The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins, “Congress shall make no law.” There are those who think the framers should have stopped right there.

Not me. I especially value the part that says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

But then there’s the missing part – the part advice givers everywhere should adopt. The part that would read, “If you don’t have anything useful to say, refrain from saying it.”

The part our friends at Gartner should pay more attention to. As evidence, I offer this headline and the content that followed it: 72% of High Tech Leaders Expect to Grow Revenue in 2023, Despite Economic Uncertainty.

How might these high-tech leaders go about it? Through relevance. The press release actually said this: “Lower relevance reduces willingness to pay.”

Now let me get this straight: People are less likely to buy products and services that are less relevant to what they need?

No s***, Sherlock.

This pearl of wisdom was, inevitably, accompanied by the results of a survey – the pundits go-to for putting a gloss of faux authority on their otherwise useless conclusions. Strangely, the survey’s conclusion was that the companies in question are focusing on cost-cutting, not revenue generation. I say “strangely” because while the story’s headline was about growing revenue, none of the reported survey questions asked respondents about the revenue-enhancing strategies and tactics they’re pursuing.

Presumably, that’s because no high-tech leader had come up with any growth-oriented strategies or tactics until Gartner explained the value of relevance to them.

Even ignoring this lapse and taking the cost-cutting measures at face value, the main conclusion we should draw is that many high-tech leaders haven’t yet picked up the digital clue phone. As evidence, here’s a sampling of the most important cost-cutting measures these industry-leading firms have been taking:

Slowing down hiring for new positions: More than half the companies surveyed are doing this. For the most part it’s a money-losing proposition. If the open position will, when filled, have a positive return on investment, filling it earlier is more profitable than delaying. If it doesn’t have a positive return, don’t fill it at all. Delaying new hires yields the worst of both worlds.

Implementing spending cuts across the board: More than half of the responding companies are doing this, ignoring the popular analogy that they’re acting like surgeons equipped, not with scalpels, but with machetes.

Reducing marketing spends or programs: If your ad agency isn’t helping increase sales, by all means switch agencies. If you think marketing spends and programs don’t end up increasing sales, the CEO should replace the chief marketing officer, because … well, duh.

Reduced investments on products or services: Why anyone would think investing less in improving what you have to sell will help you sell more of it is … let’s just agree that the connection isn’t even tenuous. It’s non-existent.

At least none of the respondents said their companies were shrinking the sales force.

Why should a CIO care?

Back in the industrial age of information technology, when cost-cutting wore the business-strategy crown, as CIO you wouldn’t care about these absurdities at all. IT’s job was to help the business cut costs. Period, end of discussion, don’t argue.

But digital-as-a-noun has (supposedly) supplanted industrialism as the business’s strategic centerpiece – not only among technology leaders, but in most companies that are paying attention, including yours. And as CIO you’re at the epicenter of turning digital intentions into digital reality.

And digital strategy is, or at least should be, laser-focused on increasing revenue by achieving competitive advantage. In a digital world, cost cutting takes a backseat to making the smartest products and services on the block while providing customers with a superior experience whenever they interact with any part of the enterprise.

Bob’s last word: Did I write backseat? Go further. To the extent cost cutting survives as a business tactic, it should, in the land of digital, result in reducing the price the company charges for its products and services, thereby making them more attractive. Or, the company might figure out ways to re-invest the savings in ways that provide some other competitive advantage.

Bob’s sales pitch: There are weeks I’m not sure what I should write about. To an extent, it’s due to the dissonance between the roles of consultant vs commentator: commentators disseminate answers, while the consultant’s job is to ask the most pertinent questions.

Regardless, if you have questions you’d like me to write about, I won’t view it as an imposition.

Quite the opposite, you’d be doing me a favor.

Now available on’s CIO Survival Guide:4 hard truths of multivendor outsourcing.” If you’re managing more than one or two outsourcers and your aspirin bottle is running low, you might find its advice handy.

Prometheus brought fire (metaphorically, knowledge about how to do stuff) to humanity, making him a mythical hero.

Lucifer (light-bringer) brought knowledge (of good and evil, no less), to humanity, earning him the mantle of most villainous of all our mythical villains.

Go figure.

Now we have ChatGPT which, in case you’ve been living in a cave the past few months and missed all the excitement, seems to be passing the Turing, Prometheus, and Lucifer tests while making the whole notion of knowledge obsolete.

You can ask ChatGPT a question and it will generate an answer that reads like something a real, live human being might have written [Turing].

And just like dealing with real, live human beings you’d have no way of knowing whether the answer was … what’s the word I’m looking for? … help me out, ChatGPT … oh, yeah, that’s the word … “right” [Prometheus] or false [Lucifer].

And a disclaimer: I’m not going to try to differentiate between what ChatGPT and allied AI technologies are capable of as of this writing from what they’ll obviously and quickly evolve into.

Quite the opposite – what follows is both speculative and, I think, inevitable, in a short enough planning window that we need to start thinking about the ramifications right now. Here are the harbingers:

Siri and Watson: When Apple introduced Siri, its mistakes were amusing but its potential was clear – technology capable of understanding a question, sifting through information sources to figure out the answer, and expressing the answer in an easily understood voice.

Watson won Jeopardy the same way.

The sophistication of research-capable AIs will only continue to improve, especially the sifting-through-data-sources algorithms.

Synthesizers: It’s one thing to engage in research to find the answer to a question. It’s quite another to be told what the right answer is and formulate a plausible argument for it.

Trust me on this – as a professional management consultant I’ve lost track of how often a client has told me the answer they want and asked me to find it.

So there’s no reason to figure an AI, armed with techniques for cherry-picking some data and forging the rest, might resist the temptation. Because while I’ve read quite a lot about where AI is going and how it’s evolving, I’ve read of no research into the development of an Ethics Engine or, its close cousin, an integrity API.

Deep fakes: Imagine a deep-faked TED Talk whose presenter doesn’t actually exist here in what we optimistically call the “real world” but that speaks and gestures in ways that push our this-person-is-an-authority-on-the-subject buttons to persuade us that a purely falsified answer is, in fact, how things are.

Or, even more unsavory, imagine the possibilities for character assassination to be had by pasting a political opponent’s or business rival’s face onto … well, I’ll leave the possibilities as an exercise for the reader.

Persuasion: Among the algorithms we can count on will be several that engage in meme promotion – that know how to disseminate an idea so as to maximize the number of people who encounter and believe it.

Recursion: It’s loop-closing time – you ask your helpful AI a question (we’ll name it “Keejer” – I trust the etymology isn’t too mysterious?) “Hey, Keejer, how old is the universe?”

Keejer searches and sifts through what’s available on the subject, synthesizes the answer (by averaging the values it finds, be they theological or astrophysical), and writes a persuasive essay presenting its findings – that our universe is 67,455 years old.

But, many of the sources Keejer discovers are falsifications created and promoted by highly persuasive AIs, and Keejer lacks a skepticism algorithm.

And so Keejer gives you the wrong answer. Worse, Keejer’s analysis is added to the Internet’s meme stack to further mislead the next research AI.

Bob’s last word: Science fictioneers, writing about dangerous robots and AIs, gravitate to Skynet scenarios, where androids engage in murderous rampages to exterminate humanity.

The unexplored territory – rogue ‘bots attempting to wipe out reality itself – hasn’t received the same attention.

But putting the literary dimension of the problem aside, it’s time to put as much R&D into  Artificial Skepticism as we’ve put into AI itself.

There is a precedent: Starting in the very early days of PCs, as malicious actors started to push computer viruses out onto the hard drives of the world, a whole anti-malware industry came into being.

It’s time we all recognize that disinformation is a form of malware that deserves just as much attention.

Bob’s sales pitch: Not for anything of mine this time, but for a brilliant piece everyone on earth ought to read. It’s titled “40 Useful Concepts You Should Know,” by someone who goes by the handle “Gurwinder.”

All 40 concepts are useful, and you should review them all.

On’s CIO Survival Guide: Brilliance: The CIO’s most seductive career-limiting trait.” It’s about why, for CIOs, brokering great ideas is better than having them.