SimonStapleton.com

White Paper or Sh1te Paper?

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

How many of the ‘White Papers’ (technical white papers) do you read are quality, informative items, and how many are just marketing crap? In my early career, I found White Papers to be an effective, informative and free way of learning about technology. I used to read a lot of them. Back then (I’m talking about the mid 90’s) a White Paper was for techies wanting to get under the hood of a product or service and make informed decisions about its applicability to a problem or opportunity.

But nowadays, I find the majority to be glorified brochureware with nice artwork and little content. Sure, White Papers are ultimately there to persuade readers to take action towards purchasing a product, but they must do so by being informative and clear on the features, compatibility and dependencies of a product. They should be technical documents for technical people. But I’m finding they’re not. I do wonder why vendors are hiding technical detail in favor of selling.

Is this a recent shift (last 2-3 years)? What might explain it… My conclusion is that there are a number of reasons why this is the case, but here are a few key explanations:

  • Competition in the technology space is very aggressive. Although patents exist to protect vendors from copying their products, competitive forces mean that product comparisons by technical people can highlight gaps. Hiding some of the technical details and selling the benefits means that techies have to gain more hands-on experience with the vendor’s product, which also means the selling process can begin more aggressively
  • Technology in the modern business climate is acquired by business people as well as technical people, so the audience for White Papers has broadened. Which in turn means the content has become more shallow
  • The growth of Software as a Service (SaaS) and other service models is reducing the need in business consumers to understand software soup-to-nuts. Buyers of IT services now care more about cost-benefit rather than technical gubbins, which is a fair place to be
  • The role of IT leaders like a CIO has changed over the last 10 years towards being a business partner, so the focus of IT leaders has become less technical

Look, I’m not so naive to think that vendors are going to give unbiased information out for free, especially if it could benefit competitors. As I said, they are there to convince and persuade customers to begin the buying process. But I’d like them to be several leagues better than an ad in GQ or Playboy: give us proper content!

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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SimonStapleton.com located at Watledge , Stroud, UK . Reviewed by 18,205 readers rated: 1 / 10
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