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Fractional CIOs and CTOs: Leading Digital Transformation

October 30, 2023
By Cara ChatellierOctober 30, 2023

A female executive, who was brought in as fractional talent, speaks to a group about digital transformation strategy.

Your business needs to stay ahead in the digital world. Your chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO) is an important part of your digital transformation. Finding the right person for these key roles is a challenge, and sometimes it can take months to decide. This is where fractional CIOs and CTOs come in. A fractional executive takes over the role until you find a permanent hire and can help with the onboarding and transition process. fractional executives are specially trained to hit the ground running.

These executives can help with specific aspects of digital transformation. Executives are often accustomed to doing things the way they have always done them, and there can be a lot of personal and institutional inertia. Bringing somebody in from the outside can help "shift" that. So, how can one of our MetaExperts help you make the changes you need to thrive in an evolving world of digital transformation?

The Need For Fractional Leadership

Your chief information officer manages all of your company's IT needs. Your chief technology officer develops technological products to sell to your customers or, if you don't sell technology, develops your own website and applications that are customer-facing.

Running without either of these individuals can cause major problems. Improvements will not be made, IT strategy will freeze, and you are likely to end up falling behind in the digital world. As mentioned, though, it typically takes months to find a new CIO or CTO. Hiring an fractional executive ensures that things continue to move forward until you find the perfect new person and also means you don't end up rushing and choosing a poor fit.

Defining the Fractional CIO and CTO

Fractional talent thrives on new experiences and new challenges and have the training to come in and start working quickly. You don't need to spend time onboarding them; good fractional talent can begin working within days. They have the adaptability to quickly understand your company's needs and bring in a wealth of experience from past projects.

They may, for example, have already found the perfect customer management system (CMS) for a very similar business.

Formulating a Digital Transformation Strategy

Fractional CIOs and CTOs skilled at formulating tailored digital strategies. They will take the time to understand your goals and needs as a business, and then use their broad expertise and knowledge of what has and has not worked for others to create the perfect strategy.

Many companies find value in bringing in fractional talent solely to formulate the strategy that in-house staff will then execute, but it is worth keeping them on long enough to help with efficient execution.

Execution of the Digital Strategy

A fractional executive can help you put your digital strategy into action, working with you until you have it solid. They can then move on, although many companies choose to stay in touch with their MetaExpert in a consulting view. This might involve solving a specific problem, such as an insurance company that was having a slew of IT issues including network outages and slow performance. The fractional CIO located the problem, including outdated firewall software and internet browsers, and helped them fix these issues and also update network security.

Or it might be about transforming the customer experience by improving IT and store data management issues. This retail sales company realized a 75% reduction in issues and a 10% reduction in tech support costs.

fractional experts can see problems you had not noticed and can execute strategies that people who are sticking around might be too timid to engage in.

Navigating the Technological Challenges of Digital Transformation

It's part of their job to keep up-to-date on everything and bring the latest trends and information with them. A fractional CIO or CTO already has training that would be expensive and time-consuming to give to your staff. They likely know about the precise product to solve your problems.


Sometimes you only need talent for a specific project. Hiring and onboarding an FTE is far more expensive for a short period than bringing in a MetaExpert. For example, the insurance company above achieved a return on investment in growth of up to tens of millions in the following 13 years.

It is also cost-effective to bring in fractional talent to fill a gap rather than experience significant "catch-up" costs when you hire somebody.

Customized Solutions

It often seems like the easy option to purchase a solution off the shelf. However, a customized solution that meets your unique needs is more efficient in the long term. a fractional CIO or CTO can help design the right solution for you.

Building a Seamless Transition

Using fractional talent might appear as if you have to go through two transition processes instead of one. In fact, because fractional talent is trained to learn about your company quickly, the transition period is a matter of days. When they leave, on their way out, they will help the permanent hire settle in and work towards a smooth transition. They thus take the knowledge from the old person and transfer it to the new candidate.


If your company has complex IT or technology needs your staff can't handle, it might be time to hire a fractional CIO or CTO to lead digital transformation and help move you into the 21st century. fractional talent can also help you out when you are engaged in the lengthy process of finding a replacement.

Our MetaExperts are fully vetted fractional talent. They are trained to hit the ground running and thrive on new challenges. Consider MetaExperts for your digital transformation needs.


About Cara Chatellier

Cara Chatellier is a digital marketing strategist & content writer. She lives in the Boston area and has worked with MetaExperts since October 2018. She loves travel, wine tastings, and podcasts.

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