30th November

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to go to the offices that connects more than 1.7 billion people together in an online network?  I certainly did when I received an invite to go to Facebook offices in London.

This sought out opportunity allowed me to experience firsthand what goes on behind the scenes of the largest social networking site.  I was able to hear from a range of departments; from building bridges between clients and customers through advertisement to protecting and caring for user’s data.  I was also fortunate to learn about the latest trend of augmented reality.  This post is an overview of my experience of what I discovered.

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Photo taken by Gen Ashley @coderinheels

Solving Business Challenges Through Technology Bruce Hazan, Head of Solutions Engineering in EMEA

Advertisement on Facebook enables connectivity between businesses and their customers. Facebook encourages this behaviour by using Canvas which allows businesses to provide a full-screen experience.  By using Facebook, the advertisements are superior and more engaging as they use inbuilt technology; it also entitles the user to interact with the product being sold by swiping through a carousel, tilting the screen for a panoramic and zooming.

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”, Spencer Johnson

A recent retail study by ATKearney mentions that 90% of sales still happen within the physical presence of a shop rather than online which I found to be very surprising.  With this in mind, businesses try to use advertising on Facebook to gauge popularity.  They want to be able to measure their metrics; they want to be able to measure how popular a product might be in advance of footfall so that their supply can meet their demand.  However, the number of times somebody clicks on a Facebook advert is not a very accurate way to measure this.  I was shown the following humorous video that demonstrates this.

One way of being able to generate more online sales is through the use of bots.  Bots inspire brands to create meaningful connections with their consumers in the hope of converting this to a sale.

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An example of a bot used by Nespresso on Facebook

The Importance Of Data, How It Can Improve The Life Of Your End Users Ankita Vimal, Software Engineer

One of the first things that enters my mind when I heard the phrase ‘Protect and Care of Data’ was security.  Security is always a popular news topic of a major international organisation such as Facebook when there has been a breach from hackers.  The thought of your data being leaked to the public is enough to stop you using a service again; this can be detrimental to a company such as Facebook.  However, there are other aspects to protecting and caring of your data such as your privacy settings and being able to report activity.  I was shocked to learn that 75% of reported requests are manually resolved.  I thought this was a significantly high value and not scalable; indeed they have to hire ~5000 people to be able to deal with such requests.

Data driven development also plays a big role at Facebook.  Facebook looks at how the user interacts with their UI by shadowing the movement of the cursor and clicks.  They are also able to get feedback about the user from logging and surveys which provides Facebook with the opportunity to enhance their application accordingly.

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”, Steve Jobs

Bringing Augmented Reality Tech To The Camera in Your Pocket Sammi Krug, Product Manager

Augmented reality readily gets connected with the term wearable technology.  However, this is most certainly not the case at Facebook.  In March 2016, Facebook acquired MSQRD which is an app that produces filters to rival Snapchat’s.  This is a perfect example of augmented reality in your pocket.

MSQRD uses face detection of the eyes, nose and mouth in order to apply an augmented scene around the face.  There are 3 key steps that Sammi mentioned that helped her manage the product:

  1. Decompose the problem

“It’s not complicated, it is just a lot.” This is a phrase that I definitely try to use when tackling a problem.  In terms of augmented reality, the problem is in 3 parts.  There is the 3D object which is the face, there is the high poly mask that is applied to the face and then there is a screen plane that gets placed on top.

2. Play to your strengths

Facebook does this by reaching out to 1.7 billion users on their phones!

3. Look for inspiration everywhere

“Fortune favours the bold”, Cicero

Much like what I saw scattered around the inside of the Facebook building, I have written some of the same motivational quotes on this blog which I found to be inspiring.