Almost a third of CIOs in the UK are considering the role of COO or CEO as their next career step according to Deloitte's first international CIO survey, which also suggested pressure is being lifted on the budget constraints of IT departments.

The study of more than 700 CIOs, which included 90 IT executives in the UK, revealed that 31% of CIOs are eyeing up the post of COO and CEO at their organisations rather than a sideways move to another C-level IT role.

Head of Deloitte's technology consulting practice Kevin Walsh said: "The CIO has never played a more prominent role in the boardroom, nor have they had more opportunities to get closer to the strategy of their business than now.

"Some IT leaders are already playing a far stronger role at executive level; this is underpinned by the finding that almost a third of British CIOs are considering a CEO or COO role as their next career move."

The leading responses for wanting to change roles were making a greater contribution to the business (27%) and a new challenge (26%).

According to the research, 78% of UK CIOs reported their budgets have either increased or stayed the same - in line with international trends and reflecting increased investment in developing the skills of IT staff. In CIO magazine's own CIO Priorities survey in June, it was reported that 69% of budgets had remained the same or increased.

However, Deloitte reported many respondents struggle to change perceptions of IT as a mere provider of routine IT services and educate business leaders on where it can add real value. Only 19% in the UK responded their organisations see the IT function as a credible hub of innovation.

CIOs also reported being held back by a skills shortage, with nearly six in 10 indicating they were experiencing problems recruiting staff - in particular those that can 'think like the business, think strategically and communicate effectively'.