John Wick 2 and the Value of Information

(All images are courtesy of Bing)

This past weekend my free time was primarily driven by one need: to see the sequel to John Wick, one of the sleeper hits from 2014. John Wick: Chapter 2 was released last Friday, February 10, 2017 and I couldn’t help but buy advance tickets. If you haven’t seen the first movie, I highly recommend that you start with that one. It’s a great action flick focused on honor, love, and revenge. There is also a puppy in it, which is a plot tactic that is guaranteed to reel me in. Then go watch the sequel. I hoped that the second in the series would be at least half as good. Luckily, it surpassed my expectations. My husband even likes it better than the first. Note that they ended the second film by leaving it open for a chapter 3. (Yesssssssssss!)

(All images are courtesy of Bing)

While watching the sequel, I was struck by the many valuable lessons hidden in the film (note: no real spoilers are revealed below):

  1. Experiences and the memories they create are more valuable than material things
  2. Sometimes you have to know when to lead and when to follow. The ability to obey is one of a dog’s greatest gifts to humans.
  3. Always keep learning. To be successful, you must be highly skilled in what you do.
  4. In the services industry, reputation really is everything
  5. Sometimes the best fighting advantage comes from a shorter stance
  6. Being able to speak multiple languages is completely underrated. Add: sign language is just as important as any other foreign language.
  7. Italian style is always fashionable. Always.
  8. Being resourceful is an important survival skill. With finesse, you can turn 7 bullets into 7 guns.
  9. Some rules are worth breaking, even if it costs you everything
  10. Don’t underestimate our current Technology Age. There is always someone watching or listening.
  11. Retirement is hard to accomplish after a long and successful career. Even sheer will can’t brute force it.
  12. At the end of a long week, you can always count on your dog to be there for you

wick-and-dog

(All images are courtesy of Bing)

And one of the coolest lessons, which is the basis of this blog post:

13. Information is the most valuable weapon we have

Lesson #13 was a nice surprise. If you watch the currency exchange throughout the movie, you’ll notice that the highest priced item that Wick purchases is information. The blueprints to the catacombs cost at least 4 gold coins. And what’s even more awesome about this subtle element of the story line (the technology nerd in me is jumping for joy) is that if you pay close attention to this scene you’ll notice that Wick is not buying data. He’s buying information. Data is raw. Information is on a higher plane – it’s data elevated into meaningful insight. The blueprints Wick purchases come with a clear strategy and recommendation, investigated and analyzed by an expert. Wick pays a high price for this information and he is happy to do so because he understands its worth.

italy

(All images came courtesy of Bing)

As I thought about the Tao of John Wick, I couldn’t help but draw lines to my own career. I work in the Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) industry. In a nutshell, this means that I work primarily with the Finance, Accounting, and I.T. departments at large organizations and help them to measure, monitor, and manage their business performance. We do this by transforming data into information and then translating that information into meaningful action. Those of us that consult in this area are skilled in creating large-scale application and analytics systems that allow companies to: close and consolidate their business, plan and forecast, and report and analyze supporting data. Companies make important strategy decisions based on the information from our solutions.

However, one of the biggest problems I see in the EPM world is the cost justification for EPM projects. These projects can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the complexity of the business, specific application and technical requirements, and the organization’s culture of design, adoption, and testing. As we in the EPM world deal primarily with the CFO, our usual project champion and sponsor, budget plays a key role in the go/no go decision for this work. Not value, but cost. And projects get turned down for cost reasons before they ever get any traction. There are a number of explanations as to why this is the case, the main one being the inability to measure the direct return on investment (ROI) from these types of projects. It becomes a numbers game. However, EPM projects are an investment in the future. It may take years to refine the solution elements and draw direct lines to the bottom line.

wick-on-the-ground

(All images are courtesy of Bing)

The fact of the matter is that all companies need an EPM system, regardless of the platform. An EPM system helps companies focus on the information they need to stay ahead of the competition, whether that be the profitability of a specific division, the true costs of doing business, the impact of industry variables on the sales forecast, the consolidation of multiple close systems, or the analytics by various categories in order to understand how they compare across the company.

I’ve been fortunate to work on EPM implementations for very large firms in my 15+ year stint as a consultant. In just the last 5 years, I’ve witnessed EPM applications:

  • Help a multi-billion dollar company make their most important decision about an acquisition (they chose to move forward)
  • Help a multi-million dollar firm consolidate their global P&L and use the new definition to determine profitability at the lowest level of their business and make comparisons. This was information they did not have before, and it led them to deciding which locations to cut and where they should build out new locations.
  • Help a multi-million dollar division of a large company plan and forecast more accurately, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars each year
  • Help a multi-million dollar organization move from Excel to a world-class software solution that saved them weeks of time from each planning and forecast cycle

 

On the surface, John Wick 2 is a bad ass action movie that delights and entertains. However, it hints at a technology culture that is in tune with our current Technology Age. Information is the key to make or break status for survival. A company’s weakest link will be the information that it bases its decisions on.

The question is not whether or not the information is worth the cost, but…what is the cost without it?

Final verdict for the movie? 2 guns up!