Beneficial Intelligence

Amateurs and Professionals

January 29, 2021 Season 2 Episode 2
Beneficial Intelligence
Amateurs and Professionals
Chapters
Beneficial Intelligence
Amateurs and Professionals
Jan 29, 2021 Season 2 Episode 2

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss amateurs and professionals. Recently, Gamestock shares have gone through the roof. That's because professionals were betting that the stock would fall, and amateur investors meeting on the internet decided to buy up all the stock they could. The amateurs seem to have won this battle, inflicting billions of dollars of losses on the professionals. 

Amateurs also build IT systems, but in IT, the amateurs always lose. At JP Morgan, a trader built a model in Excel. He made a small error in his formula, made bad trades, and the bank lost $6 billion. In the UK health service, a coronavirus tracking system was built on an ancient version of Microsoft Excel, and people got ill and died because of bad contact tracing.  

The amateurs build systems because they can do it faster than IT. They are faster because they have less testing, failure handling and other things professionals implement. 

As the CIO, it is your job to establish a good collaboration between the IT amateurs in the business and the IT professionals in the IT department. Some systems you can safely let business users build themselves. Other systems need a bit of IT supervision to make sure they are tested and robust. And some systems are critical and should be left to the professionals. 

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Beneficial Intelligence is a weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at [email protected]

Show Notes

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss amateurs and professionals. Recently, Gamestock shares have gone through the roof. That's because professionals were betting that the stock would fall, and amateur investors meeting on the internet decided to buy up all the stock they could. The amateurs seem to have won this battle, inflicting billions of dollars of losses on the professionals. 

Amateurs also build IT systems, but in IT, the amateurs always lose. At JP Morgan, a trader built a model in Excel. He made a small error in his formula, made bad trades, and the bank lost $6 billion. In the UK health service, a coronavirus tracking system was built on an ancient version of Microsoft Excel, and people got ill and died because of bad contact tracing.  

The amateurs build systems because they can do it faster than IT. They are faster because they have less testing, failure handling and other things professionals implement. 

As the CIO, it is your job to establish a good collaboration between the IT amateurs in the business and the IT professionals in the IT department. Some systems you can safely let business users build themselves. Other systems need a bit of IT supervision to make sure they are tested and robust. And some systems are critical and should be left to the professionals. 

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Beneficial Intelligence is a weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at [email protected]