As the enterprise goes digital, CIOs may have a better understanding of how some products will succeed and others may become a liability.
By Patrick K. Burke
It was a muggy June night in Cleveland. The year: 1974: The location: Cleveland Stadium, home of the hapless Cleveland Indians baseball club. The event: Perhaps the most misguided promotional event in professional sports history.
The Texas Rangers were in town, less than one week after the Indians were involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the Rangers at their home stadium. Tension between the clubs was palpable, and Cleveland’s fans were fueled by a week of charged commentary on sports talk radio programs.
So what better night to host 10 Cent Beer Night with no limit at the stadium?
The game didn’t end well. In fact, it didn’t even make it a full nine innings. Drunken fans in a crowd 25,000 strong began pelting Texas players with bottles, pieces of seating, batteries, rocks and apparently anything that could be used as a projectile. Inebriated fans ran onto the field, sparking a brawl between them and the outnumbered Rangers. Chaos ensued.
Umpires called the game in the bottom of the ninth. Cleveland would forfeit. The Rangers escaped with their lives and a win.
It was the last limitless 10 Cent Beer Night in Cleveland.
Sometimes organizations have the best intentions but lack a full understanding of what the consequences may be when launching promotions or new products. The Indians could have used a dose of common sense in 1974. It wouldn’t take a deep dive into big data analytics to realize the night most likely would not end well. But in the spirit of filling seats and bringing in revenue, the big picture was missed. Scheduling the promotion when another team was in town would have made sense.
As CIOs are expanding their roles from keeping IT systems up and running to having more of a say in the direction and strategy of business, it makes sense for CEOs, CMOs and the rest of the C-suite to loop in the CIO to business plans and new products.
Take, for instance, a recent scam that took advantage of a utility’s automated telephone system. A business owner in New Jersey was swindled when a scammer called up his business and portrayed himself as someone from the power company. The scammer said the business owner needed to pay his bill immediately, and he provided the exact amount owed on the bill. After some pressure, and concern that his electricity would be cut off, the business owner relented and paid $700.
The scammer took advantage of the automated telephone system, which required only an address and a telephone number to provide basic account information. It was a system built to help the customer, but it had an obvious flaw.
Because security weaknesses are top of mind for CIOs, perhaps the flaw could have been avoided if the power company’s CIO was asked to take a holistic look at the system.
As the enterprise goes digital, CIOs may have a better understanding of how some products will succeed and others may become a liability. They are a business resource that can help generate revenue and prevent some bad press.
Patrick K. Burke is senior editor at CIO Insight.
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