With all the recent press coverage, it’s not surprising to see IT vendors clamouring to message around their AI creds. In a survey by Freeform Dynamics and the CIO WaterCooler, a bunch of IT leaders told us they are currently inundated with AI pitches. They went on to say that most of the claims they hear from vendors are unconvincing at best, or deliberately misleading at worst. Not surprisingly, they’ve become pretty weary of this.
In terms of specifics, almost 9 out of 10 CIOs surveyed said they frequently or quite often come across vendors exaggerating the role of AI in their offering. In addition to this, around 40% said they become more wary when vendors are not straight with them, and a further 20% said they dismiss vendors who play these games unless other aspects of what they offer are demonstrably strong.
Uncertainty and doubt lead to mistrust and scepticism
Zooming out for a moment, it’s clear that over-positioning around AI doesn’t just harm the individual vendor’s individual credibility. With so many dubious or misleading claims being made, uncertainty and doubt have spread across the whole area. As a result, the default position for many CIOs is now mistrust and scepticism. They don’t take anything at face value, which makes evaluation and decision-making harder and more time-consuming.
On the bright side, the message that comes through from CIOs we speak with directly at Freeform Dynamics is that they respect and favour vendors who provide a clear, honest explanation of where and how they are using AI.
Is it so hard to tell the truth?
And CIOs are actually fine with a vendor saying that AI is not relevant to what they are offering at the moment, or that it’s on the roadmap. It’s also OK to explain, for example, that your data-driven automation is not quite machine learning, but that doesn’t matter because it does the job just as well.
At this stage, I was about to write some advice to vendors about the advantages of being clear, honest and open, providing proof points to back up your claims, and anticipating the kind of questions you are likely to get, but TBH, the voice of the CIO that comes through in the research says it much better than I ever could.
So let me finish by saying I understand the temptation to jump on the latest bandwagon, whether or not you have a metaphorical instrument to play, but please don’t. On behalf of myself, my analyst colleagues, and all those senior IT people out there who are getting tired of wasting so much time on this – give us a break!
That’s the end of my rant for now, but If you’re interested in seeing some of our CIO data for yourself, the infographic can be downloaded from here.
Dale is a co-founder of Freeform Dynamics, and today runs the company. As part of this, he oversees the organisation’s industry coverage and research agenda, which tracks technology trends and developments, along with IT-related buying behaviour among mainstream enterprises, SMBs and public sector organisations.