduce your risk of making a mistake.

Do You Need a VCIO?

Now you understand what a virtual CIO does, you might wonder whether your company could benefit from hiring one. While it depends on your individual situation, most SMBs with more than a handful of employees could increase their revenue and reduce their risk by planning their technology solutions more carefully.

A good virtual information officer is an invaluable asset that allows your business to get the help you need and save money at the same time. Additionally, hiring an IT service company allows you to take a flexible approach, so you can adapt to changes in your industry and the wider business environment.

You Need the Help

Most small businesses handle their own data at the start, and they don’t need any help. However, this changes once they hire several employees and increase the complexity of their technological solutions. If you have a small company with a few employees, you could benefit from the top-down approach a CIO provides. As your company becomes more well-known, the officer can make sure that you don’t run into compliance or cybersecurity issues.

You Want to Save Money

Unfortunately, hiring a full-time CIO can be extremely expensive. In the US, the average salary for this position is $170k, and the most experienced officers can earn over $250k per year. For many SMBs, spending that kind of money on a single employee is impossible. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a great CIO. There are virtual solutions available for almost every budget.

An online CIO doesn’t have to be a person. Instead, it can be a company offering top-down technology solutions. For SMBs, this can be a great solution because they can benefit from the same services offered by an information officer but at the fraction of the price. A managed IT service provider works with many companies at once, so the costs can be split.

You Want to Remain Flexible

At the moment, market conditions are changing rapidly, and there is no guarantee that your company will still be providing the same services in a few years’ time. If you want to survive in the long term, you have to be flexible and open to change. Hiring a virtual information officer can be a great first step because they will look at your company’s technology solutions from a long-term perspective.

The plan they come up with will span many months or even years, and it can be adapted to your company’s changing needs. What’s more, when you work with a virtual service company, you can change your plan whenever you need to. If your company grows, you can switch to a more comprehensive service, and if you change your specialty, you can request different solutions. This is a much more flexible approach than hiring an in-person CIO.

How to Find the Best Chief Information Officer for Your Company

Once you’ve decided that hiring a CIO is the right move for your company, you’ll have to find one that suits you. Because this position is remote, you don’t necessarily have to hire someone from your own geographical area. Instead, you can browse CIOs from all over the country and select the one that suits you the best. Start by looking at the website of candidates to figure out whether they could be a good fit.

Most CIOs specialize in a certain industry, and you want to make sure the person or entity you’re hiring has worked with clients in your field before. For instance, we at Flying Buttress mainly serve the Architecture, Engineering, and Design community.

Hiring a CIO

Before you hire a CIO, you should get in touch with the company, either by email or by phone to find out whether they are a good fit. During this initial contact phase, you can assess their communication style, and you can also ask them questions about their previous experience, their other clients, and their process. If necessary, you can ask for references.

For many successful or rapidly growing companies, a virtual CIO is an excellent solution because this professional can perform a range of advanced technological tasks. The Chief Information Officer might assess and improve the business’s current technology, improve cyber security, and handle compliance issues. Contact us to find out more about our vCIO services and to book a strategy call with us.

Filed under: Blog, Network

What Computer Technology Do Architects Use?

best architecture software

Architecture is a career that has attracted creative, design-oriented minds for centuries, and in that time the profession has undergone countless changes as it adapts to the technology available to the architects of the day. In an age in which computer technology has revolutionized the ways in which every profession works, this means architects are always on the hunt for the best architecture software to help them get the job done.

Indeed, something that has not changed in architecture is that the end goal is for the architect to be able to design and share their ideas, and eventually to see them come to life out in the world when they are built. This is why, in this article, we will explore how modern architects use computer technology and then take a look at some of the most popular architecture software available to architects working today. Read on to find out more!

Notes on the Best Architecture Software: What Computer Technology Do Architects Use?

What Do Modern Architects Do?

Many people have an archetypal image of an architect as a professional hunched over a large blueprint on a drafting table, designing buildings both cutting-edge and functional to populate the skylines of our cities and towns. While there may be some truth to this, there is a lot more to being an architect in the present-day job market than many people probably know about, and changes in technology have more or less removed the need for that big drafting table.

For example, modern architects can now choose from a wealth of computer programs and different technologies to help them design buildings and work on projects. Nowadays, more often than not, architects use computer technology to create highly detailed, accurate, and easy to understand plans and specifications for the buildings they are working on, which will then help the rest of their team (engineers, designers, etc.) to actualize those plans.

How Do Architects Make Use of Computer Technology in Their Day-to-Day Jobs?

In many ways, computer technology has streamlined many aspects of the work that architects do, creating more opportunities for their unique abilities and ideas to shine through and inform the work of other members of their team. For example, computer technology can be used by architects to run simulations to better understand the complex structures that they design and work on, and to create presentations with which to share their findings.

More specifically, though, computer technology can be used by architects to quickly and accurately create 2-dimensional construction documents and to render detailed 3-dimensional models of their plans. Where these kinds of documents used to require a lot of time and effort to draw out by hand, architects can now render detailed models of entire buildings, or sections of them, to accurately demonstrate the use of lighting, texture, and design in that building.

What Computer Technology Do Architects Use?

As mentioned above, there are a huge variety of tasks that architects can use computer technology to assist with. They can use 3D printers to create prototypes of their designs, or different programs that can run calculations on building specifications or that quickly pull up existing information on things like environmental regulations and zoning rules in areas that they are designing for.

Homing in on the creation and modeling of their designs, however, one of the most commonly used and useful computer technologies available to architects is a technology known as CAD, which is short for Computer-Aided Design. This is a powerful technology, and one which allows architects to avoid (if they wish to) the often-arduous task of designing buildings by hand, as they used to have to do!

What Is Computer-Aided Design (CAD)?

Computer-Aided Design, or CAD, is a revolutionary technology in the field of architecture. Not only does it more or less eliminate the need for hand-drawn designs, but it also provides architects with a suite of additional features that can make their designs more effective and more easily understood and analyzed by other members of their team and by their clients. This allows for a new transparency in their designs that did not exist to this extent. before

Some of the powerful functions of Computer-Aided Design programs include architects being able to create and present different variations and design layers to their work, and to create renderings so realistic that they can demonstrate everything down to the way the lighting interacts with the design elements in individual rooms. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of CAD programs’ functionality for modern architects!

What Other Functions Does CAD Have?

Once a design is built in a CAD program, architects can create animated walk-throughs (or fly-throughs) to help present their designs to clients, providing a new level of immersion and visualization to the design process. Additionally, the architect can edit or add new elements to the design even once it has been built, and the program will update the design automatically, allowing for real-time changes to be made according to the client’s wants and needs.

CAD programs can also help architects to keep track of all of the different layers of design and data that go into creating a functional building plan, but which a client may not necessarily be looking to see on their virtual walk-through. This includes digital models of the building’s underlying structure, ductwork, plumbing, and more. There are a wide variety of CAD programs available to meet the needs of any architect, including the following programs.

SketchUp: Easy-to-Use and Functional

One of the first widely available 3D modeling programs, SketchUp (formerly known as Google SketchUp) puts an emphasis on being user-friendly, while still maintaining an impressive range of design features. The program operates via a patented, easy-to-use “Push and Pull” method, which allows users to easily create 3D shapes and designs out of flat surfaces simply clicking and dragging an item until it looks how you want it to look.

SketchUp’s easy learning curve makes it a great program for architects looking to create quick, effective 3D models of their designs, allowing for the creation of buildings, rooms, and even the population of those rooms with furniture. SketchUp is available in a freeware version (SketchUp Free) but can be upgraded to a premium version (SketchUp Pro) that comes with more of the functions that many architects find useful in their professional lives.

AutoCAD: The Most Recognized CAD Program

AutoCAD, like SketchUp, is a Computer-Aided Design program that allows users to create 2D and 3D models of their designs, with myriad possibilities for what you can develop and present. AutoCAD was created by one of the biggest names in architecture software, AutoDesk, and has since become one of the most recognized and widely-used CAD programs in the industry.

Part of the reason AutoCAD has become a standard in the industry is the wealth of features that make designing and creating models easier and more accurate. These features include automatically centering lines, offering multiple views of 3D models, photorealistic lighting in models, and more. AutoCAD is a perfect choice for architects looking to bring their ideas to life without sacrificing any of their plan’s dimensional specifications or accuracy at all.

Revit: Augmenting Designs with Building Information Management

While Revit is similar to CAD programs like SketchUp and AutoCAD in some respects, it is technically classified as a Building Information Modeling (BIM) program. BIM programs focus more on the creation and management of data around design, construction, and management of buildings, so it can be used by the multi-disciplinary teams that collaborate to design and create buildings.

For architects, then, Revit has the benefit of being a program which can support their plans throughout all the phases involved in the design and construction of a building. Revit was created by AutoDesk, the same company which created AutoCAD, and is often used together alongside programs like AutoCAD to design, create, and actualize architects’ plans and ideas.

Newforma Project Center: Managing and Sharing Designs and Projects

Newforma is a web-based program which allows architects (and the rest of their team on construction projects) to share designs, information, and data with one another in an easy-to-use and accessible interface. It allows team members to review and mark up designs from different locations, and to request approval for updates and changes. This feature is especially helpful for architects working in the age of work-from-home and remote offices!

While this program is not a Computer-Aided Design program per se, many architects find it an invaluable companion to the designs they create in CAD programs, as it allows their team to manage the immense amount of data and specifications that is required for architectural designs and construction projects.

These are just a few examples of some of the best architecture software available to architects today. In a rapidly changing industry, the options and possibilities for professionals are endless and ever-evolving. For help finding the perfect technology solutions for you or your business, and for IT and technology support that you can count on day or night, If you are considering a manager it support provider, we hop you consider Flying Buttress.

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Gen 2 AED IT Leadership

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As troublesome as it is to write this – I’m entering my third decade of IT in the AED space – it does allow me some sense of perspective.  There is a change underway in our IT leadership, and it is an opportunity for firms to step up their game, tech-wise.

For as long as I’ve known CIOs in design firms, they’ve always “fallen” into the CIO role.  They were Architects with some level of technical expertise or interest, one thing led to another, and boom – CIO.  Larry Rocha at WATG.  Ken Young at HOK.  Even Joseph Joseph of Gensler, with a deep IT background, started as an Architect.

If you consider the timelines involved, it makes sense.  While our industry didn’t accept the shift to digital as quickly as some others, once the ball started rolling, it started rolling quickly.  In a rush to catch up/get current, firms first looked internally for whoever had even a basic understanding of pcs, servers, and networking.  I’ve heard stories of people being tapped on the shoulder just due to their knowledge of WordPerfect.

It worked for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, these trailblazers were already familiar with the unique culture of design firms. Second, their knowledge of the business allowed for close alignment of technology with firm leadership. Maybe not all spending was optimal, maybe there were skinned knees from the learning process, but it was an effective, practical solution.  This differs significantly from other support groups such as HR or Accounting.

The downside – if there was one – is that people were needing to learn a new career from scratch.  They had gone to school to be Architects, and now a significantly different path lay before them.  For many instances where technology was truly someone’s passion, I’m sure there were those who accepted the role because it was a safe landing space for continued employment.  For some, with a decent-sized pay raise.

These leaders – predominantly white and male – just a side note – started entering into their 50s and 60s in the 2010s.  As they transition into (happy!) retirement, firms now have a wider range of choices for their replacements.

The good news is that we are now seeing the first wave of “pure” technical professionals.  Those who always intended to have a career in technology.  Those who have an existing knowledge base accompanied with a passion for the work.  And in many cases, they can still come from within AED firms.  If we consider the Larry Rochas of the world as Gen 1 CIOs, the time is now for Gen 2.  IT from the ground up.

The pluses are that there will be a deep understanding of technology, the ability to discern cutting edge from bleeding edge, the ability to implement and manage with a lessened reliance on external contractors.  And if they’ve spent their career supporting designers, they’ll understand the culture and the business.

However, even with a common culture, firms have their individual quirks.  One of these is the perception of support groups vs. the designers.  I’ve worked with firms that considered support groups to be monolithic, faceless automatons that just get replaced as needed.  Only the voices of designers held any weight whatsoever.  If this is your firm, a “pure” IT CIO will struggle to achieve that which a “hybrid” CIO can do – even if the hybrid CIO is demonstrably worse – due to the oversized emphasis on a design background.

I’m not passing judgement on that per se; as one of the Morlocks, it’s easier to see that stratification.  Every firm is different.  But I would contend that firms that can promote that pure IT leader – the Gen 2 – will benefit from it.  As much as Gen 1 was critical for the evolution, Gen 2 will be as the Internet Age matures.


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