One in three CIOs may not survive the next two years because they fail to develop the skills to deal with the increasing integration of IT and their company’s wider business, Gartner’s global head of research Peter Sondergaard has warned.

In an interview with ComputerworldUK at the Gartner ITxpo in Cannes, France, Sondergaard said that there was a great opportunity for CIOs as IT and the wider business became increasingly integrated.

In many companies, CIOs were “taking on new responsibilities and moving towards assimilation, where the CIO has responsibility for larger scale corporate projects, business innovation, business process management or maybe even have responsibility for parts of the organisation [such as] customer services”, he said.

CIOs were taking on “more non-traditional IT responsibilities – in our view that’s the right thing”.

The extra responsibilities required “a more complex skillset”, Sondergaard said, adding that Gartner was seeing “fantastic skills among some CIOs that show they can do this”.

But he added that “not all” CIOs were able to take the opportunity. “Half of CIOs either have, or have the opportunity to develop [the required skills], he said.

There were “a third of CIOs that perhaps will not survive the next couple of years”, because they failed to gain the added business skills they needed, Sondergaard said.

He warned: “Either you look at that as a development opportunity of your job or give up, because that’s the reality.”

Despite the trend for IT and the business to become more tightly integrated, there was a danger they “could get pulled apart”, Sondergaard added.

Business leaders could bring technologies such as Web 2.0 or software as a service into the enterprise independently, if the IT department did not keep pace with their demand for innovation, he warned. “If IT doesn’t understand this [the business] may not need IT. There are more and more things the business could do without IT.”