Would like your two cents about the value of vendor content during research phase

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Hello. I am the director of the tech encyclopedia WhatIs.com and am looking for some real life stories (and personal opinions) about the value of vendor-created content. The information you share will be used in a WhatIs.com newsletter. I'm especially interested in learning how useful vendor content is in the research phase of your quest for knowledge. On a scale of 1-10 with ten being "most useful" where do you place vendor content on your list of research resources?

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I find vendor content most used and would give it as a choice after 1 page of easy registration or collection of basic logon info. Name, email address etc. I’d rate this location at about an 8. Too many qualifiers deters usage and offering it after collecting some basic info seems to work best for me. I also offer as a choice on this page the option to collect some basic info about my biz and links to other sites that would be useful to the people hitting my site. Good luck.

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  • Pedwards17
    As a "first glance" in my research, I utilize vendor content quite a bit. After deciding what it is that we want, vendor content is a good tool for finding out what their product SHOULD do and for finding whitepapers and case studies. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it an 8 for usability. As I said, I use it as a "first glance" at the product--there's no substitute for getting the product in-house and taking it through its paces in a "proof of concept" environment. Good luck with the newsletter. I'd be interested to see it when it's published.
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  • DrillO
    Good morning... I find vendor content quite useful in the research phase and would rate it about at 8 like my colleagues. Maybe even 8.5 in some cases. I find that most reputable vendors have solid and decent information on their sites and the marketing stuff is fairly easy to sort out. I then turn to trusted sites that specialize in testing products. I will even turn to Universtiy sites for some of my research. Then of course, we have forums such as this. It is easy to find people that you can trust after spending some time here and the information and advice is usually spot-on. We have a great number of colleagues on this list for example who are only too willing to share knowledge and expertise. Well, that's my $0.02... Best, Paul
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  • BlueKnight
    I'd say I'm probably in the same camp as pedwards17 and DrillO. I use vendor content in my initial research to determine what products may potentially fill a need. Vendor content usually rates about 8 to 8.5 for this purpose. Next, I use sites such as this and other user commentary I can find to get a better guage on what a product actually can do. For real life feedback, this forum is hard to beat because of the breadth of experience and members willingness to contribute. As Paul (DrillO) indicated, you get to know members in this forum by their posts and can trust in their comments. User feedback rates 8.5 to 9 on my scale -- in a very few trusted cases, it can go 9.5 Once I narrow it down to a couple of good candidates, then it's time for a hands-on demo which really will determine which will best fill our need. This is the "proof of the pie" as they say. As far as accessing vendor information goes, I prefer it to be easily accessed. I don't mind providing a few details as to my organization and who I am, but if it gets much more involved, access becomes frustrating and I will move on to other sources. Hope this helps. I'd be interested to see what your outcome is. Regards, Jim
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  • Thepete
    There is an inverse pyramid-style filtering mechanism in research where one first addresses the over-view of general info on trends, from places like Gartners or even reading through user posts in pforums just to find what people are actually using to solve a similar problem. From there, the vendor content is reviewed to get an overview of how closely that system solves your problem. However, after regular research into products, one quickly learns the vendor info is often very different from the product. Maybe not completely on purpose, as much of vendor-supplied content needs to be sure to address what competitors address while also being a unique, improved, or niche solution that differentiates from said competitors. Sometimes, the vendor paper completely forgets to mention things which would have a negative impact on your decision. This is to be expected as vendor-supplied information is indeed a form of marketing. The next step needs to be to try the solution within your own environment. Besides letting you know if it's right for you, this also will show you how far from reality the whitepapers had strayed. ISECOM (isecom.org) provides a means for doing your own comparison metrics for measuring the delta, the change, a product will make when put in your network environment. Combining that with performance, price, vendor history, and functionality testing often makes it very easy to make a selection. But without trying the solution first, there is no way to know if the vendor info has any degree of truth for your environment and need. I say these vendor papers (we're not talking instruction manuals here) generally are a waste of time for learning the truth about what a product does and should be labeled purely as advertising (edutainment?). Only testing and trying can help make a decision. I rate vendor papers a 1 for educational value and a 10 for knowing how much money a vendor is pouring into selling their product.
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  • Meesha
    I rate it a 5. Using vendor info from their web sites these days is fraught with misleading types of information or information that takes so many clicks to find only to come to the realization that it doesn't fit into the requirements scope tends to be quite frustrating. Nor am I fond of having to register every time I want to see basic details such as "tech architecture". Another clear frustration is that my company does not use MS Internet Explorer and this provides it's own set of challenges for sites that still think MS is the only game in town (thank goodness for FireFox's IE View). Costs, product comparisons, infrastructures required, licensing, and so forth are other issues that make a vendor's site either good to use for reference or just give it a miss. Who has time to call the sales department when all you need is some basic info? Also, leave the flash and popups out. Rating it 5 is actually not so bad as it might seem. I do visit vendor sites for my research but I use the new found information in conjunction with other research activities, such as reports from research firms Forester, Gartner, Radicati, etc. Also use CNET, TechRepublic, SearchXXXX.com, PCWorld, Computer World, CIO/CXO, ezine sites. These tend to be a lot more helpful specifically as they do product comparisons as well as have user discussion forums and blogs. Conferences and/or seminars, product roadshows, etc. are costly in time but provide good value also. So for the instant snapshot of what a product is and does, the vendor site is okay. But to really provide proper research a compilation of all types of web sites, conferences, forums and dare I say, printed material are useful tools.
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  • Meesha
    I rate it a 5. Using vendor info from their web sites these days is fraught with misleading types of information or information that takes so many clicks to find only to come to the realization that it doesn't fit into the requirements scope tends to be quite frustrating. Nor am I fond of having to register every time I want to see basic details such as "tech architecture". Another clear frustration is that my company does not use MS Internet Explorer and this provides it's own set of challenges for sites that still think MS is the only game in town (thank goodness for FireFox's IE View). Costs, product comparisons, infrastructures required, licensing, and so forth are other issues that make a vendor's site either good to use for reference or just give it a miss. Who has time to call the sales department when all you need is some basic info? Also, leave the flash and popups out. Rating it 5 is actually not so bad as it might seem. I do visit vendor sites for my research but I use the new found information in conjunction with other research activities, such as reports from research firms Forester, Gartner, Radicati, etc. Also use CNET, TechRepublic, SearchXXXX.com, PCWorld, Computer World, CIO/CXO, ezine sites. These tend to be a lot more helpful specifically as they do product comparisons as well as have user discussion forums and blogs. Conferences and/or seminars, product roadshows, etc. are costly in time but provide good value also. So for the instant snapshot of what a product is and does, the vendor site is okay. But to really provide proper research a compilation of all types of web sites, conferences, forums and dare I say, printed material are useful tools.
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  • Jbm125
    My experience with vendors has led me to some conclusions, 1) they must have a history of reliability, in that, what they promise must be what they deliver, excuses are not acceptable, 2) price overruns within limits are not acceptable, 3) familiarity with the project(s) they are hired for is a neccessity, )4 a reputation for honesty is not only refreshing but indispensable. 5) whatever product they deliver must meet the standards imposed prerably by contract. Jack
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  • Bobkberg
    I'm in general agreement with the usefulness of the whatis site - I just learned a few things I didn't know while going over it (Lambda switching/routing leaps to mind). As for vendor content, I rely on it fairly heavily in the initial stages, simply because (to use the example above) if it contains concepts that are new to me, then the first thing that becomes evident is the need for more education. The next area would be how this applies to me or my customers in terms of solving some problem. Where vendor content rapidly loses value is almost any case where the literature or the people cannot explain in plain English (or whatever language) what their product does. Like DrillO (Hi Paul), I will then turn to vendor neutral sites and forums like this to see what other people's experiences have been. Sorry for no numerical rating, but I have not had time to go through your site for more than a few minutes - which would not be fair to you. At the risk of pushing my personal agenda for your "whatis.com" site, I'd like to see the term "maintenance" included at a high level. I might even be willing to write it. Contact me if you're interested. Bob
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