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From Different Leadership Vantage Points: Data Drives Value but is Driven by Values

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One way to think about data is that it is like rain, and it is pouring outside. Imagine c-suite executives running around in a parking lot with huge buckets trying to capture as much as they can. Afterward, they return to the office, analyze the data, and then decide what to do based upon their discoveries.

But in this example, it’s not about how many buckets you come back with, it’s what’s in the buckets that matters most. Data is interpreted based upon a person’s values. In fact, certain types of data are acquired, or discarded, because of someone’s core principles -— their guiding light as to how they see the world and their role in it. Entire companies make decisions about how to use data based upon their mission. It all comes down to values whether at the personal level or at the overall company level.   

In business, data is leaned on because it is measurable. Data is useful, no doubt. It can guide decisions. But, really, the heart of decision-making is about a leader’s values. The underlying question is: What do you believe in? 

On this episode of IT Visionaries, guest host, Michael Rivo, Director, Salesforce LIVE, Virtual Events Content & Platform at Salesforce, is joined by Kimberly Paige, EVP and CMO of BET, and Dan Torunian, VP of Employee Technology &Experiences at Paypal. They discuss how their intuition and values drive how they use data and help make decisions for their respective companies.

Takeaways:

  • Data Drives Decisions: Data is driving decisions all across companies. At BET, it is being used to adjust brand marketing. At Paypal, it is being used to increase the wellbeing of employees so that they can, in turn, serve customers more effectively. 
  • Data Versus Instinct: Using data to make decisions certainly is important. Striking a balance between using data and using intuition is key for good leadership. It’s ideal to find an even balance between both data and intuition, while leaning slightly on common sense.
  • Collaboration Through Mission: Shared values and a shared mission creates collaboration and helps break down silos of people and data. Data can be used to support a company’s mission, but values are the foundation. It’s important to remember that values are at the core of everything, including how data is gathered, interpreted, and acted upon.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article 

One way to think about data is that it is like rain, and it is pouring outside. Imagine c-suite executives running around in a parking lot with huge buckets trying to capture as much as they can. Afterward, they return to the office, analyze the data, and then decide what to do based upon their discoveries.

But in this example, it’s not about how many buckets you come back with, it’s what’s in the buckets that matters most. Data is interpreted based upon a person’s values. In fact, certain types of data are acquired, or discarded, because of someone’s core principles -— their guiding light as to how they see the world and their role in it. Entire companies make decisions about how to use data based upon their mission. It all comes down to values whether at the personal level or at the overall company level.   

In business, data is leaned on because it is measurable. Data is useful, no doubt. It can guide decisions. But, really, the heart of decision-making is about a leader’s values. The underlying question is: What do you believe in? 

On a recent episode of IT Visionaries, guest host, Michael Rivo, Director, Salesforce LIVE, Virtual Events Content & Platform at Salesforce, was joined by Kimberly Paige, EVP and CMO of BET, and Dan Torunian, VP of Employee Technology & Experiences at Paypal. They discussed how their intuition and values drive how they use data and help make decisions for their respective companies.

Though Paige and Torunian work in very different companies and areas of the c-suite, one commonality between them is their use of data to make decisions. In terms of marketing, Paige explained how data drives her strategy at BET. 

“What becomes really important in some of those conversations [is] the power of the brand,” Paige said. “Based on some recent research around the health of BET as a brand, the trust and the credibility that we have with this highly-coveted black audience as well as lovers of black culture, I made a choice and really sat down with the president and sales and said, ‘As you guys are having these conversations, especially by way of these sponsorship opportunities, yes, the specific content titles and who we’re reaching every day, night, overnight is important, but the context of where their content shows up is equally important.’” 

Paige also described how data is important at BET in terms of how consumers are interacting with content.

“Obviously, every day we’re getting ratings,” Paige said. “We’re getting information. We’re getting data around when consumers are coming into a show, [and] how long are they staying in the show? Exactly what point did they leave a show? All of those give us insights that allow us to get better because at the end of the day, it’s all about retention.”

For Torunian, his use of data is to better the employee experience. In turn, as a company that focuses a great deal on customer service, the customer experience then improves as well. 

At their core, employees really want to do four things,” Torunian said. “They want to perform their role. They want to grow in their careers. They want to know what’s happening in their company, in their organization, their location, and they want to be able to celebrate and be part of a team and our community. So by taking an employee 360 view to our data, that allows us to deliver simple and tailored, delightful experiences at each of those steps in the employee journey. And I think that’s the crux of how we see data playing a role in our employees’ ecosystem.”

Whether delivering helpful experiences to employees or quality content driven by data, it’s equally important to lean on intuition as a guidepost. Data by itself is not active. Leaders must make reasonable decisions.

“I’ve always taken the adage, there’s no substitute for common sense,” Torunian said. “I think when you know something to be relatively common and your instincts support that, and you can find other subjective measures to support that, I always feel like you should act on that.”

Paige agreed that leaders must make gut decisions based on their experiences.

“Yes, I’ve used data and definitely understood that starting my career at Procter and Gamble, but I will tell you the big swings sometimes are just really that gut, that instinct, around what consumers are looking for even without them even knowing half the time what they’re looking for,” Paige said.

Good data is important to aid quality decision-making. Intuition based on empathy and experience helps too. The most important aspect in making decisions, however, is having a core set of values. This is just as true for the individual leader as it is for a company that adheres to a clear mission.

“I think just that shared mission and that shared responsibility and obligation we feel for the community we serve really does allow a degree of collaboration and I think sharing of information,” Paige said. “Those things are all critical and foundational to driving transformational growth.”

To hear more about how data, intuition, and mission drive decision-making from two leaders with different company vantage points, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

Episode 310