Ever since the inimitable Sean Connery looked up from that baccarat table, casually flipped the ash from his cigarette and spoke the immortal words”Bond, James Bond”I have been fascinated with gamblers.
I stand in awe of those who, like the unflappable 007, seem always to have the right answers and make the right choices, often in the face of tremendous pressure and overwhelming odds. How do they do it? It must take a fantastic combination of courage, intellect, instinct, insightand just plain luckto “know when to hold em and when to fold em,” as another famous gambler once intoned.
And it occurs to me that this same skill set would come in very handy for a particular segment of our industry, namely those who must make critical decisions about purchasing software and systems for their companies.
Just think about it. These men and womenand you may be among themare faced with choosing among multiple technology platforms, options and products that often cost millions of dollars when all the training and extras are thrown in. Or maybe they would be better off staying with what theyre using and saving those millions. The CEO, the board of directors and maybe even the stockholders are depending on the tech buyer to make the right decision. The wrong choice could have a disastrous effect on the entire enterprise, perhaps even on the companys future.
Putting myself in the unenviable position of such a technology buyer, I began to think about what I might learn from gambling lore that could be of some practical value. One thing I have gleaned from observing veteran gamblers is that they pick their spots. They dont necessarily play every hand at poker, or bet on every race at the track. Instead, they have a strategy based on experience and knowledge of the game.
Similarly, a company that wants to improve its systems needs to have a strategy that avoids wasting time chasing down rabbit trails. If the company seeks to improve claims processing, it needs a plan that accomplishes that without making major changes to its infrastructure or to its corporate culture.
Another thing that differentiates professional gamblers from average folks is that they know themselves well. They know their strengths and weaknesseswhere they excel and where theyre likely to get into trouble. An insurance company must also know these things, but more importantly, it must factor them into any technology decisions.