CIOs and CTOs control the digital strategy in 60 per cent of organisations, according to Claranet's latest Innovation in European IT research report.
According to Claranet this is a 'huge opportunity' for IT leaders to take a major role in the future direction of their companies, provided that they are able to balance available resources between innovation and maintain existing service support.
With innovation taking up just 9% of an IT department's time, there is a danger that this opportunity could be lost to just keeping the lights on.
Commenting on the research, Michel Robert, Managing Director of Claranet UK said: "IT leaders have faced challenges from many angles in recent years.
"Constrained budgets have provided limited room for manoeuvre and the relative easy access of cloud computing, has given different parts of a business the ability to procure their own services and applications.
"Given the mission critical nature of IT to business success, this has increased the pressure on IT leaders to become more responsive to business requirements by gaining a better understanding of the key drivers to future success.
"The CIO/CTO needs to really help determine and deliver against the strategy of the business by providing great service today and focusing on innovation - a challenging thing to do.
"That digital strategy is the preserve of IT in the majority of situations is proof of the confidence that CEO's have in the IT department to lead business change."
The pan-European research report, which surveyed 900 IT decision-makers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux, from a range of mid-market organisations, examined trends in IT service provider adoption and asked IT leaders to forecast how their needs would change by 2020.
When asked: 'Which person is responsible for your organisation's digital strategy?' 31% stated that the CIO took the role and 29% stated the CTO. 15% said that the CEO was responsible and only 6% has a dedicated Chief Digital Officer in post.
Michel added: "The strong position in which IT leaders find themselves to guide the future of their businesses, combined with the fact that budgets are set to increase quite significantly in some countries over the next years, means that we can expect to see new levels of innovation across all sectors in Europe.
"In particular, managed services providers (MSP), like Claranet, are well placed to support the CIO/CTO in both the delivery of services today, but also the required innovation. MSPs can really help."