Choosing among technology options requires reviewing RFPs, briefings, demonstrations, and product/solution literature. Despite the diversity of material, there is one thing in common. Each piece describes what the solution does today and what upgrades or new features are coming down the road. They glorify the business benefits, management, security, and ease of use. Perhaps they even delve into how a particular solution has an easily managed lifecycle, making budgeting, planning and procurement simpler in the future.

Despite all the information presented, one question rarely gets asked – what doesn’t it do?

Technology buyers, technical evaluators, IT management and business management can all benefit from understanding a solution’s limitations. Limitations can touch price, scale, and technical specifications just to name a few. Understanding limitations frames a solution, sets boundaries, and most importantly, sets expectations. Vendors and service providers have a penchant for following whatever the latest technology hype, making it easy to let the perceived upsides of a solution utterly overshadow – or even mask – the limitations.

A great example of hype getting ahead of capabilities is the current craze for AI. Every vendor and service provider is trying to find a way to add “AI” to their products, either via intense engineering, intense aspirational marketing efforts, or both. It’s hard to blame them – AI is viewed as capable of utterly transforming almost every technology solution. While AI is exciting, looking at a solution only with AI in mind, it’s easy to get caught up in the potential upsides.

But every solution, incorporating AI or not, suffers limitations. Knowing what they are makes it easier to resist hype and to resist those within a company who begin insisting that they must use AI starting right this moment. Knowing the real shortcomings of a solution before implementation prevents users and management from being disappointed or surprised.

Unsurprisingly, it’s often difficult to get a vendor or service provider to talk about limitations. Both leverage carefully crafted messages emphasizing their strengths, particularly against competitors who offer a solution with the same purpose. In some corporate settings, saying anything negative about a product or solution is considered traitorous, leading to lectures that involve words or phrases like “team,” “best for the company,” and “positive attitude.”

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So, it takes work to uncover the actual limitations. Enterprises need to patiently push and most importantly explain that the inquiry isn’t a hunt to find flaws in the solution and disqualify the vendor. It’s a hunt to fully understand and set expectations within the enterprise. It’s a hunt to ensure that everyone knows what they are getting and what it can do, or not. Enterprises can learn a great deal about how worthy a business partner, vendor, channel partner, or service provider is simply by how engaged they are with the request to understand the limitations of the solution. Those who can’t or won’t voice limitations or find someone who can are either just in it for the sale or simply buying the marketing at face value. Enterprises can make adoption easier by setting expectations, and vendors, channel partners, and service providers can gain trust and deeper account insight by being ready, able, and willing to discuss a solution’s limitations.