This article celebrates my tenth anniversary of writing a monthly column for Information Management.com. My first article was published November 5, 2004, and this is my 120th consecutive monthly article without missing a month. In anticipation of writing it, I have struggled with selecting what topic to write about. 

Should I write a “walk down memory lane” piece about the major technology advances that I have observed since 2004? (Here's a link to all of my previous columns.) Should I write a “crystal ball prediction” piece about my speculation of IT advances to come in the next ten years?

The topic that I have selected goes in a different direction than those choices. I am writing this tenth anniversary piece as a message to younger readers – those under the age of 30. The Millennial crowd. (Readers older than 30 should also read on. As a point of reference, I am 65 with teenage grandchildren.)

Some elders believe Millennials are spoiled and have been allowed too much to “have it their own way.” I say nonsense to this claim. We need youth to implement data management methods and techniques that their elders are hesitant, reluctant, or fearful to try.

Millennials: Don't Repeat Executive Mistakes

My writings often express frustration and discouragement with the slow adoption rate by organizations to apply enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) methods and analytics. Examples of EPM/CPM methods are channel and customer profitability reporting (with activity-based costing principles), strategy maps with balanced scorecard KPIs for strategy execution, and driver-based rolling financial forecasts with what if scenario planning. Examples of analytics are correlation, regression, clustering, and segmentation analysis.

These methods and techniques have been proven as effective many years ago. As a Deloitte and KPMG consultant, I successfully implemented EPM/CPM methods in the 1980s. What is taking so long for these managerial methods to be widely adopted and become commonplace? Software and database technologies are no longer the impediment.

The major barriers are social, cultural, and behavioral. They involve people – usually older people – which is where the youth comes in. Examples of barriers are resistance to change, fear of others knowing the truth, not wanting to be measured, not wanting to be held accountable, and weak leadership just to name a few. Younger professionals can overcome these barriers.

Millennials: Raise Your Youthful Voices!

I have not totally given up on midcareer and seasoned managers to implement these managerial methods and improve their organization’s performance. Maybe some of you in the older age groups will implement EPM/CPM methods and apply analytics. Many will not. This is why it is the under 30 age group that I am appealing to celebrate my tenth anniversary Information Management.com article.

Youth are receptive to change. Youth often seek change. They are still sufficiently restless and demand change. Youth often trigger revolutions. They foster peaceful revolutions such as with clothes apparel fashions and hairstyles. Youth also foster less peaceful civil revolutions. Examples are the recent Arab Springs in the Middle East and the Vietnam war protests during my university years in the early 1970s.

I appeal to young accountants, engineers, marketers, IT professionals, and sales force professional to “Raise your voices!” Your organizations need higher quality and faster information to make better decisions. Too many organizations are trapped with mountains of raw data that is undecipherable, flawed, incomplete and distorted. Much of it is transactional data waiting to be converted into meaningful information which will lead to wisdom and ultimately to generating a substantial ROI from using that information.

I appeal to the youth. You still have your individuality. Don’t accept “no” as answers. Don’t accept “we don’t do that here” or “we tried that and it did not work.” EPM/CPM methods and analytics work. When organizations have “tried and died” experiences it was because the methods were improperly implemented or analytics incorrectly applied.

Today’s youth -- those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s -- are a special group. There will never again be another generation like them. They experienced the emergence of the Internet and an explosion of high speed digital cloud-based mobile technologies. They grew up with PlayStations, Nintendo, and Xbox video games and wireless mobile phones. They have seen global trade barriers among countries dissolve. Their social media communications (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) makes my generation’s use of the rotary dial telephone seem like it was a telephone with Morse code. Youth grew up with Apple, Amazon, and Google.

Millennials: Be mad as Hell!

My generation may remember the 1976 movie “Network” with the actor Peter Finch performing as Max Beale in the role as a news broadcaster. In a maniacal fit he proclaimed to his television audience to open the windows of their house or apartment and scream out, “I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” To the youth, get mad. Make changes. You can do it. Start small, but think big. A simple pilot or proof of concept project can lead to a successful enterprise wide management system.

On December 15, 2008 I published a blog titled “What do I want my Epitaph and Legacy to Be?” In it I wrote “Here lays Gary Cokins who died a failure because his quixotic quest to convince organizations to adopt and integrate enterprise performance management methodologies fell on deaf ears.” To the youth, help me so that this epitaph about me does not come true.

Millennials: Provide the answers

I dedicated this tenth anniversary monthly Information Management.com column to the youth. Don’t let me down. Insist on trying to change things before the forces of denial and consensus peer pressure, that are heavy weights on the shoulders of your elders, prevent you from helping your organizations improve its performance, excel, and gain a competitive edge. What is needed is better decision support.

You can do it. Raise your voices.

Gary Cokins is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC, an advisory firm. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker and author in advanced cost management and performance improvement systems; previously a principal consultant with SAS. You can contact him at gcokins@garycokins.com. For more of Cokins' unique look at the world, visit his website at www.garycokins.com.

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