Why Does Fear Sell over Value for IT?

When Willie Sutton was asked, why do you rob Banks ? He replied, “Because that is where the money is.”

Why do companies sell fear? Ask Willie Sutton. :)

From Y2K and ozone holes, to IP4 address space, sales channels love a good crises to drive a sale. The funny thing is, from my experience, the process  of adjusting a product line to accommodate customer fear is evolutionary, akin to natural selection, and not a pre-planned conspiracy. Demand seems to be created from some external uncontrolled upwelling, and not from a hard sell within the vendor ranks.

For example, back in 2008, we had a little mini boom selling our product to meet the demand based on the CALEA laws – we ended up supporting this feature because our customers demanded it. The demand (fear) for CALEA came out of left field, not once did we push this solution and yet everybody wanted it. I had a similar experience back in 2000 with Y2k. The product managers for the systems I worked on at AT&T were beating down my door to come up with any type Y2k inoculation update I could muster.  I can assure you that, with all due respect, the product managers at AT&T were not savvy enough to generate this demand, it came from the customers and the media.

Why fear trumps value.

They say the stock market is driven by fear and greed. CNN actually has a fear greed meter. With IT technology sales, fear and cost are the driving factors.

Normally businesses are cost conscious with their IT decisions, after all, IT purchases do not normally generate revenue and the idea is to spend as little as possible.  It makes sense that a business  would carefully analyze these expenditure(s).

Fear, real or imagined, on the other hand, can force a CIO into immediate decision making, and less scrutiny on cost.

What Fears are currently driving the market ?


Security is always in the conversation.  The market in this area is fairly mature and about 90 percent of what is purchased is for CYA or regulatory reasons.

Falling Behind

This is more like keeping up with the Jones’s, if your competitor has large flat screen monitors in their control center, you want them;  however their actual effect on the bottom line may not clear but you buy anyway so as not to be appear obsolete.


I seriously doubt that investment in classroom technology, for things like  “one for one” iPad’s per student, for the sake of a teaching aid, is really making anybody smarter, but the perception is that you must have it.

What’s on the horizon ?

I’ll cover this next week.

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