Open Insights 56 – Cui Bono – To Whose Benefit

Cui Bono – To Whose Benefit?

by Sean Hull

When looking for root causes of the recent financial meltdown, the latin phrase “cui bono” seems to pop up here and there. According to wikipedia: “(’To whose benefit?’, literally ‘as a benefit to whom?’, a double dative construction) is a Latin adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be. With respect to motive, a public works project which is purported to benefit the city may have been initiated rather to benefit a favored campaign contributor with a lucrative contract.” Relevant indeed.

By asking CUI BONO or “to whose benefit” you seek to find the cause not necessarily by direct evidence, but more by inference based on understanding all the possible motives of an action.

So what about in business? When you walk into your bank, and they ask you about and present mutual funds to you, is it with your interests at heart? Well certainly it must be sold that way, or your ears wouldn’t perk up. But can a bank spend the energy and time of an associate to sell you something if it isn’t to their benefit in terms of fees and so on?

Upgrades, software companies love them. And why not, the recurring revenues are very lucrative. But beware the unnecessary ones, whether by contract, or by subsequent sale offering more features then you ever dreamed possible – or knew you needed! Open-source alternatives may give you some leverage in this department, but might also mean more customization and tweaking for your specific needs. It may also provide you with a wildcard when discussing such “required” upgrades with pushy sales teams. As an alternative, your team could dangle the migrate-to-open-source alternative card for some excellent negotiating power.

Cloud Computing seems to be the next wave of hosted computing power. The likes of Amazon and Google offer on-demand computing solutions for hosting databases, webservers, and applications. But beware as those hourly costs add up quickly, and your data collects in a cloud out of which it becomes more and more difficult to migrate off of later. Again, weigh in with “to whose benefit” when reviewing prices and options that seem suddenly better than traditional offerings.

CUI BONO in affect takes the old adage “read the fine print”, mixes it with a little “read between the lines” or even the detective’s “modus operandi”. It challenges us to look for the hidden interests and factors that motivate us in our behavior.

Review: Age Of The Unthinkable

by Joshua Cooper Ramo

The world is full of surprises around every corner. I remember thinking that in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. Something so big, something so serious and seemingly impervious could never be dismantled peacefully. But then it happened.

Ramo fills his entire book with unexpected and counterintuitive truths like this. Faced with a barrage of newness and change, from challenges of global terrorism to resource depletion and global warming, he looks in unlikely places to find solutions. He challenges us to look to Hezbollah for advice on management and areas as diverse as economics, psychology and history to help us form a new way of thinking about a radically shifting and changing world.

View The Age Of The Unthinkable on Amazon.