Who thinks the CIO knows what’s best for the business? The CIO maybe, but few others, if a new survey is to be believed.

The idea that the CIO is failing to articulate the value of the IT department to business is reinforced by a global survey of CIOs and C-level execs by analyst house Ernst and Young.

While nearly two thirds (60 per cent) of the CIOs questioned thought that they “add strong value” to corporate strategy just 35 per cent of their C-suite peers agreed.

While IT has a role in nearly every area of the business today the report found that many CIOs lack the business expertise to communicate its worth to the executive team.

IT leaders are also struggling to improve their corporate reputation: only just under half (48 per cent) of the C-suite said the input of CIOs has improved in recent years, when questioned on issues ranging from product innovation to improving operational agility.

Maureen Osborne, Global CIO of Ernst & Young said: “In order to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving technological landscape, CIOs will need to break out of their comfort zones within the data centre. Those who don’t, will run the risk of being further relegated down the corporate hierarchy, or sidelined altogether.”

Most business leaders aim to keep any discussions with the CIO centered on IT budgets, ignoring the chance to engage in a wider discussion about the value of technology, the report found.

This lack of support from the executive team was a major issue for nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) of CIOs, and was felt to be a more acute issue in companies with revenues of over $1bn.

The CIOs surveyed felt that moving board level conversations beyond IT budgets and onto IT value will require them to engage more with the CEO and business leaders beyond the CFO.

Of course: engaging fellow business leaders is easier said than done. An executive recruitment specialist recently told TR that if CIOs are to articulate the important of IT to the CEO they must become an expert in every major domain of the business.

Dave Ryerkerk, Ernst & Young Global IT Advisory Leader said that actions speak louder than words and advised that CIOs secure “the chance to support a major business project of some kind, which can, in turn, make a specific impact on how the rest of the business operates.

“Once business leaders start to recognize an IT leader as someone who can transform the way they operate their business, perceptions can quickly start to shift. This will be especially clear if the resultant changes in the business operating model impacts top line revenue growth.”

The DNA of the CIO report, is based on a survey of over 300 senior IT professionals globally, also draws on in-depth interviews with a further 25 CIOs and 40 respondents from across the rest of the C-suite.