What does the maker of the world's most popular social network use to communicate with its own employees? At Facebook, the preferred meeting tool (other than its own website) is increasingly a cloud-based videoconferencing service from Blue Jeans Network. Facebook CIO Tim Campos says videoconferencing and other collaboration tools are "one way to preserve our culture" by connecting about 6,000 employees in 50 countries.
How does videoconferencing help Facebook maintain itsculture?
We believe very strongly that the way business gets done is not necessarily how it's organized on an org chart but through connections with other people. We're increasingly geographically dispersed. With sales, the challenge is: How do they represent the company when many of them don't live in the cultural hub--Menlo Park. The sales rep is going out representing Facebook to large brands all around the world. Helping them to understand, live and exhibit our culture is an important part of their job. So we will default to a video call wherever possible. The product organization is looking [to videoconferencing] not just to be able to have productive team meetings but also for the casual walk-up-to-somebody's-desk conversation.
What have you accomplished with videoconferencing?
Meetings are more productive. You can see whether or not the person is understanding and whether they're paying attention. Sales [executives] were able to get together over a [video] call to talk through the details of the budget for next year and make their case for why things should be adjusted. In very short order, they were able to come up with a well-aligned, integrated plan.
What other collaboration tools do you use?
We use an internal variant of Zoho.com for document collaboration. We use Box [for cloud storage], and a ton of other smaller collaboration tools. Unofficially, 20 percent of our workforce uses Evernote. Of course, we have our own wikis internally, and we have a technology called Task, a lightweight task-sharing system [created by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz].
That's a lot of tools. Does it get overwhelming?
Your point is exactly one of our biggest issues. The fact that these systems are all disparate and not integrated is a productivity challenge in itself. Part of employees coming up to speed in the company is learning how the company collaborates and what the social norms are, and it would be great if we could tie these systems together more effectively so you just automatically knew. We're in the process of building it ourselves because there isn't really an uber collaboration-integration capability out there that you can buy. We would love to buy it. If somebody out there came up with a good framework for how to tie collaboration tools together, we'd be the first customers!
Stacy Collett is a freelance writer based in Illinois.
Read more about collaboration in CIO's Collaboration Drilldown.