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Inside the social network

Divina Paredes | Aug. 21, 2012
Tim Campos may be CIO of Facebook -- a company whose user numbers rival and even top the population of some countries -- but he faces the same quandary as his colleagues across the globe, across industries and organisation size.

He says Facebook reached out to international vending machine providers and told them, "Hey, we have a new idea for how to use your technology but we need you to do something you have never done before."

The system has to be tied with the company's employee directory system and back end reporting on top of this in order to track consumption. One vendor, IBM, he says, jumped at the opportunity to build this vending machine and now has a prototype which is being sold to other companies.

He says Facebook has similar projects with its other technology partners such as Salesforce and Microstrategy, and also with startups.

Campos also looks outside his industry for ideas. While Facebook gets a lot of attention because it is a high tech company and everybody uses it, there is innovation that goes on in IT organisations all over the world, he says.

"I love just seeing what other companies do. It does not have to be relevant or actionable for me in order for it to be valuable."

He cites an experience at a conference two years ago, where he met the CIO of a ski resort. "I had no idea why a ski resort would have a CIO. It didn't make any sense to me but as I listened to his story what he was doing for this ski resort, I was completely blown away."

The CIO told him about the resort's innovative use of RFID tags. "They integrate the tags into the ski passes," says Campos. "With that technology, they could track where people hang out in the resort. They now reduce operational cost by deploying staff in the areas where the customers congregate."

"At the ski lifts, they started to collect data about what their customers were doing. This gives them an idea who is a good skier, who spent time on the basic slopes and how much time they spent skiing They could use all this information to better tailor their services and their ski resort for their customers," Campos says.

The new frontier

This meeting stands out for Campos because it tackled what he says is a "core passion" -- analytics.

"Data is the new frontier," he says. "Data provides a new opportunity to return to the mid-90s, when innovative use of technology can provide significant differentiators for users."

Read about the special report on the CIO Summit: In sync with change

He says networked enterprises today already have access to tremendous amounts of data. "There are more pieces of data online today than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the world put together."


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