Insurance metaphor applied to How to sell a backup to your CFO:

An executive director who throws a party takes his executives on a visit to his vast mansion. In the back, the CEO has the largest pool you’ve ever seen. The huge pool, however, is full of hungry alligators. The CEO tells his executives: “I think an executive should be measured with courage. Courage is what made me CEO. So this is my challenge for each of you: if someone has enough courage to dive into the pool, swim through those alligators and get to the other side, I’ll give that person everything they want. My job, my money, my house, anything!”

Everyone laughs at the outrageous offer and follows the CEO on the visit to the estate. Suddenly, they hear a loud splash. Everyone turns around and sees the CFO in the pool, swimming for their lives. Dodging alligators from left to right and reaching the edge of the pool with a few seconds to spare. He gets out just as a huge alligator nibes on his shoes.

The astonished CEO approaches the CFO and says, “You’re amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. You’re brave beyond measure, and everything I own is yours. Tell me what I can do for you.” The CFO, panting, looks up and says, “Tell me who the hell pushed me into the pool!”

Don’t be the one who pushed.

So how do you sell a backup to your CFO?

A CFO is a corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the company’s financial risks. Secondary responsibilities are financial planning, record keeping, and financial reporting to both senior management and the board of directors.

Given the job description, you might think that “selling a backup” to a CFO is the easiest thing in the world. You’d be wrong. Some CFOs intuitively capture the link of data protection with financial risk limitation for a company. Other CFOs tend to focus on minimizing costs, and see data protection as an unnecessary expense from a IT department that is always looking forward to spending money on information technology.

Traditionally, the way IT bosses have tended to “sell backups” is by using the insurance metaphor. Data protection, like various forms of insurance, is an expense intended to protect the corporation from planned and unforeseen events that could endanger it. More formally, insurance is a form of financial risk management that is used to protect against the risk of unforeseen loss. Note the term “financial risk management”. It is this concept that makes the insurance metaphor so attractive, because it aligns perfectly with the CFO’s primary responsibility.

One of the main reasons the insurance metaphor is so successful is because of the serious consequences of data loss.

Statistics related to the impact of data loss on companies:

93% companies that lost their datacenter for 10 days or more due to the disaster filed for bankruptcy within a year of the disaster. 50% of companies that found themselves without data management during the same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National Archives and Records Administration in Washington)
94% companies suffering catastrophic data losses do not survive: 43% never reopen and 51% close in two years. (University of Texas)
25% of all PC users, suffer data loss every year (Gartner)
96% of all enterprise workstations, they are not being backed up. (Contingency Planning and Strategic Research Corporation)
50% all tape backups cannot be restored. (Gartner)
77% companies testing their tape backups found backup failures (Boston Computing Network)
7 out of 10 small businesses that experience a lot of data loss leave the business in a year. (DTI / Price waterhouse Coopers)

And you, have you already sold a backup to your CFO?