månadsarkiv: maj 2014

Large products and the information available about them

Today I was in the situation where I needed to better understand a product from a large software vendor.  (Oh, by the way, I have a new assignment; I’m an architect at another major Swedish bank now).  I needed to understand what the product is, what it does and a little bit how it works.

I googled the product name and got lots of hits, the first ones were from the vendor.  Here I was overwhelmed by information about why the product is needed, how excellent it is, white papers on specific configurations people have used etc. etc. etc.  But nowhere did I find information that answered my simple question, what is the product, what does it do at its core and how does it work.

Do you, like me, find yourself in this situation a lot?  You search for information about basic questions about a product from a large company but find lots of information about details or specifics that you really don’t need.  The vendor overwhelms you with information but nowhere do they really answer what their product is and what it does.

Why is this? Do they sell more this way?  Maybe I think like an engineer, but I don’t think they sell more.  If they cannot answer these simple questions, a lot of people are turned away…

I also think that smaller vendors are much better at this.  Perhaps they have smaller products that are easier to define and document, but I also think that a lot of smaller vendors are much better at keeping at their core values of the product.  Take YouTube for example (arguably the vendor behind YouTube, which is Google is not a small vendor, but YouTube has its roots in the small-vendor category).  YouTube is fundamentally just a video sharing service.  That is very easy to define.  But they have also stayed that way for very, very long. I imagine that the technical solution behind YouTube is very complex but the set of functionality is still quite small.  As a user, you immediately understand what YouTube is.  Contrast this to something like IBM Websphere which is a huge product (in fact a family of products) that does lots of things and where the information available on the web is huge, but not really useful for most people, like in my example today.