Data is the new business currency, and Facebook is swimming in gold with over 500 million users providing it with data every day, says Facebook CIO Tim Campos. Giving a keynote speech at the CIO Summit yesterday, Campos says the terabytes of data the social network collects every day from its users is critical in supporting its growth and the products it sells to its advertising and marketing partners.
One example of how Facebook uses what it knows about users is the People You May Know feature which recommends potential friends to users. Campos compares this to Amazon's recommendation engine, which he says grew Amazon's 'unplanned' or impulse-buy online retail sales by 33 percent.
"Our product is unique. In itself it doesn't really do anything. We need you to make friends to really get the most out of it, so it pays for us to know who you may know," says Campos.
Campos demonstrated Facebook's recently added Pages Insights feature to the audience of CIOs. This feature shows brand and marketing managers demographic information and analytics on their Facebook fans and provides tools to help pursue new customers.
When asked where in the business should the data be interpreted, Campos says this should be handled outside of the IT department.
"IT is better at maintaining standards and security," says Campos. "That's why I see IT as managers of the data warehouses and responsible for making and delivering the systems for the data scientists in a timely and effective manner."
In another keynote speech at the CIO Summit yesterday, Paul Strong, CTO of global field and customer initiatives at VMware, advanced another definition of data.
"Data is the source of your differentiation," he said, explaining that a key challenge for CIOs today is how they should leverage big data to differentiate the business.
At the same time, he says, new consumption [of technology services] is changing the technology landscape and expectations of business partners.
For the past 30 years the CIO role has mainly been as chief infrastructure officer, Strong says, but their true role is to deliver technology the business needs at the right price, with flexibility.
CIOs can move from supporting, to enabling new and different business models. With virtualisation and the cloud, CIOs have the opportunity to rethink how they deliver IT, he says.
He says that some of the questions CIOs can work on is how IT can enable new types of businesses, and in this environment he favours the concept of 'fast failure'.
"Failure is the currency of knowledge, but the trick is to succeed quickly, with lower cost and minimum risk," says Strong.
Facebook by the numbers:
900m active monthly users
500m mobile users
500m daily users
125 million new friendships per day
3.2 billion likes and comments per day
300 million photos uploaded every day
10 billion web hits per day
108 billion queries on MySql per day
10TB of data entered into Hadoop systems per day
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