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Risk Is for Gambling, Not IT

Article by Robert Gillette on July 03, 2018
Robert Gillette
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When it comes to IT support, the number one thing that people are worried about is not what you might think. It is not security risks, such as hacking and ransomware. It is not downtime. It is not desktop support. Though each of these is worrisome, they would be better classified as symptoms. Promising you a secure environment or an available help desk may provide temporary relief, but it will not remove the concern.

What most people are looking for is certainty.

Why you want certainty not solutions

A Freakonomics podcast I listened to recently explained it best. MIT Finance Professor Andrew Lo explained that while there is money to be made in risk, billionaires make their money by betting on uncertainty.

Here is an analogy that might make a little more sense:

Suppose I offer you a game. I place 50 red and 50 black marbles in a jar. To play, remove one marble and write down the color. If I can guess the color, you lose and get nothing. If I get it wrong, you win $10,000. Now, how much would you pay to play that game?

That calculation you are doing in your head is risk. Once you’ve considered all the variables, you will be able to calculate your probability of winning or losing. Industries from banking and insurance, to carnival games and street hustling, are built on these types of risk calculations.

Now suppose I offered you the same wager, with a new jar of marbles, but you have no idea what’s in the jar. I tell you there are most definitely black and red marbles in there, but the amount of each color is completely unknown. How do you calculate the chances that you’ll win? You can’t. There is too much uncertainty.

This is the kind of environment I often step into as a business development executive. This kind of uncertainty causes people to make poor decisions. Either they overestimate the risk because they are acting from a place of fear, or they underestimate their risk because they cannot quantify the potential consequence. When it comes to IT support making a poor decision can have consequences greater than many businesses can absorb.

Tags: IT strategy, IT security

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