There are many similarities between the world of business and the game of roulette. While skill, strategy and a longer-term goal are crucial ingredients for making it commercially, success often requires no shortage of luck.
Luck is definitely key in the game of roulette, which requires players to bet on the outcome of the spin of a wheel. There are shots that are close to being 50-50, such as red or black, while other bets allow you to move the odds a little more in your favor.
The game also allows you to bet on a single number. The chances of it coming off are relatively slim, but if it does then you are richly rewarded. And this variety of bets available is one of the key reasons why roulette remains such a popular staple of casino gaming.
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Single number bets
Roulette also contains plenty of metaphors for business. Those single number bets are easily equitable to businesses taking a low-investment punt on new technology – and there are plenty of modern examples here that we can point to.
Google is one of the world’s biggest and most successful companies. The search giant has transcended its industry to offer services across sectors including email, hosting and navigation. But not every expansion and the new frontier have been successful.
In 2013, they launched Google Glass, an early attempt at introducing hardware into the mainstream that is capable of harnessing augmented reality technology. But Glass was not a success, attracting criticism from critics for its security issues and failing to capture the public’s imagination.
Its hefty launch price tag was also fairly prohibitive, and the project has since been shelved, although it is expected that Google will eventually revisit the world of augmented reality presumably having learned some important lessons.
But their initial investment, and launch of Google Glass, is the perfect metaphorical equivalent for a single number spin on the roulette wheel. The bet didn’t come off, but the stake was small, so no lasting damage was done and the player’s game continued.
Red or black
When you play roulette online live, one of the most popular initial bets made is red or black. To many, this seemingly represents a 50% chance of success, although the odds are in fact slightly less favorable due to the presence of the green zero.
The excitement of a red or black bet on the roulette wheel is in the fact that the outcome is much harder to predict. And in the world of business, large investments are often made in an expansion or new product with a similar mystery around whether or not it will be a success.
But unlike a single number bet, the investment is slightly larger, the chances of success are higher and the pay-out is a little more modest. And once again there are examples pretty much all around us.
The investment by many of the world’s leading electronics brands in 3D television technology seemed to be reasonably savvy. The innovation had excited consumers in the cinema, although some were unsure whether or not it could replace 2D as the wider standard.
In the end, this 50-50 gamble didn’t pay off and a number of brands suffered fairly significant losses, being left with stock they couldn’t sell, although the vast majority were able to come out of the other side, wiser for the experience.
Of course, there’s more to being successful in business that the spin of a wheel, but across a range of sectors, CEOs, board members, and managing directors are taking gambles every day in the hope of winning big.