Dean Nelson, vice president of Global Foundation Services (GFS) at eBay, was one of the four main speakers at the TBM Council’s most recent summit.

eBay has evolved, deepened and broadened in recent years. Expanding from ecommerce to commerce, it now focuses on three core businesses:, the marketplace; PayPal, the payment engine; and GSI Commerce, the fulfillment operations.

With more than 200 internal and external employees at GFS, and a budget of $500 million-$1 billion, Dean is responsible for the heavy data and analytics flow that helps eBay manage $170 billion of commerce across its platform.

As Dean noted, the key question he grapples with every day is: “How do we deliver for our 160 million users?” And, as he made clear, eBay tunes its engine’s performance based on user consumption.

For an IT leader like Dean, that means up-leveling the technology conversation for eBay executives so it tells the complete story, simplifies measurement for the company, and defines an actionable, metric-driven measurement strategy.

The result? eBay’s Digital Service Efficiency dashboard, which bundles standard IT metrics like software, IT infrastructure, data-center infrastructure and power sourcing with company-specific metrics such as top-level business services and business invoices.

Accessible and user-friendly, even for the non-technology manager, the Digital Service Efficiency dashboard slices IT data simply between infrastructure and business; buy and sell; and revenue, performance, cost and environment.

Dean knows his management team well, and it zeroes in on results—not the 0’s and 1’s of code. As an IT leader, Dean has to talk the right language to this audience in order to make sure it fully understands what he and his team are trying to achieve.

Looking back, once eBay management felt it could roll the sum and substance of Dean’s IT data dashboard into the company’s overall models, the conversation between IT and finance became much easier and started focusing on the all-important issue of revenue, rather than abstract and off-putting bits and bytes.

Toward the end of Dean’s very well received presentation, I was particularly struck by the way he articulated several of eBay’s top-line 2013 goals, which are all part of the company’s IT data dashboard “machinery”: Cost Per Transaction (-10 percent); Transactions Per Kilowatt Hour (+ 10 percent); and Carbon Per Transaction (- 10 percent). The 2013 Q1 results that Dean then laid out were impressive, too: Cost Per Transaction (-23 percent); Transactions Per Kilowatt Hour (+ 18 percent); and Carbon Per Transaction (- 7 percent).

This approach definitely reinforces Dean’s view that Digital Service Efficiency is the “mpg” for eBay’s technical infrastructure engine. Your mileage may vary, of course, but you can bet linking technology performance with business outcomes will be a hot topic at the upcoming TBM Conference in November.

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