How to Sell Backup to Your CFO


[This is the first excerpt from our How to Sell Backup to Your CFO whitepaper.]

A CEO throwing a party takes his executives on a tour of his opulent mansion. In the back of the property, the CEO has the largest swimming pool any of them has ever seen. The huge pool, however, is filled with hungry alligators. The CEO says to his executives “I think an executive should be measured by courage. Courage is what made me CEO. So this is my challenge to each of you: if anyone has enough courage to dive into the pool, swim through those alligators, and make it to the other side, I will give that person anything they desire. My job, my money, my house, anything!”


Everyone laughs at the outrageous offer and proceeds to follow the CEO on the tour of the estate. Suddenly, they hear a loud splash. Everyone turns around and sees the CFO in the pool, swimming for his life. He dodges the alligators left and right and makes it to the edge of the pool with seconds to spare. He pulls himself out just as a huge alligator snaps at his shoes.


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

Don’t be the one who pushed.

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

Given that job description, you would think that “selling backup” to a CFO would be the easiest thing in the world to do.  You’d be wrong.  Some CFOs intuitively grasp the linkage of data protection to the limitation of financial risk to a company.  Other CFOs tend to focus on minimizing costs and see data protection as an unnecessary expense from an IT department that is always wanting to spend money on information technology.

Traditionally, the way that IT leaders have tended to “sell backup” is by using an insurance metaphor.   Data protection, like various forms of insurance, is an expense intended to protect the corporation against foreseen and unforeseen events that could endanger the corporation.   More formally, insurance is a form of financial risk management used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss.  Note that term “financial risk management.” It’s that concept that makes the insurance metaphor so appealing because it aligns so neatly with the primary responsibility of the CFO.

One of the main reasons the insurance metaphor is so successful is because of the dire consequences of data loss.  In upcoming postings, I’ll discuss industry and regulatory consequences of data loss.  For now, here are just a few statistics related to the impact of data loss on businesses across the board.

Data Loss Statistics


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