At least if they are smart they will. A good friend of mine over at ContactAndCoil recently posted a great rant about Rockwell Automation and the trials and tribulations of using their online knowledge base.
In this day and age of web 2.0 tools and having (free) information available all the time, Rockwell is still stuck in the pay-for-information model. Their good content is locked away behind a pay wall and only people paying for support contracts get at their knowledge base. Rockwell has great support, and holds the majority market-share in North America in terms of automation components, but this entire industry (not just Rockwell) has not hit mainstream 2.0 yet. (One of the reasons that I started ControlsOverload.)
Paid support content is part of their revenue stream. As Scott pointed out, this model just no longer works. Printed newspapers are tanking, they are trying to convert to paid online content, but really who is going to pay for news they can get on 100 other websites? In Rockwell’s case, if I have an issue or question with one of their products (that I just paid thousands of dollars to get), I now have to make sure my support contract is in order so I can look-up an Internet article that could help me out?
Anyway my point is not to talk about Rockwell, but to point out that Scott’s rant earned him a conference call with Rockwell management, and they were truly interested in his point of view. So Rockwell get some big points here. They are listening in the 2.0 world even if they are stuck with a 1.0 paid content revenue model. Scott discovered that he is not alone in his opinions and Rockwell is planning on making some changes.
The real lesson here is ContactAndCoil. I don’t know how Rockwell discovered Scott’s post, but the fact that Scott was able to vent a bit online in his blog, have a big corporation not only notice, but go a step further to hold a conference call will him, well that is a small voice getting heard.
Another shining example of why I love the participatory web.