Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Long Shot?

William Hill, the UK bookmaker, is offering odds of 1000/1 on the possibility that the latest footballer baby will become prime minister. (News Release 3 November 2009)

Anything's possible, I guess. But from an IT perspective, my first thought was for the extraordinary cost to William Hill of this publicity stunt. Given that people can become prime minister at any age, William Hill is going to have to maintain records of these bets for at least seventy years. What are the lifetime IT costs of this commitment? Not cheap.

I suppose the upside for William Hill is that the punters will have to stay in touch with William Hill for the duration.

I have no idea whether the planners at William Hill thought through the implications of this, but there are too many organizations where the IT implications of an apparently minor business decision would not have been considered until it was too late.

Further clarification having discussed this with @EnterprisingA on Twitter.

1. I never said William Hill itself was wrong or foolhardy. I merely raised the question whether this had been thought through, and said I knew lots of organizations that would probably fail to do so. Jon suggests that good EA should help to resolve this kind of thing, but of course that would only be true if EA could anticipate all possible future business ideas, or were consulted whenever such business decisions are made.

2. Maybe assuming an IT solution was jumping to conclusions, but I couldn't see how any other acceptable alternative would be any cheaper. Jon thought that a bookmaker wouldn't need to store the details of every outstanding bet, and has confirmed this with the Gambling Commission, but even if this is true for this particular example, I think my general point is still valid.

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