by Christopher Lindquist

Lies Your Vendor Told You

May 17, 2006 2 mins

A few years back, I attended a panel of CIOs who spent a couple days talking about the various issues surrounding their unique little part of the enterprise world. The audience was mostly vendors who were hoping to gain some insight into that hardest of all nuts, the mind of the IT executive.

At one point, someone asked, “What was the worst lie a vendor ever told you?” Most of the CIOs had pretty placid responses–mild enough that I don’t even remember them. But one gentleman got a big laugh from the crowd when he replied “I don’t know for sure, but it probably came out of [famous software CEO’s] mouth.” (No, I’m not going to say who he slammed. I have enough to do without spending my days fighting off a libel suit.)

The story popped back in my head after an interview I had today with another CIO at a company that’s gone 90 percent open source–even on the desktop (look for a story on him and his company later.) One of the big reasons he gave for giving up on commercial software was that he was tired of being lied to by his vendors.

It’s a complaint I’ve heard quite a bit over the years.  Vendor salespeople come through the door, make all kinds of claims, then fail to deliver on most of them. It speaks volumes about the disconnect that often exists between the sales and product development sides of vendor companies. But it also says a lot about the buyers: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. But what does it indicate when you’ve been fooled for the 47th, 48th, and 49th times?

Of course, maybe it’s not a matter of being fooled. Maybe it’s grim, cynical resignation toward perceived facts: Technology is always going to be more expensive, harder to implement and less effective than expected.  A pessimist is never disappointed, after all.

So here’s my question: What is the worst lie a vendor ever told you?  And make this a two parter: What did you do about it?  Just take it, or did you fight back?

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