If you’re a CEO it might be wise to keep an eye on your CIO, as they're probably after your job.

That’s according to the 2018 CEO Tracker report, released by specialist recruiter Robert Half.

The report, which researched CEOs of the ASX 200, found that 87% of CIOs are now striving to become the CEO or Managing Director of their company but very few make it to the top.

Meanwhile, 39% of all Australian technology leaders believe the company CIO is the top contender for the CEO role.

Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific, David Jones, said the results are reflective of the increased valuation of technical skills in the current business ecosystem.

“Technology-based skillsets are becoming increasingly influential in developing future business strategies. Today, strategic business decisions are more often than not driven by technology and innovation,” he said.

“Business leaders who want to climb the corporate ladder increasingly understand the importance digitisation has in shaping the future direction of the organisation, highlighting the need for executives to embrace, understand and develop technological acumen.”

As for current CEOs, the research affirmed the importance of a technical skillset.

“Chief executives don’t have to possess a postgraduate degree in computing to lead digital transformation efforts, nor is it necessary for leaders to understand coding,” the report states.

“It is essential, however, to have a finger on the pulse of digital innovations and recognise the possibilities and opportunities they present to the company.

CEOs must look at their operating environment through a “digital lens” in order to succeed with digital transformation.

The road to CEO

But when it comes to making the jump from CIO to CEO, ambition and results are two very different things.

The report found less than 4% get to that level.

Over half (53%) of the CIOs admitted they needed to increase their expertise in how other departments drive business growth, while 43% said they needed to gain more business acumen.

“Many CIOs have the capacity to position themselves as game-changers within their organisation, as the role of technology has increased dramatically in the wider business context,” said Jones.

“Successful CIOs who are aiming for the top job combine their technical know-how with business knowledge.

“They understand the need to build partnerships across the organisation, not just for their future career success, but also to help generate business value from key digital initiatives.”

Rising through the ranks is still the most common pathway, however the report found that 35% of CEOs are recruited externally into the role.