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A fractional chief information officer (fractional CIO) is a CIO who may serve in a part-time or contracted capacity. In contrast to full-time chief information officers, these professionals will fill in as needed in order to help make sure that technology systems serve the essential objectives and needs of the business. In general, a CIO's job is to manage all aspects of an enterprise IT system.
A CIO has various responsibilities, which may include all of the issues around sourcing new IT systems for specific business processes, such as manufacturing or sales. CIOs often handle the top-level management of data centers and other parts of a data storage and data management system. This can involve assessing value for cost, designing middleware and distributed systems, or monitoring the use of an enterprise network. The specific job responsibilities and objectives of a fractional CIO depend on what is in place at a corporate office, and how it needs to be functioning in order to support operational goals.
One reason that businesses may hire a fractional CIO is that some of these job roles may not be needed on a consistent 40-hour-per-week basis. Since many CIOs are essentially troubleshooters and project consultants, the business may rely on a part-time, virtual or contracted CIO, rather than having a full-time member. Although the need for a CIO may vary depending on a business's specific needs, some analysts have noted that companies under a certain market capitalization tend to hire fractional CIOs instead of full-time members of leadership teams.