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4 IT Lessons from Our Favorite Time of the Year, March Madness

Daniel Wolfe
March 31, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—for basketball fans, that is.

Considered by many to be the best few weeks of sports all year, March Madness is a favorite all around the country. Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimated that a staggering 60 million Americans fill out brackets for the tournament. More interestingly, they estimated that the cost to employers from productivity lost as workers watch tournament games and fill out brackets could reach as high as $1.9 billion this year!

As it turns out, though, March Madness doesn’t have to be all about hoop dreams (or lost productivity). The highlights of the world’s best single elimination tournament can also teach those of us in the IT world a few quick lessons.

  1. Prepare your business for that big upset. If there’s one thing we love about March Madness, it’s big upsets like 14-seed University of Alabama at Birmingham knocking off 3-seed Iowa State in the first round. We all expect upsets, and yet, they never fail to take us (or the higher seeded team) by surprise.

    The same is true with data outages. We all know that outages happen, but we never expect them to happen to us. Invest in a good partner that minimizes—or eliminates—downtime so you don’t fall victim to the outage underdog.
  2. IT takes a team. Every year, there are a couple of teams whose star or starting man gets injured before the tournament, causing the team to change up the roster at the last minute. Most teams don’t expect to play the 11th man—but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a deep bench.

    Elements of your IT strategy that don’t seem important at the time can be thrown into the forefront when something unexpected happens. You have to sweat the small details when investing in your IT infrastructure and related services. What’s your backup plan? Who can you count on when traffic spikes (or declines), or when needs change? Expect the unexpected.
  3. Complacency kills. As we’re taught time and time again, a lead at halftime, or even in the last 5 (or 4, 3, 2, or 1) minutes of the game is no guarantee of victory. It only takes a few missteps to blow a big lead in the tournament.

    Whether with your product, your security, your team, or anything else in your business, never rest on your laurels. Commit to moving forward and find the products, services, and partners that enable you to stay on top.
  4. Your infrastructure is only as good as its preparedness. Okay, so this point’s a little more literal—but it’s still very relevant. Bandwidth usage is huge during March Madness; 42% of companies report bottlenecking during peak times. If your network and IT strategy is meant to address problems after they happen, you’re asking for failure. You need resiliency, consistency, and agility to succeed.

We like a good underdog, but no matter who you’re rooting for this tournament, remember: there are IT lessons to be had from even the least obvious of places. In this case, the upsets, rosters, underdogs, and general madness of March hold a few great lessons that will stay true long after the stings of defeat and thrills of victory have faded.



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