The CIO has a wider view of the organisation than any other role, and is the best placed of all the C-level executives to move into the CEO role, according to Chris Puttick, information systems consultant for CP1 Associates.
CIOs need to understand the IT systems at every level of an organisation to do their jobs, Puttick explained.
"A CIO's decisions are based on talking to or looking at all sections of the company that could be affected. Whereas all other management types have a more narrow focus."
He added that these decisions, such as what technology to invest in, what systems to change or evolve, or what to outsource, provide the CIO with a more holistic view of an organisation than anyone except the CEO.
But he conceded that many CIOs do not match this description.
"There are a lot of CIOs who report to finance directors, and who keep their noses out of business affairs until they're asked."
Puttick argued that the individual CIO needs to be willing to take a leadership position, but the company also needs to understand the role of the CIO.
"If you put a CIO in a subservient position to finance, then they will let themselves be driven by financial considerations as opposed to taking a leading role in developing the business and its objectives."
He gave the example of a company that treated IT as a commodity, and the CIO as a marketing function.
"I knew of an company where IT reported to marketing. IT was just a thing to them. They failed to realise that their existence as an online retailer meant that they needed someone who was aware of technology trends and changes, and was able to make pro-active decisions.
Puttick concluded that technology must be properly understood in order to provide value.
"A good company doesn't just spend money on IT, it asks how to use it to improve market position, or lower costs. If you don't understand how the technology part fits, then you're just throwing money away."