We live in an age of data. Companies make decisions and valuations fluctuate depending on what the numbers say. It’s a hot commodity in today’s data-obsessed business culture, and technology drives it all.

But the best companies balance that obsession, says media and marketing guru Rishad Tobaccowala, who is the author of “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data.” The most successful companies balance their “company spreadsheet” with humanity.

“Being data-fixated is wrong,” says Tobaccowala. “Smart companies obviously pay attention to data, but the only way they become successful is to actually focus on how are the people doing, what’s the culture of the company?”

What does that mean? In this time of pandemic, his message of a “darker side of bright screens” resonates: Too much screen time is as bad for office workers as it is for kids. “It’s very hard to focus, it’s really hard to build relationships [over screens] and it’s hard to learn,” he says.

Just as work is changing in these times, so is consumer behavior, and Tobaccowala sees opportunity for businesses that embrace new trends. He points to unexpected partnerships between Lysol and Hilton or between Clorox and United Airlines focused on finding ways to protect hotel guests and airline passengers from COVID. “Think about this as though an asteroid has hit the company and there are new fault lines. What have been the fault lines in your business model or your thinking that have been shown over the last 90 days?” Tobaccowala bets it doesn’t just come down to the data.

Watch the interview below with John Battelle and mark your calendar for Signal 2020 on July 15-16. Register here to keep up to date on speaker and session developments!