CEOs and boards have emerged as the favoured custodians of corporate digital strategy, according to the latest Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO survey.

There is overall “less evidence of a turf war over who owns” digital in 2016, the survey found.

“Ownership of the digital strategy has been a contentious issue for chief information officers (CIOs) in recent years, especially where technology is customer facing and the chief marketing officer (CMO) is involved,” KPMG Australia said.

“Moreover, the emergence of the chief digital officer has added complexity to digital influence and in many organisations the strategic reach of digital is viewed as bigger than either technology or marketing.”

For that reason, perhaps, it appears that IT, marketing, and the CDO are losing out to the executive when it comes to digital ownership.

“As more organisations gain experience with digital and understand its strategic impact, ownership is migrating from a functional domain and tactical perspective to the executive level and a strategic perspective,” the survey said.

“Where in the past, digital ownership often resided within IT, marketing or shared by both, it is now firmly in the hands of senior executives.

“C-suite executives now own digital strategy in 21 percent of companies and if you combine it with ones where the board of directors is in control it swells to 37 per cent.”

By comparison, IT owns digital in 16 percent of companies, or shares ownership with marketing at a further 14 percent.

Only in rare cases – 3 percent of all respondents – does digital strategy ownership actually formally sit within a “specific digital function”.

In fact it’s three-times more likely that no one owns digital strategy than it being owned by a “specific digital function”, the survey found.

Part of the reason for this might be a stagnation in the number of chief digital officers (CDOs) being appointed.

CDOs now exist in 19 percent of companies, up from 17 percent last year and 7 percent in 2014. In other words, now that some of the hype around the CDO role has subsided, brakes have also been applied to new roles and appointments.

“With the significant slowdown in growth of the standalone CDO role, and only 16 percent of CIOs ‘owning’ the digital strategy, organisations are taking a more holistic view of the importance of establishing a pervasive digital-first mindset and skillset across their enterprise,” KPMG Australia’s head of digital Guy Holland said.

The survey found overall that 58 percent of respondents reported that their organisation has a clear digital vision and strategy.