The traditional responsibilities of the CIO would be better handled by two separate top executives, according to a survey of 1,000 managers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

According to the study, carried out by consultants Detecon with the help of Germany's hi-tech association Bitkom, companies need a stronger separation between IT demand, which identifies which IT is required for the business, and IT supply, which implements IT services.

Such a split is considered important at a time when the role of IT and its potential contribution to a business are becoming more critical.

Among companies that have such a division, 84 pc said they had improved their customer focus, while 82 pc cited lower IT costs and higher quality.

In such an organization, the role of the CIO is split between a Chief Process Officer (CPO) in charge of strategy and the management of business and IT processes; and a Chief Technical Officer (CTO), who is responsible for implementation and development of IT services.

"Such a new organizational concept requires new areas of responsibility, new roles and new activities," said Bern Wolter, managing consultant at Detecon.

The study also identified shortcomings in companies' internal IT cooperation. Only 42 pc of the executives interviewed said they had a highly mature IT governance in their companies.

Detecon is a divion of T-Systems, which belongs to Germany's Deutsche Telekom.