Jay Ferro is Chief Information Officer at a large manufacturer based in the U.S. and Canada. In his 25 years as an IT professional, he has held a number of leadership roles, including the CIO position at AIG, Earthlink, and the American Cancer Society.\nIf you distill the diverse activities and functions of any IT department down to their essence, you reach a universally shared objective: using the available budget to deliver the most value across the organization. That\u2019s certainly the core focus for Jay Ferro.\nIn his quest to add business value, Ferro faces a challenge familiar to most CIOs: \u201cThere\u2019s always more demand than supply,\u201d he says, as business requests for IT services will almost always outstrip the IT department\u2019s budget and staff resources.\nTo address this imbalance, Ferro advocates what he refers to as a \u201cself-funding\u201d strategy.\n\u201cBy reducing cost and improving efficiency and effectiveness I can reclaim dollars and repurpose them toward things that will bring the company value,\u201d he explains.\nOne obvious way to accomplish this objective is by embracing cloud-based solutions, he believes.\nFerro acknowledges that his company\u2019s IT department still has some solutions deployed on-premise and cautions that he doesn\u2019t have a rigid attitude of \u201cit\u2019s cloud or nothing.\u201d But his department has invested in a number of cloud-based solutions, ranging from collaboration systems to software development platforms.\n\u201cWith cloud, you get the ease of use, the ability to procure additional infrastructure and spin up environments very quickly without all the pain and wailing and gnashing of teeth,\u201d Ferro says. He notes that cloud solutions are often able to incorporate technologies and features more quickly than IT departments are able to do in their own data centers, and also do a good job of rapidly deploying security patches and upgrading protections.\nMore fundamentally, Ferro says, \u201cThere are certain core functions that an IT organization does that are best served in a cloud model, which, ideally, frees up some level of capacity that you can focus on more value-added investments,\u201d Ferro says. \u00a0\u201cIf there are cloud or SaaS organizations that enable us to do something better, faster, cheaper, or in a more secure way, then we\u2019re failing as CIO leaders to not at least consider them.\u201d\nYou can\u2019t establish spending priorities without end-to-end visibility\nRegardless of whether IT operations are on-prem or in the cloud, Ferro notes, it\u2019s impossible for CIOs to assess the value those operations deliver without end-to-end visibility across both the IT infrastructure and the business operations it supports. Having broad operational visibility is the best way for CIOs to confidently establish spending priorities, and to then get executive-level and business unit buy-in for those priorities.\n\u201cIt\u2019s so helpful when the CIO and the rest of the organization are working off the same sheet of music,\u201d Ferro says. \u201cWhen the CEO sees things the way that you do, and vice versa.\u201d\nStill, Ferro acknowledges that it\u2019s much easier to identify where money is being spent than to determine the payback of that spending. \u201cWhere it gets really interesting to me is when you start having conversations around value versus spend,\u201d he says. \u201cAre we getting what we want out of our investments?\nIn this regard, one increasingly important topic in the company\u2019s ongoing \u201cvalue versus spend\u201d conversations is the need to invest in solutions that protect the organization from cyber threats and fraudulent activities. Here as well, end-to-end transparency and visibility are essential.\n\u201cCompanies that lack visibility into what\u2019s happening in their value chain run the risk of being taken advantage of,\u201d Ferro warns. And, in a world of persistent and sophisticated cyber attacks, the main threats aren\u2019t always coming from outside attackers.\n\u201cIt may just be somebody taking advantage of a broken process and a lack of visibility,\u201d Ferro notes.\nBusiness Spend Management leader Coupa gives companies the visibility, control, and insights they need to better manage their spend, and in so doing, facilitates IT and business unit partnership. For further information about Coupa\u2019s solution, go to https:\/\/www.coupa.com.\nClick here to read this ongoing series of interviews about how the role of the CIO is evolving as digital transformation initiatives mature.