#40 ServiceNow’s Vijay Kotu on the Power of Micro-Decisions and Aligning Data Strategy to Business Strategy

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Every day we make decisions. Some are as simple as deciding when to leave for work in order to beat traffic or what to eat for breakfast. Others bear much greater importance, such as what new products to launch or what new markets to tackle. Analytics plays an important role in helping your business make these decisions in a smarter, more data-driven way.

Vijay Kotu is the SVP of Data and Analytics for ServiceNow, a company that is helping enterprises manage digital workflows. In this episode of the Data Chief, Vijay discusses how he is building a high-growth “mathematical enterprise” where frontline workers are empowered to make smarter business decisions with data and AI. He also speaks about the impact of ecosystems, the need for businesses to have a holistic view of their data in order to create positive outcomes, and why being intentional about analytics use cases is absolutely essential.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t underestimate the impact of micro-decisions: We all want to be more data-driven, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that data and analytics can only be applied to once-a-quarter, boardroom-level decisions. Enabling frontline employees to be more data-driven in their everyday work is a hugely powerful way to make a positive impact across your entire business.
  • Evaluate how data can improve workflows: The holy grail of analytics is converting insights to action. One of the most effective ways to do this is by automating workflows whenever and wherever possible. With automation, you help everyone in the business be more efficient without adding any extra work or manual decision-making.
  • Data becomes exponentially more powerful when it’s connected: Having all of your proprietary data in one place is a great way to start your data journey but it becomes exponentially more valuable when you connect it to outside data sources. Bringing together multiple sources of data gives you even richer insights about your customers, employees, and products.
  • Data serves the business: At the end of the day, your data goals should align with that of businesses. Data and analytics professionals must remember that data is there to serve sales, marketing, product, IT, etc. into making better decisions for the business. They are the ones running the functions and the data and analytics teams are the backbone of that. Therefore, data teams should be designing products with that in mind.

Key Quotes

“The purpose of analytics is to help us make decisions, is to create decision-making capabilities across the company. The next step was to find out what those decisions are that we would need to make? When I say decisions, these are not like once in a quarter, boardroom decisions. I’m talking about everyday decisions that many of our colleagues make every single day.”

“Data just in one place, it’s less valuable. But when you connect it with other data points that you have, it becomes even more valuable.”

“What are you going to do with those insights? That would be the actions. If these insights are helping you make a decision, how do we actually put that decision in action is closing the loop. That has been the Holy Grail of analytics. Rather than stopping at insights, you’re closing the loop on helping people do that action here.”

“The things that matter the most for our customers right now is a prioritization decision, and doing really well in those areas will help us reach further in our goal.”


Vijay Kotu is Senior Vice President of Analytics at ServiceNow. He leads the implementation of large-scale data platforms and services to support the company’s enterprise business. He has led analytics organizations for over a decade with focus on data strategy, business intelligence, machine learning, experimentation, engineering, enterprise adoption, and building analytics talent. Prior to joining ServiceNow, he was Vice President of Analytics at Yahoo. He worked at Life Technologies and Adteractive where he led marketing analytics, created algorithms to optimize online purchasing behavior, and developed data platforms to manage marketing campaigns. He is a member of the Association of Computing Machinery and a member of the Advisory Board at RapidMiner.

To hear more about ServiceNow, check out their podcast.

The Data Chief is presented by our friends at ThoughtSpot. Searching through your company’s data for insights doesn’t have to be complicated. With ThoughtSpot, anyone in your organization can easily answer their own data questions, find the facts, and make better, faster decisions. Learn more at thoughtspot.com

Episode 42