Chief information officers are being left out of key IT decisions and sidelined by their boards, in spite of the importance of IT in business strategies.

This is the damning verdict of a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which interviewed 185 executives including CIOs and chief executives across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, on behalf of security firm McAfee.

Under half of CIOs present IT issues in board discussions, according to the report. And 45 percent see their chief executives take the lead on discussions involving technology.

A fifth of chief financial officers represent the IT department in board meetings, and a staggering nine in 10 see IT as simply a support function providing services including security.

Nevertheless, 83 percent of respondents said the profile of the CIO was improving in the eyes of the board, as more executives saw how IT contributed to revenue generation, security and corporate governance.

But CIOs can expect to continue to be tasked with providing more for less, as IT spending on risk management and compliance will not increase in number of firms, even though eight in 10 executives expect the regulatory burden to become heavier.

Clint Witchalls, senior editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the battle for CIOs to be recognised at board level was “not yet over”, adding: “The CIO needs to be careful that the current economic slowdown doesn’t see them regulated to their former role as cost-cutting box-shifters.”

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