Should Manufacturers Publicly Share Technical Docs?By John Honovich, Published on Feb 01, 2010
Technical documentation is important for evaluating products and learning how to optimally use them. User manuals, training materials and videos are some of the most critical. Despite this, a significant number of manufacturers provide no on-line access to this information or only after becoming a registered partner.
The question we examine here: Should these materials be made publicly available?
What Do You Think?
Sharing Publicly is Essential
We believe sharing technical documentation publicly on-line is essential for integrators and end users to effectively evaluate and use products. With today's technology, it's simple for manufacturers to not only share all their user manuals but their training materials as well.
Those Who Do Not Share Are Often Hiding
While manufacturers often talk about 'protecting' this information, we believe the most common reason is that manufacturers are:
- Hiding how difficult their products are to use or
- Hiding that their products cannot meet their marketing claims in 'normal' production environments.
Examples of Sharing Documentation
Most of the large manufacturers provide extensive documentation. Here are a few quick examples:
- Bosch's IP cameras [link no longer available] offer A/E specifications, CAD drawings, Installation Guide, User manual, Technical Service Notes, Selection Guides, etc.
- Pelco's IP cameras [link no longer available] offer A/E specifications, CAD drawings, Installation Guide, User manual, Quick Start Guide, safety instructions, etc.
- Axis's thermal cameras released just last week already have Installation Guide and User Manual, etc.
- A technician is in the field encounters a problem. It is after the manufacturer's business hours, the technician can simply go to the website, download the documentation and find an answer.
- A technician has not been to training and has been assigned to install or service a product. He does not know the login to the manufacturer's partner portal nor does he have time to track this down. Again, he simply goes to the website, downloads the documentation and finds an answer.
- An integrator or end user is evaluating different products and are checking for a few key features that are must haves for their use case. Without having to attend sales calls or fill out applications, they can quickly go to the website and learn for themselves.