What Beer Can Teach Us About Financial IT

Anthony Malakian, deputy editor, Buy-Side Technology

Believe it or not, having a beer at the pub last week got me thinking about financial IT. It was a pint of Samuel Adams' seasonal Winter Lager, which is only available each year during the winter months. It was pretty tasty, which isn’t surprising, since The Boston Beer Company, which produces Sam Adams, is a fine brewery.

But I noticed that this year’s version tasted different from last year’s. I can't put my finger on it, as it's impossible to conduct a taste test, but the brewery either lightened the ginger taste or upped the caramel malt—whatever they did, it seems more smooth and refined than previous incarnations.

How does this relate to financial IT, you ask? Well, it’s all about changing perceptions.

One common refrain that I hear from CIOs is that they are often unwilling to go back and give a vendor a second chance after a bad first impression, no matter the enhancements the vendor makes to its offering.

Sure, these technologists say, "We do our due diligence," and "If the price is improved …," or "If the enhancement is cutting-edge ...," then a second chance may be granted. But that first impression is so vital, not only in capturing and keeping a customer, but also in generating good word-of-mouth.

Earlier this week, I spoke to a contact at a vendor about a product that it will be releasing in the near future. He spoke of the two-year process of developing the product, keeping in mind the KISS concept: Keep It Simple, Stupid. His company didn't want to rush out something that wasn't ready to go.

With beer, you can win back customers if you enhance your offering, or if the consumer gives you a second chance after having a skunked brew. The same is true in financial IT.

But my question is this: In the vendor community, how much time and money has been wasted and lost due to rushing something out the door, or perhaps worse yet, fiddling with something that was about perfect only to louse the whole thing up?

Anyway, this is what I was pondering at the bar until the second intermission of a New York Rangers game ended. So I will leave it up to you, faithful readers, to send anecdotal responses to me at [email protected]



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