During a recent trip to Silicon Valley, I had the opportunity to sit down with Michal Lev-Ram of Fortune Magazine, to discuss the emerging Technology Business Management (TBM) category and how CIOs are putting TBM solutions to work to transform their IT organizations. Of particular interest to Michal was Facebook, and the company’s goal of reducing IT spend amidst explosive company growth.

Facebook CIO, Tim Campos, runs an incredibly innovative IT organization.  Tim’s goal is to create an agile workplace in which employees are fully empowered to do their jobs without IT getting in the way. To enable this, Facebook offered employees a wide range of computer accessories and peripherals but struggled with tracking inventory, usage and employee accountability. Mimicking the idea of an airport iPod-dispensing vending machine (spotted by Campos’ assistant), Facebook’s custom-made computer accessory vending machines were born. Writes Michal:

In June, the bulky, rectangular machines arrived at the social networking company's Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters. So now, when Facebook engineers spill coffee on their keyboard (a common mishap) they head to a nearby vending machine instead of hitting up their IT guy or just grabbing a replacement from a nearby cabinet. They swipe their badge, key in their selection and voila—a brand new keyboard drops down for them to take.

 

 

The vending machines provide an important and user-friendly way to help Facebook track the cost of supplying computer accessories to its employees. Apptio helps track these costs and allocate spend back to the appropriate business units. While the items are still offered at no charge to employees, the insight and cost transparency gleaned from the machines and the data provided by Apptio has helped Facebook reduce the cost of managing replacement accessories by about 35% - in only six months.

Apptio has also played an instrumental role in helping Facebook reduce its mobile telecom expenses. With the rise of mobile devices in the enterprise, many companies struggle with managing IT spend on mobile telecom support. Facebook is no different:

Each new hire that comes through the door is given the same choice—iPhone or Android device. Facebook picks up the monthly voice and data tab, but employees receive a copy of their bill each month so they can personally keep track of their usage patterns and corresponding cost to the company (they can even see how they rank relative to their department's averages).

This is where Apptio comes in. Facebook has leveraged Apptio’s reporting capabilities to identify inactive phones still accruing charges, renegotiate service levels and reduce user costs. The company also provides managers and employees with a Bill of IT, which offers comparisons of Facebook’s mobile costs against company and departmental averages. This brand of “social transparency” helps hold employees and managers accountable, and encourages each end-user to monitor and control their own consumption and expenses.

"It's not been perceived as something where the IT organization is coming down on employees," says Campos. "We're just sharing your cost and you get to do what the right thing is."

And doing the right thing is paying off. Since using Apptio to get a handle on its mobile telecom expenses, Facebook has reduced telecom costs per worker by 18% and achieved a realized savings of $1 million. This is the power of the Bill of IT – by giving employees a simple way to see how their behavior impacts costs, they’ll be more proactive in making better decisions.