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Five Lessons from Facebook’s CIO

Kristin Burnham | July 19, 2011
Facebook CIO Tim Campos shares five lessons he’s learnt about innovation, and stories about his department's successes and failures.


Lesson 4: Take Pride in Your Successes

Campos says the project he’s most proud of was a system his department introduced to ensure Facebook employees were using their mobile phones — which Facebook pays for — within appropriate limits.

Because the IT department manages the payment of employee mobile phone bills, employees generally weren’t aware of the charges they accrued monthly.

“Rather than putting draconian controls on bills and saying, ‘You can’t spend more than $50,’ we wanted to give managers and employees more visibility into their usage,” he says.

The solution was a telecom expense management system. Every month, employees and managers would receive a report on how their phone usage compared to others in their department and outside their department.

“Based on that, employees could see if they were higher or lower, and then make decisions about whether what they’re doing is OK,” he says.

Since implementing the expense management system, telecom costs have been “significantly” reduced, a Facebook rep says.

This initiative, says Campos, “really showed the power of information, which is what our department is all about — producing information to make business decisions and make the company more effective and productive.”

Owning your wins, he says, is key to continual, successful innovation.


Lesson 5: Consider the Cloud

Campos says Facebook is operating ahead of the technology curve and is currently where most companies are headed, due in large part to their adoption of cloud-based technologies.

“Facebook is really a different planet. From an IT perspective, Facebook grew up with a different stack of IT available to it. We’re a very next-gen tech company from the way we scale our site to everything else,” Campos says. “The majority of our enterprise apps are SaaS-based. We don’t have the same infrastructure investment that other companies do. Our operations team is very small because most of the infrastructure comes from SaaS,” he says.

As a result, Facebook spends less time in the traditional “keeping the lights on” mindset. “We want people to take ownership to drive things,” he says. “That is core to who we are. It’s why Facebook moves as quickly as we do. It’s in our DNA — move fast, be bold.”


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