As an engineering manager, some day you will be faced with a need to select a vendor. Usually, it's when you need a quick solution that's not within your team's skill set, but there are a lot of other instances. The selection could be very important to your team, company and career (no pressure), so it's important to get it right. After doing it for many years, I've developed a framework to help streamline the vendor selection process. First, you need to come up with a list of business requirements for the project.
Artificial intelligence and related technologies promise to be a game changer for businesses. The central question is whether to build or buy. Some companies will build their own solutions from scratch, but using commercial tools can often be faster, cheaper, and provide better results than what a company can build on its own. Since the technology is so new and untested, early adopters have some power when it comes to vendor relationships. Suppliers may be willing to perform custom configurations and integrations, provide free consulting or training, or give steep discounts -- especially if you're willing to be one of their success stories should the project work.