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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.

"The ubiquity of cloud computing and connectivity has enabled us to be completely surrounded by information," he says. "It is a matter of tapping it and unlocking its potential. The data is unique to our companies, the context is there."

For CIOs, this presents an incredible opportunity to change their focus from the last 10 years of relentless drive for cost efficiencies, to creating value for the business, he says.

This perspective can be applied, for instance, in an IT support system. If a computer breaks, this incident doesn't become data until it is captured by the system in the form of a ticket. "Once it gets into a system it produces data. Now we can do stuff with it," he says. "We can start asking a whole bunch of questions," he says. "How many laptops are breaking? Who owns these laptops?

"We can look at other types of aggregates. What is the performance on fixing these issues? How many times do we exceed SLAs in addressing them?

"It gets interesting when you start generating insights that correlate data. Insights are hugely valuable. Once you have that you can then use insights to build predictive models."

Using these insights from its corporate data, Facebook has "a rough idea how much we want to grow in the next couple of years", says Campos.

So where does he see the CIO role going?

He says that for the past 10 years, "The game in IT has been everybody has got it, so make it cheaper, faster and more efficient. And to be quite frank, it has been operational and not particularly innovative."

In many companies, he says, "IT is a bad word". For instance, in some companies there is a fear of calling the help desk because it creates more problems than it solves.

He describes BYOD, for instance as "the failure of the IT department to provide the equipment that the people need".

"They basically outsourced the selection and the support and maintenance of the equipment to the employees."

"But what is happening now is the tech is becoming so commoditised you don't need the IT organisation of the past at all. The sales organisation can go to, they can set it up on their own, they don't need an IT organisation. The finance organisation can approach NetSuite and they can go build an ERP in a few days and they don't need an IT organisation.

"The HR organisation can go to Workday and they can get everything that they need there."

But someone has to look at data across the system and how it is going to come together in order to be able to address strategic business decisions. "The one role in the organisation that knows how to take advantage of that is the CIO, the head of IT," says Campos. "That is what the next generation CIOs are going to have to deal with. They have to be a lot more information focused, more data focused, less operationally focused."


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