Board-level awareness of the benefits IT can bring to the business is increasing, according to the annual CIO Census from ITdirectors group CIO Connect.
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Although fewer chief information officers are reporting directly to chief operating officers, down from 15% to 10%, the number of UK-based CIOs reporting directly to international CIOs based outside the UK has increased from 4% to 9%.
CIO Connect said this showed the extent to which multinationals are taking a holistic, global view of their IT activities because of the need to consolidate costs and to achieve greater agility on an international scale.
The study, sponsored by business intelligence firm SAS, surveyed 122 CIOs from a range of industries and the public sector.
Forty per cent of CIOs report directly to the chief executive or managing director. This figure has not changed since last year's CIO Census.
The degree of top-level support for IT remains high: more than 50% CIOs believe their chief executive has a strong understanding of IT, and 59% think the board sees IT as a way of managing and growing the business.
IT often makes it onto board agendas, according to nearly 60% of CIOs, and 80% believe support from the chief executive is necessary for a project to succeed.
CIO Connect said understanding between IT and the board needs to be a two-way street. "If senior company directors want IT to have a greater appreciation of the business and its key objectives, and need the IT department to be more aware of profit and revenue growth targets and budget restrictions, they must ensure that the CIO at the very least is taken into their confidence.
"Demanding a commercially aware head of IT and then not giving them access to commercial information would be perverse."