Virtual CIO service – Value generation for SME sectors through collective shared knowledge

CIO alok kumar

CIO has a very vital role in the growth of any company in these times of technology. From someone who was responsible for churning out financial data under the leadership of a CFO to someone who is at equal footing or even more in board room discussions has been the journey of the CIO over last four decades.

Large companies spend a lot of time and money to get an all-round leader to lead their business IT function. The role has become so crucial that company’s sustainability, growth and profitability, all hinge on the ability of the CIO to enable business. While large companies can hire superstar leaders in managing their IT, issue is mainly with small companies who are not very tech savvy and have almost no access to a CIO like person. Several mid scale companies also have been carrying their IT manager who was more of an execution guy than a strategist as a CIO.


“ An informed CIO can help bring down the cost of IT while making the business grow and certainly worth the cost..…”


Without knowing the risk of having someone not capable to lead this function, many of these companies run a risk of loosing out in this era of technology excellence and enablement. These companies end up doing things which either is inefficient, not scalable or just something because it was in their plain sight in absence of someone to advice & guide them appropriately in enabling them better.

I happened to stay in a hotel where the point of sale was a standard system and except for room booking and printing invoices, nothing more could be done. This hotel was listed online but on doing online booking, rooms were not automatically booked in the system. Hotel staff relied heavily in several manual processes to keep track of these things, without knowing that there can be something better. In this process, they missed few overnight reservations already done online ending up loosing customers and not knowing how to control the issue.

On the other hand, a Hotel chain was highly efficient and had far less staff to do the same work even more efficiently, because of effective automation. Moreover, system helped them understand the customer’s previous history and offer them with deals, which generated even more business.

The question of how these small entities can have access to good CIOs still remains. There are niche companies, who provide a virtual CIO like services by helping mid and small scale companies in deciding the IT strategies and helping them execute in a shared mode. An informed CIO can help bring down the cost of IT while making the business grow and certainly worth the cost.

This is something, even larger companies can take advantage of eventually, using he collective wisdom of thousands of CIOs globally.

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Picture Credits : p1cgroup, For representational purposes only

By Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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