Can analytics make your work more fun?


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I’ve been reading job satisfaction surveys and the sad truth is that a substantial amount of workers find their work boring and/or unfulfilling. While those surveyed don’t necessarily want to leave their jobs, they just want more enjoyment from their job – a sense of fun and fulfillment. Reading these surveys made me reflect upon my own career, looking at the times when I was truly having fun – and getting paid for it!

What was common about those brief but thrilling periods? For me, there was always a team of co-workers involved. It was not a personal, independent project or task; it was good times for all. Plus, I was involved in breakthrough accomplishments, where the whole team – and each individual member – made a difference. It felt as though we were in uncharted waters.

How to have fun at work

I realized that in addition to the teamwork and thrill of traveling through those uncharted waters, there’s one other common thread throughout those enjoyable times. That common experience is implementing analytics-based enterprise performance management methodologies to improve an organization’s results.

Can analytics-based enterprise performance management methods lead to more fulfilling work experiences that last for a longer time? I think so, especially when management is willing to be an advocate for analytics and for implementing and integrating performance improvement methodologies. These methodologies provide invaluable opportunities for the challenging, thought-provoking tasks and projects that workers seek. Each methodology is fun in its own right, especially when business analytics is embedded in them. Examples of analytics are segmentation analysis and correlation analysis, which provide the information that serves as the basis for insights and better decision making.

Integrating analytics-based enterprise performance management methodologies is like a tabletop puzzle – requiring lots of pieces that must fit together in order to be successfully completed. Information can be easily exchanged across methodologies, and aren’t blocked by silo-ed IT systems. Examples of these methodologies are strategy maps; demand forecasting; customer profitability and value reporting and analysis; balanced scorecards; dynamic pricing; and driver-based resource capacity planning. And that is just to name a few. With so many options, workers constantly have opportunities to find tasks or projects that are meaningful – and fun – for them.

Software technology adds to the fun

It is fun to help co-workers solve problems; and today’s software technologies, such as from my employer SAS, not only support each methodology, typically with modeling and analytics embedded in each, but also allow them to be integrated. For example, a customer profitability reporting system (applying activity-based costing principles) can be seamlessly linked to a balanced scorecard system and to pay-for-performance compensation systems. It can be linked to a call center representative to provide rule-based decisions to aid the representative with profit-lifting deals or offers that retain and grow customers with higher-value potential.

Today, these systems are typically disconnected. And a software vendor’s acquisition and consolidation of other vendors is not integration. The applications need to be integrated. That is what makes for fun. The information flows amongst and between the methodologies. Without integration, it is as if the box cover with the solution of the tabletop puzzle was misplaced or thrown away – no one knows how the methodologies fit together. It is much more fun when they do!

So before you retire, have one or more of these fun periods again. Make work fun and fulfilling again by getting involved with enterprise performance management, business intelligence and business analytics systems. Life is too short!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gary Cokins, CPIM
Gary Cokins (Cornell University BS IE/OR, 1971; Northwestern University Kellogg MBA 1974) is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in advanced cost management and enterprise performance and risk management (EPM/ERM) systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC, an advisory firm located in Cary, North Carolina at Gary is the Executive in Residence of the Institute of Management Accountants (


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