I am not addicted to text messaging. I was talked into using FaceBook and found out that two of my high school teachers are more active on the site than I am.
I love getting cards or real mail. I don’t own a game system except for one that was passed down to me and is currently sitting unplugged, unused.
We have one T.V. with no cable, just PBS over the antenna.
It’s not that I am slow to adapt, or painstakingly deliberate – I just don’t feel the need to be inundated day in and day out with information, much of it which has little to nothing to do with the decisions I need to make.
Why bring this up? I’m not going to bore you with a personal diatribe about modern technology, but rather make a point about information systems and how we need to be careful in our decisions.
One of the points I get clients to hammer out detail on when putting into place any level of reporting/analytics is how they will respond to the data once they get – what are the methods and governances you will have around the metrics once you start seeing them? One of my favorite stories is of a call center manager who was set to fire half of his staff due to returns or exchanges of computer products, until we pointed out to him he needed to look at the year over year context to understand that this was a normal consumer cycle and that they were actually doing better than the year before.
This is a cogent point all the more given our current economic state – we are not required to have an immediate reaction to every action that occurs. We (the market and our government) did not have a planned method for response to these events – if you do not have a plan or understanding of why the needle tips, and what to do when it does, then you put yourself in danger with any immediate response to that moving gauge.
I get a small chuckle out of everyone misquoting Milton Friedman when it comes to the Great Depression and trying to fit his statement into current context.
He did place a lot of blame on the Fed for contracting the money supply during a time when banks needed liquidity, but if you understand more of Friedman and his advocacy for a free market, then you cannot place his thinking next to the decisions guiding the "bailout".
Friedman was a very deliberate person and a brilliant economist (gross understatement). With all the information we now have at hand, much more data and coming in much more timely, there is the opportunity to pick a more measured path for the economy.
So what does this have to do with being old fashioned? Maybe it’s just my weird thought pattern for the day, but I believe that we haven’t learned as a society what to do with, and how to react to the amount of information we are given every minute of the day. Stocks fluctuate intraday for no apparent reason other than they have a high "news" index on Google or Yahoo!; an industry becomes hot overnight because it gets featured in some trade publication for some minor purpose, and then the story copied over and over — or, one of my favorites about United Airlines and a mistake in publishing a story that plunged the stock over 75% in one day.
I guess that I am old fashioned in that I like to get all the facts before making a decision – it’s not to say that I don’t make up my mind quickly on a great many things, but often I can rely on either experience or an accumulation of points before my juncture that allow me to pick the (hopefully) best option before me.
I think something I’ll use to underline this point: is there any day trader (technical investor) out there that can compete with Warren Buffet (value investor)?
It is important that we, as I/T professionals, push our clients to consider the facts, plan for excellence, plan for the long term, and to do this, we need to help them understand the repercussions of the information they will be receiving from the systems we put in place.
Thoughts, examples? Please feel free to comment or e-mail me.