CIOs need to "immediately" assess their role as Gartner reveals there are more chief digital officers (CDOs) in the UK on average than internationally.
Nine percent of UK respondents said their business had recruited a CDO in comparison to just six percent across the rest of the world.
Research director Lee Weldon said that CIOs are at a "crossroads" and quickly need to consider whether they should step in to push digital strategy within their business or stay as a back-office technologist.
He said: "I think CIOs need to be very aware of what is going on and immediately be willing to engage. Right now if the CIO is very focused on traditional IT and have their hands full with that they need to be proactive about bringing someone in. In other words, don't let it happen to you so you have to react, but engage from the very beginning.
"I don't think the CDO is a threat unless the CIO treats it that way - it won't be a winning battle."
The longevity of the CDO role has been debated since its inception. Weldon said: "The verdict is still out on whether the CDO is a permanent or a transitionary role. You might have these for a few years and then they might move back into strategy heads for the business or move back into their CIO roles."
Gartner's findings present a shift from investments in emerging markets as their growth has begun to slow. Markets like the UK and Ireland have now turned their money to IT and technology innovation and agility on home soil.
The survey confirmed the changes to outsourcing in IT departments across the world. In the UK, 20 percent of suppliers are mainly insourced but 68 percent said they were planning "new relationships".
Weldon said: "Enterprises are no longer using a small number of big providers but increasingly prioritising smaller players to push innovation."
Further, 28 percent of UK businesses are investing in the cloud, which is just ahead of the global average which was 25 percent.
A total of 2,300 CIOs were surveyed by Gartner, 184 of which were from the UK.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.