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Product Options, Alternatives and Risks

Voter Parallel

There's a parallel outside the sphere of information technology. To explain falling voter turnout in national elections in the 1960s, social scientists advanced the theory that voting is an irrational act. Since the probability of a single vote affecting a national election is effectively zero, it makes little sense for a rational person to take a couple of hours out of a busy day to head for the polls.

Ah, but what if everyone thought this way? Then voting really could make a difference. That's true, to a point, but the fact remains that an individual's decision to vote or not vote won't impact the outcome of a national election. A decision by an individual to persuade others to vote for a particular candidate could tip the scales, but your one vote won't make a difference. Scholars tested this "rational voter" theory and found that it didn't explain low turnout.

IT decision-makers face a similar dilemma. In their hearts, many would love to buy switches from someone other than Cisco or run operating systems from someone other than Microsoft. They understand that if enough of their colleagues did the same, it might pressure Cisco to lower prices or Microsoft to get its security act together. But when it comes time to sign the purchase order, they inevitably settle on Cisco or Microsoft because they conclude that such a decision is in the best interest of their employers, regardless of whether it's good for the buying community as a whole. Let someone else speak up for what's right. I want to keep my job.

Opportunities and Obligations

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