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Why Workplace is empowering a new generation of CIOs

The role of the CIO is changing. It’s no longer just about deploying laptops, it’s about understanding how technology can enable the business. We speak to Facebook’s own CIO, Atish Banerjea, to learn more about this shift and the role Workplace can play in empowering the new generation of chief information officers.

What does it take to run the information technology department at a company like Facebook?

Well, for one thing, it’s not actually called the “IT department.” Atish Banerjea, Facebook’s CIO, is in charge of Enterprise Engineering – and the distinction matters.

“We realized that the work we’re doing for our internal teams at Facebook, the type and the quality of products that we build, require a similar caliber of engineering talent as our external products,” says Atish. “It’s a very engineering-centric function and that’s why we decided to restructure our team and look at the kind of people we hire.”

While Facebook’s focus on engineering might set it apart from some companies, the day to day challenges of Atish’s role would be familiar to almost any CIO. “The standard challenges of running an IT department definitely apply to us,” Atish affirms. “Whether it’s supply chain related, deploying PCs and laptops to employees efficiently or building internal tools for our employees. We have had success building unique tools that make our internal processes more efficient, but the core challenges we are solving are the same as everyone else.”

As virtually all organizations become more data-driven and more dependent on technology, the CIO is becoming the MVP.

But Atish is also well positioned to see how the role of the CIO is changing. As virtually all organizations become more data-driven and more dependent on technology, the CIO is becoming the MVP — and this can bring new problems and pressures.

“In order to successfully play the role of a key technologist within the organization, the CIO has to not only focus on the internal services they’re providing to the organization, they also have to have a very good understanding of the products and services the company is building for their customers. Then they can make sure that wherever technology is an important part of delivering those products or services, they are able to advise key business leaders on how to get the most value from those technologies,” says Atish.

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“…You also have a responsibility to understand digital marketing, the manufacturing process, the information systems or even the financials – all those areas where technology is a big part of delivering the product or service…”

That may require the development of new skills as the CIO gets closer to the core business than ever before. “It’s your responsibility to provide business enablement to the CEO, and that is definitely a new skill. The only way you can do that is to have a new mindset where you’re not just a traditional CIO, you also have a responsibility to understand digital marketing, the manufacturing process, the information systems or even the financials – all those areas where technology is a big part of delivering the product or service to the consumer. Understanding that and enabling that is the role of the CIO.”

This is where Workplace can help. With Workplace, anybody can get visibility into parts of the business that were previously closed to them. But Atish believes the pitch to CIOs goes much further.

“I don’t think of Workplace as internal collaboration, I think of it as a platform. The ability for people to perform their jobs is dependent on Workplace. If I want to talk to a colleague in another part of the company or another part of the world, I use Workplace. If I want to share documents with my colleagues on a project, I use Workplace. It’s a central console with deep integrations with all your other enterprise products.”

The benefits of that, says Atish, should be obvious to any CIO who has run into the usual problems of deploying software. “In the past, all these tools have been isolated. As the CIO you can see that one team is using one thing, another is using something else and you’re sitting in the middle saying, ‘Okay, how do I make sense of this? Where does this fit in my ecosystem?’

“With Workplace the vision is very different and much more powerful in the sense that this is not just social collaboration, it can actually solve the CIO’s problems. By giving them a more integrated environment, you’re enabling the user to be successful in their job versus this being just another fragmented tool that’s not connected to anything else. That’s where we see the power of Workplace.”

With thanks to Atish Banerjea, CIO of Facebook.

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