Why SAP Mystifies Topics

What This Article Covers

  • The Process of Mystifying Areas
  • The Hypnotic Properties of Inscrutable Words
  • SAP’s Army of Enablers
  • The Opposite of the Richard Feynman Technique of Learning


At Brightwork we have repeatedly shown that SAP provides false information to customers as part of a standard practice. Readers can see our research into SAP’s accuracy in the research article A Study into SAP’s Accuracy.

The Process of Mystifying Areas

SAP mystifies things, precisely to “pull one over on people.” That is why after listening to SAP; you know less than when you started.

This video is a perfect example of how SAP will take a subject, and through adding false information and false claims, leave the recipient of the message with not only a misimpression of SAP’s accomplishments and offering in an area, but a misimpression of the overall area! SAP’s information can be considered counter-educational. Its intent is to promote a false understanding on the part of the message recipient. 

The Hypnotic Properties of Inscrutable Words

If an entity can use a term you do not know and keep that term mystical, then it gives that entity power over you. SAP will often combine multiple buzzwords into a single sentence or throughout a paragraph with the intent of finding one that the listener does not know.

Hasso Plattner does this very clearly in his books. Hasso Plannter books are chocked full of false information and exaggerated claims. They are also exhausting to read because of their non-stop claims and the fact that will make claims in so many areas that it is difficult to keep up. And actually, that is the whole point. The claims in a book like this would require a person to set aside over a month, potentially two in order to validate the claims, which would also be required looking up a huge amount of terminology. Hasso knows that people do not have time to do this, so you are always one step behind Hasso’s claims. 

Being one of the few entities having performed a great deal of research into Hasso Plattner’s claims, we can say with confidence that virtually none of the things that Hasso says ever end up coming true. However, it should be understood that there is no financial reason for other entities to perform this research. It has to be done for reasons of curiosity, as there is very little financial market for fact-checking the claims of software vendors. The financial market exists on the other side of the equation, which is repeating claims made by software vendors. And because there is no financial market, it will normally not get done.

SAP’s Army of Enablers

If a normal process of validation or fact checking occurred, Hasso Plattner would have no credibility left as he has been doing this for decades. However, because SAP pays so many media entities, and the consulting companies that specialize in SAP are “in on it,” and repeat these falsehoods, there is almost no one with any interest in calling out Hasso Plattner. Even competing vendors, typically have some type of partnership with SAP that contractually prevents them from criticizing SAP.

Hasso’s intent is to overwhelm the audience with information that is difficult for them to validate. Hasso Plattner has a Ph.D., but he does not behave as a Ph.D., instead, his statements are more similar to a well-known circus promoter. However, Ph.D.’s are not supposed to be used to provide an aura of credibility for a person to lie. Our view is that anyone who has a Ph.D. but shows no concern for what is true, no longer truly has one. 

The Opposite of the Richard Feynman Technique of Learning

Richard Feynman, the great physicist, talks about how complicated words are also used to disguise our own lack of understanding. This is covered in the following quote:

“There are two types of knowledge and most of us focus on the wrong one. The first type of knowledge focuses on knowing the name of something. The second focuses on knowing something. These are not the same thing. The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

A lot of people tend to use complicated vocabulary and jargon to mask when they don’t understand something. The problem is we only fool ourselves because we don’t know that we don’t understand. Also, using jargon conceals our misunderstanding from those around us.”

  • Step 1: Try to explain the concept in simple terms without jargon.
  • Step 2: This is invaluable feedback because you’ve discovered the edge of your knowledge. Competence knows the limit of your abilities, and you’ve just identified one!
  • Step 3: Now you have a set of hand-crafted notes. Review them to make sure you didn’t mistakenly borrow any of the jargon from the source material.


SAP actively attempts to confuse its customers. This allows SAP to control the impression of what SAP offers and it presents things to customers that SAP has never accomplished or been involved in. As new buzzwords come along, SAP will grab hold of them, and then migrate previous unfulfilled promises to the new buzzwords. All of this is designed to keep customers maximally confused and less able to fact check SAP’s statements.


The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything

How to Understand The Rising Complexity of SAP Contracts

What This Article Covers

  • Why are SAP Contracts Becoming so Complex?
  • Publicly Supporting Open Connections, While In Reality Offering Control?
  • The Increased Overhead of Using SAP
  • The Increased Need for Clause Clarification


SAP talks a lot about simplification, but SAP’s contracts are becoming more complex and more limiting in terms of what customers can do with SAP’s software. In this article, we will get into this little topic for which there is so little published information.

Example of the Cloud Connector

SAP has the following to say about its Cloud Connector.

An analysis by a commenter stated the following:

It is supported to run S/4 HANA on AWS as IaaS provider, the same for SCP (fka HCP). But it really seems not wanted to use more from AWS than the virtual OS. You even have to solve basics like connectivity yourself when you leave the SAP world. “Must not” – a license restriction?

Publicly Supporting Open Connections, While In Reality Offering Control?

Once again, SAP restricts the usage of its products to other SAP products. This is done even after SAP proposing that it is in favor of open standards. It should be remembered that middleware companies never limit the usage of their adapters. However, SAP does.

This type of language is littered all through SAP’s contract documentation. It is an orientation to control things, so they maximally benefit SAP. So that SAP controls how the software is used. This is a growing problem and liability with using SAP. Actually, by upgrading to newer versions of SAP, the customer ends up with more restrictions than in older versions, so the restrictions are being ratcheted up.

Control and the Cloud

SAP talks a good game about partnering with Azure, but the control they want combined with public hosting like Azure or AWS means things get super weird. You are making me think about another article Rolf! That is the second time in a week!

Recently I spent time trying to figure out what a contract restriction means or S/4HANA with the person at an SAP customer.

The SAP account executive has no idea what the clause means. It actually took them three weeks to come back with a clarification that did not seem to clarify anything.


This all means the legal overhead in using SAP is increasing. And attorneys aren’t enough. The customer’s attorney has to work with an IT contract person because figuring out the definition means combining IT with legal.



Angela Merkel Loves Herself Some Hasso Plattner Institute

What This Article Covers

  • Angela Merkel and Company Love the HPI
  • What is The Real Story with the Hasso Plattner Institute?
  • What Does Angela Merkel Know About the Hasso Plattner Institute?
  • The Problem with Government and Business Alignment


It is always interesting to find something that the participants thought was a good thing, but when viewed by others is a cause for concern.

In this article, we will review just such an item, which is the listing of powerful German politicians on the Hasso Plattner Institute website.

Angela Merkel and Company Love the HPI

This article may be titled Angela Merkel Loves Herself Some Hasso Plattner Institute.

However, notice the various people providing quotations in support of the Hasso Plattner Institute.

That is a lot of nice things that have been said, isn’t it?

What is The Real Story with the Hasso Plattner Institute?

We have a different view of the Hasso Plattner Institute. We view it as a propaganda apparatus for SAP to promote HANA. And while Hasso Plattner has a Ph.D., we cannot accept him as a professor because in so many books and quotations he shows extremely little interest in what is true, which is why we call him the PT Barnum of enterprise software.

We are a research entity and take research seriously. However, performing research means following a series of rules. It means limiting one’s statements to what can be proven. When has Hasso Plattner ever done this? Hasso Plattner wants to have it both ways. He wants to make a virtually unlimited number of unsubstantiated statements, but then also wants to be considered to have the integrity of a scientifically based academic. Perhaps one can explain how a person who is primarily concerned with what is true over what is profit maximizing ends up being worth $20 billion? 

Any research performed by the Hasso Plattner Institute must be consistent with the outlines of Hasso Plattner and with SAP. However the problem is that Hasso Plattner has routinely exaggerated what HANA can do (as we cover in many articles, but one being When Articles Exaggerate HANA’s Benefits. Both SAP and Hasso Plattner have lied about “inventing” HANA as we covered in the article Did Hasso Plattner and His Ph.D. Students Invent HANA?

What Does Angela Merkel Know About the Hasso Plattner Institute?

In our review of a wide variety of vendors, we cannot find another vendor that lies as frequently as SAP. Therefore, does this sound like a good starting place to create a research institute?

Does Angela Merkel know that SAP provides only one benchmark to verify its performance claims and that that benchmark is in the one type of database processing that HANA does well (as we cover in the article What is the Actual Performance of HANA?)

The issue is that the Hasso Plattner Institute cannot be divorced from the claims made about HANA and the fact that HANA cannot meet the vast majority of these claims.

The Problem with Government and Business Alignment

When governments are tightly connected to business, business seeks to have the government protect them from market forces. Do any of the people on this list know how SAP competes? Do they care? What happens if at some point the German government needs to intervene to stop SAP from acting in a monopolistic fashion? Will the German government be willing to do it after being so chummy with SAP?

Angela Merkel already removed the German government from any blame in the VW diesel scandal where VW was found to have installed software that allowed their highly polluting Golf’s to cheat emissions tests.

Ms Merkel also rejected a suggestion from committee members that VW’s cheating had amounted to a “failure of government” and ruled out reform of Germany’s transport authority in response to the affair.

“This was not [the government’s] scandal; it was VW’s scandal,” she said.

Merkel then lied to the EU commission about the well known polluting properties of diesel. The following is from Financial Times magazine.

In addition, Ms Merkel warned against efforts to demonise diesel technology, noting that diesel cars emitted less carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, than petrol cars and so were more environmentally friendly.

She also argued against excessive regulation of an industry that employs nearly 800,000 people in Germany. “We should have regulation that is ambitious, but not to such an extent that cars can no longer be produced [here],” she said.

According to Merkel, overly ambitious regulations would mean testing German automobiles such that those cars could not cheat on emission tests.

She said she had entrusted her transport minister Alexander Dobrindt, who has oversight over the German car industry, to investigate the affair on behalf of the government, and saw “nothing wrong” with his handling of the issue.

Yes, one of the most massive failures of automobile regulation is not the fault of the government of the country where they are made!

Germany’s political system is highly intertwined with the German automobile industry with politicians shuttling back and forth to the German automobile companies for employment. As pointed out by DW magazine.

The NGO’s report also detailed how the ties between the government and the auto industry, particularly Volkswagen, helped car manufacturers to carry on evading emissions tests – even though environmental groups had for years pointed out the discrepancies in emissions tests. It took US environmental authorities to uncover the practice, which eventually led to a $2.8 billion criminal fine for VW and the resignation of Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn in November 2015. On Thursday it emerged that US authorities have filed arrest warrants for five former VW executives at Interpol.

“There are very close relationships, but VW isn’t any more influential than the others, BMW or Daimler,” said LobbyControl spokeswoman Christina Deckwirth.

Germany has become particularly notable for the ease with which top businessmen find roles in politics and vice versa. The automobile industry has, as Deckwirth put it, “noticeably many” such revolving doors to the government. “What you notice in particular is how many come out of Merkel’s circle,” she said. “She really seems to have very close relationships there.”

“The interesting thing about him is that he played a role in the cover-up affair when it came to investigating the emissions scandal,” said Deckwirth. “We think that is very illustrative – that shows that Merkel lacks the sensibility for this issue. German politicians see themselves as protectors of the car industry.”


Articles have been written about German political ties to the German automobile industry, but it is almost assured that if the onion were peeled back on the relationship between SAP and the German government that one would find very similar ties. Given Angela Merkel’s assinine defense of her government regarding the VW diesel cheating scandal, that something similar would occur for any scandal that engulfed SAP.





How Accurate Was SAP on their Google Alliance?

What This Article Covers

  • Collaborating with Business Analytics and Enterprise Applications?
  • Lumira Saving to Google Sheets?
  • SuccessFactors to Allow for Hyperlinks?
  • All of SAP’s Competitors (Magically) Becoming More Complex?


In the ComputerWorld article SAP CEO Touts Tighter Google Ties, SAP proposed a substantial tie to Google. In this article, we will analyze the accuracy of this tie.

The Article Quotes

This article says it was written by Katherine Noyes. However, the article is less than 300 words long. ComputerWorld appears to be stretching the definition of an “article.”

Collaborating with Business Analytics and Enterprise Applications?

SAP is deepening its partnership with Google and will collaborate with the search giant on new projects focused on business analytics and enterprise applications.

The new collaboration will result, for example, in tighter integration between Google Apps and SAP’s Lumira analytics platform, according to SAP CEO Bill McDermott.

Ok, so what is the integration going to be? Let’s find out.

Lumira Saving to Google Sheets?

Users can already combine Google Sheets with enterprise data through the SAP Lumira extensions framework for visualizations, dashboards and insights. Now, the two companies are working to have Lumira visualizations and infographics save in Google Drive, where Lumira files could be accessed and shared. Companies will also be able to store the files as native Google Docs.

Ahh…okay. So Lumira will be able to save files as Google Docs and Google Sheets? This is a bit like saying that an application can save files to Excel. Ordinarily, this would not be something noteworthy.

SuccessFactors to Allow for Hyperlinks?

The collaboration on other enterprise applications, meanwhile, will focus initially on SAP’s SuccessFactors software for human capital management and its Fiori user interface. Among the goals will be to integrate the SuccessFactors suite with Google Drive and to let employees use Google Apps from within Fiori.

SuccessFactors has some Fiori apps, but SuccessFactors has its own UI that precedes its acquisition by SAP.

This paragraph makes no sense. Is there really an advantage to accessing a Google Drive file from SuccessFactors? Is this something that needs to be programmed by SAP. This should be a hyperlink to a good document. Watch, this is a link to a Google Document file.


Why is that noteworthy?

SAP appears to be saying that they will allow SuccessFactors to have hyperlinks added to various fields. Is this something to announce?

“If it makes it easier for people to use Google tools and SAP data together on their devices, that will make work life better,” McDermott said during a keynote speech Tuesday at the company’s annual Sapphire user conference in Orlando. He called the partnership a “prime example of SAP’s change agenda.”

Really? Or is it an example of hyperlinks and the Internet which goes back to the 1990s?

SAP has already been working with Google to support Android for Work. It recently released SAP Mobile Secure 2.7 with Android for Work support.

All of SAP’s Competitors (Magically?) Becoming More Complex?

Much of McDermott’s speech continued the “run simple” theme SAP has been articulating for some time already as part of its marketing for its Hana in-memory data platform.

“As SAP sees its competitors getting more complex, it’s clearly trying to establish its own turf at the other end of the spectrum,” said Robert Eastman, a research manager with IDC. “Whether customers also feel it’s simple remains to be seen.”

What evidence does SAP have that SAP is seeing competitors are getting more complex? Is SAP going to bother to explain why it sees this?

SAP’s applications are well known as the more complicated applications that can be purchased. Should SAP really be stating that other vendors are “getting more complex.”

This article is inane. It receives a score of 1 out of 10 for accuracy.



Enterprise Software Risk

See our free project risk estimators that are available per application. The provide a method of risk analysis that is not available from other sources.

How to Best Understand the SAP Digital Transformation Navigator

What This Article Covers

  • Why Digital Transformation is a Term of Propaganda
  • Enter SAP’s Digital Transformation Manager
  • The DT Navigator for Saving Money on SAP Consultants?


After many years analyzing various methodologies, tools or assistive items offered by both consulting companies and SAP, it is curious how often the item in question ends up being simply another way for the consulting company or for SAP to get the customer to do what they want. SAP’s Rapid Development Solutions (as we covered in How to Best Understand SAP’s Faux RDS, turned out to be primarily a way to get customers to think they could implement SAP faster than was actually possible. The SAP ASAP Methodology, (which we cover in Did SAP ASAP Methodology Ever Reduce Project Timelines?) was essentially intended to do the same thing.

Neither of these items had any positive effect on projects, and most likely worsened projects by creating unrealistic expectations.

Why Digital Transformation is a Term of Propaganda

It should be noted that the term digital transformation actually is a meaningless term as applied to modern IT projects, which we cover in the article The Problem with Digital Transformation and Modern IT Projects. The reason being is that term digital transformation applies to a change that occurs when something is first converted from non-digital to digital. You can’t apply the term to a movement between two processes that are both digital. So we are beginning this journey with what is a term of propaganda. The definition of which is a term that allows the user to present unsupported assumptions to the listener.

Enter SAP’s Digital Transformation Manager

The following video explains the Digital Transformation Manager.

Interesting actions of note are the following:

Here the “Open Decision” under the category of Supply Chain Management is that what the customer uses is not the recommended solution from SAP. 

Once the previous screen’s Open Decision button is selected one taken to this screen, where the customer is allowed to choose between the Public Cloud and On Premises. If the user selects, then they are taken to the following screen.

Here the customer is using SAP Demand Planning today, but SAP recommends SAP Integrated Business Planning or IBP.

Well, that seems so simple, but that is a huge decision with many cost implications. SAP DP happens to be an application that few companies get very much value out of, but IBP is still not widely implemented. Naturally, SAP would like companies to move to their newest software, but SAP DP never met any of the claims for it that SAP set forth. Obviously, another option would be to either replace DP with a non-SAP application or to augment DP with a non-SAP application. Those are real options, but the more the customer uses the DT Navigator, the less they will be likely to ask those questions. In this way, the DT Navigator can be seen as an anti-decision making tool. The DT Navigator is designed very simply to get customers to do exactly what SAP wants them to do.

The DT Navigator for Saving Money on SAP Consultants?

Is there a way to actually derive value from the DT Navigator?

We think there might be.

At the conclusion of the video, it is stated that the DT Navigator is designed for both customers and partners. So consulting partners will use the DT Navigator to come up with what they should tell customers to do. As SAP consulting companies don’t do much else when it comes to advise but repeat what SAP says if one views the DT Navigator as simply SAP’s official position on products (that not that the DT Navigator necessarily contains 100% truthful information) then a customer could use the the DT Navigator to cut out the middleman of having to pay an SAP consultant to tell them what they can find from the DT Navigator.


The SAP Digital Transformation Manager is a sales tool designed to get the customer to do more of what SAP wants. It is presented under the cloak of providing a clear and easy tool, but has as an important built-in assumption that the user accepts the information presented as “recommendations” and that SAP’s only motivation for providing this tool is to “help their customers!”

One should be suspicious of information provided by software vendors or consulting companies that are only introduced to help the customer. 

The pure SAP marketing message is delivered to the Digital Transformation Manager. For example, SAP IBP, is still very lightly installed — and requires purchasing HANA, which comes with a number of negative issues in addition to being the most expensive database among all of the options in the category.

Perhaps not surprisingly, these details are left out of the SAP Digital Transformation Manager.

But the DT Navigator can add value to customers, but primarily to reduce the number of hours that are billed by SAP consultants to simply repeat what SAP tells them.


Enterprise Software Risk

See our free project risk estimators that are available per application. The provide a method of risk analysis that is not available from other sources.

The Fallacy of the Benefits of an Integrated Suite

What This Article Covers

  • The Presentation of the Integrated Suite Concept
  • Virtually All Applications (Integrated Suite or Point Solutions) Are “Integrated”
  • After the Acquisition of a Vendor, How is The Integration Story “So Much Better?”
  • Integrated Suites Tend to be More Expensive in Multiple Dimensions (i.e., Have a Higher TCO)
  • Integration Suites as a Way to Reduce Competition?
  • Integration is Not a Primary Driver of TCO
  • How Consulting Companies Undermine any Intelligent Software Selection Process for Their Own Ends
  • The Most Important Feature in the Software Correlated to Implementation Success
  • An Often Repeated Evidence-Free Assertion


One of the largest trends in enterprise software was ERP vendors acquiring their way into non-ERP applications. (In the case of Oracle, it was Oracle moving into applications overall, purchasing both ERP and non-ERP systems).

A major reason why software vendors have gone on acquisition sprees is due to the resonance of the concept of the single integrated suite.

In this article, we will review the philosophy that integrated suites and gets into more detail than is typically done when this term is used.

The Presentation of the Integrated Suite Philosophy

The presentation of the integrated suite philosophy is that integration between applications that are not from the same vendor is complicated. The concept is that while it may be acceptable to give up functionality and fit between the application and the business requirements, it is highly desirable to purchase as much software as possible from a single vendor into order to receive integration benefits.

There are significant holes with this philosophy even though it is quite prevalent.

Virtually All Applications (Integrated Suite or Point Solutions) Are “Integrated”

Here is the standard type of completely integrated marketing hyperbole offered by integrated suite vendors.

“The SAP NetWeaver technology platform is a comprehensive integration and application platform that helps reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO).”

This sentence is inaccurate. NetWeaver never did anything to improve integration on projects and was more marketing construct than an actual product as is covered in the article Did Netweaver Ever Actually Exist?

But this concept was effectively used to push customers to buy from SAP, and customers found out that Netweaver did nothing to reduce integration overhead. In fact, the argument before Netweaver offered by SAP was that all of their applications were already integrated with each other. If that was the case then why was Netweaver necessary.

Unless the application sits on the same database as another application, all applications require adapters. The only applications that meet this standard are the various modules within an ERP system. For example..

  • The sales module of an ERP system sits on the same database as the finance module. In that case, there is no integration.
  • But this is not true of any non-ERP application.

Sometimes the adapters are internal to a vendor, and sometimes the adapters are between applications from different vendors.

But, because in many cases the software that is sold as part of an “integrated suite” is from a variety of different vendors, the adapters that you receive from integrated suites are often nothing more than the adapter the acquired application already had when they were part of the pre-acquisition independent vendor.

Furthermore, the idea that being acquired by a larger software vendor better or more complete adapters to be created is also an oversimplification. There are many stories of integration still being a problem years after an acquisition. In the case of the SAP acquisition of Ariba, Steve Lucas of SAP made a strange statement that we covered in the article The Problems with Diginomica on Steve Lucas on HANA, Oracle, IBM, AWS, and Microsoft.

Steve Lucas made the following statement to Diginomica, that, of course, Diginomica allowed to pass without comment.

We are integrating that (one of that being Ariba) with our logistics applications, our inventory applications.)

There is a three year lag between the acquisition of Ariba and this comment by Steve Lucas. How many years are necessary for SAP to integrate an acquisition to SAP’s ERP system?

After the Acquisition of a Vendor, How is The Integration Story “So Much Better?”

Applications tend to have adapters to the major ERP systems both to ease the sales process and to speed the integration process. Therefore it is a great oversimplification to give an integrated suite so much preference over applications that are from different vendors. In fact, if a vendor is acquired and already had an existing adapter to the company that acquired it, what changed from the integration perspective due to the acquisition?

We cover this topic specifically in the book Enterprise Software TCO: Calculating and Using Total Cost of Ownership For Decision Making.

…while many companies like SAP and Oracle lead executives to believe that they will incur minimal integration overhead if they purchase one of their non-ERP applications to connect to their ERP applications, this is untrue. All of SAP and Oracle’s applications sit on different hardware, and while they may have adapters, they are not actually integrated – they have different databases (the term “integrated” is colloquially used to mean any connected systems, but most accurately it means that the systems sit on the same database – when systems have adapters between them, they are not actually technically integrated). The quality and ease of use of these adapters is often not actually superior to the adapters that are written to connect best of breed applications to the ERP system.

Integrated Suites Tend to be More Expensive in Multiple Dimensions (i.e., Have a Higher TCO)

Integrated suite vendor tends to charge more than point solutions. For example, when an application is acquired by IBM, one of the immediate effects is for the price of that application to significantly rise. But the change in the price of the application license is only one part of the increased TCO.

Integrated suite is also more often implemented by large consulting companies, which increases their TCO. This is the truest of the largest integrated suites and consulting companies will normally only build consulting specialties around these largest vendors. As soon as the application is implemented by a consulting company an consulting company builds a practice around the software, the costs very significantly increase. Consulting companies not only charge more on a daily basis than the consultants of software vendors (not in all cases, but in most cases) but they also lengthen the implementation duration.

And they do this often against the wishes of the software vendor. This extra cost easily overwhelms any increased integration costs that come from integrating point solutions to the existing systems at the account.

Integration Suites as a Way to Reduce Competition?

It is no secret that software vendors do not acquire other vendors to increase the competition that they face. Our research into the growth of ERP vendors other associated applications, after ERP vendors told customers that ERP systems were the only applications they would ever need, is covered in our book The Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fact from Fiction.

…this has meant that the business does not get the software it needs. Software selection based on software suites does not emphasize each application (emphasis added), but instead emphasizes the suite. As explained in this quote from Christopher Koch of CIO Magazine, software suites themselves are mechanisms that reduce the competition a vendor must face.

“Indeed, integration standards interfere with ERP vendors’ traditional ways of gaining and keeping customers and market share. Before the Web came along, your integration strategy was simple: Buy as many pre integrated applications from a single vendor as possible. That worked for you, and it worked extremely well for the vendor; integrated application suites fetched a high price and required long- term maintenance and support contracts that promised a steady, predictable stream of revenue from customers.”—ABCs of ERP

How well is that working for companies that bought ERP systems? Did companies find that they were able to eliminate all legacy systems and not use any non-ERP systems?

Integration is Not a Primary Driver of TCO

There is no one else that has performed as much work into TCO as Brightwork Research & Analysis. Our free TCO calculators are available for anyone to use. The poor state of TCO research was uncovered as part of our investigation into TCO, that is the literature review we performed before creating our calculators and writing the only book on the TCO of enterprise software systems. We were not able to find any reliable studies on TCO. Most TCO calculations, for instance, those we analyzed from Salesforce, are simply created by the marketing department of the software vendor. And “shockingly,” in each case we examined the TCO estimation released by the vendor showed them as having the lowest TCO in 100% of the occasions.

One of the conclusions from our research is that integration is an overestimated cost by both the largest software vendors and the consulting companies that align with integrated suites for their own financial reasons. Through recommending an integrated suite, consulting companies can drive their “client” into the highest TCO outcomes.

It should also be remembered that large consulting companies do not want their customers to know what the TCO of different solutions is. This is because consulting companies like Deloitte or Accenture are significant drivers of the higher TCOs. In our calculators, the highest TCOs routinely came from the purchase of large software suites implemented by the largest consulting companies. In fact, the major consulting companies are a primary reason why the ROI on so many application implementations are actually negative as is covered in How Enterprise Software Was Parasitized by Consulting Firms.

In fact, an extra benefit of using smaller vendors and more point solutions is that companies like Deloitte and Accenture don’t have resources trained and available in those applications, and the applications are typically implemented by the vendor’s consultants.

How Consulting Companies Undermine any Intelligent Software Selection Process for Their Ends

Consulting companies like to create “uni-crop” software environments which allow them to have large numbers of consultants in a relatively smaller number of applications. Consulting companies overstate their software coverage and resource specialization to their clients on a routine basis. They will often hire independent consultants off of the market (as the client could have done) and then present the independent consultant as if they are a full-time employee, and that represent furthermore, the consulting company was somehow responsible for developing their skills. The consulting firms demand a significant margin on the resources even if they just met the resource a week ago.

Our risk research into software risk and which calls into question the quality and objectivity of the information provided by large IT consulting companies is covered in the book Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk. The following quotation is from this book.

Is there a way to test this hypothesis?

The question we had was whether clients that followed the advice of major consulting companies would receive the benefit of lower risk implementations. As it turns out, there is a way to test this question. The applications recommended by the major consulting companies are rated for risk (among other characteristics such as maintainability, usability, functionality and implement-ability) in the Software Decisions MUFI Rating & Risk evaluation. We compared the MUFI Rating & Risk evaluation for applications in ten software categories and compared them to software that the major consulting companies typically recommend.

The research shows that the applications recommended by the major consulting companies always have a high or the highest TCO (total cost of owner-ship) in the respective software category, along with the highest risk. The reason is simple: not a single major consulting company that provides IT services is a fiduciary. This means Accenture, IBM, Deloitte, etc., have no legal responsibility to place their client’s interests ahead of their own. And the internal incentives laid out within each consulting company, where sales is far more esteemed than implementing the software successfully, or even implementing the best software (there is no measure for this whatsoever) means that the customer’s interests are a distant second to the profit-maximizing interest of the consulting company. It is in the financial self-interest of these major consulting companies to recommend software for which they have trained resources ready to bill—therefore it is this software that is recommended.

The Most Important Feature in the Software Correlated to Implementation Success

This has lead us to conclude that the most important feature of the success of an implementation is the match between the business requirements and the selected software. Not whether the software comes from a single vendor. There can be cases where more than one application purchased from one vendor meets the business requirements of a customer, but each application should be able to win in each area on its own merits without having to rely upon the “crutch” of being part of a suite of applications offered by one vendor.

The degree of match is a major determinant of the overall risk of the implementation. That is pushing for an integrated solution at the expense the fit with business requirements will result in a higher risk that the project either never goes live or that after it goes live the value it provides to the company will be minimal.

An Often Repeated Evidence-Free Assertion

The integrated suite argument, most prominently from ERP vendors is at its essence and the evidence-free assertion that is put forward by integrated suite vendors and reinforced by consulting companies who have a financial interest in repeating and companies like Gartner. They receive the most vendor income from the largest vendors and who slant their Magic Quadrants in the direction of the largest vendors.

To provide evidence would require a little work, and the outcome would go in the opposite direction of the assertion. In fact, we have provided more evidence against the integrated suite argument in this one article you are reading than has been provided to support the integrated suite argument.

This says a lot about how little assumptions are verified in the IT space.

IT buyers have proven extremely susceptible to misleading simplistic platitudes that are promulgated not because they are true but because they fit the financial incentives of those that promote these concepts. The most prominent IT analysts companies have proven useless in educating IT buyers on these inaccuracies because, in part, they are paid by the largest software vendors and consulting companies to perform well in their various published ratings. 


Those vendors that offer integrated suites universally attempt to make their customers overestimate the degree to which their applications are integrated to one another, and push their prospects to overestimate the impact on TCO of application integration. Furthermore, they also minimize the adapters that the point solution providers have created for the major ERP systems.

Therefore the largest software vendors, the consulting companies, and the IT analysts (by in large) push the integrated suite concept as improving implementation outcomes, not because it is true, but because they find it to be profit maximizing.


TCO Book


Enterprise Software TCO: Calculating and Using Total Cost of Ownership for Decision Making

Getting to the Detail of TCO

One aspect of making a software purchasing decision is to compare the Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO, of the applications under consideration: what will the software cost you over its lifespan? But most companies don’t understand what dollar amounts to include in the TCO analysis or where to source these figures, or, if using TCO studies produced by consulting and IT analyst firms, how the TCO amounts were calculated and how to compare TCO across applications.

The Mechanics of TCO

Not only will this book help you appreciate the mechanics of TCO, but you will also gain insight as to the importance of TCO and understand how to strip away the biases and outside influences to make a real TCO comparison between applications.
By reading this book you will:
  • Understand why you need to look at TCO and not just ROI when making your purchasing decision.
  • Discover how an application, which at first glance may seem inexpensive when compared to its competition, could end up being more costly in the long run.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the cost, categories to include in an accurate and complete TCO analysis.
  • Learn why ERP systems are not a significant investment, based on their TCO.
  • Find out how to recognize and avoid superficial, incomplete or incorrect TCO analyses that could negatively impact your software purchase decision.
  • Appreciate the importance and cost-effectiveness of a TCO audit.
  • Learn how SCM Focus can provide you with unbiased and well-researched TCO analyses to assist you in your software selection.
  • Chapter 1:  Introduction
  • Chapter 2:  The Basics of TCO
  • Chapter 3:  The State of Enterprise TCO
  • Chapter 4:  ERP: The Multi-Billion Dollar TCO Analysis Failure
  • Chapter 5:  The TCO Method Used by Software Decisions
  • Chapter 6:  Using TCO for Better Decision Making

Enterprise Software Risk

See our free project risk estimators that are available per application. The provide a method of risk analysis that is not available from other sources.

How to Compete with the Mirage Offered by SAP

What This Article Covers

  • What is the SAP Mirage?
  • SAP’s Influence Over IT Media
  • Information that Can Travel
  • Where We Come In
  • How We Make Money
  • How We Help You With The Prospect’s In-House Consulting Advice


This article is for software vendors that compete with SAP. We will cover one of the most influential techniques used by SAP to win in accounts where they have a weak product offering. We will then discuss what vendors can do to combat this.

What is the SAP Mirage?

The SAP mirage is a combination of factors that move the discussion away from what SAP has into a discussion about a fantasy of what SAP has. Examples of techniques that support the creation of this mirage are:

  • Selling Off of SAP Roadmaps: SAP prefers to spend as much time as possible discussing the future of their products versus the present. When we supported SAP sales engagements in a technical capacity, customers were told by the salesperson to ignore the SAP UI (called the SAPGUI) because a new user interface was coming that was going to “blow the customer away.” Three years after this promise, the new user interface the salesperson was talking about (Personas) is dead, and the one that followed, Fiori, is on life support (and we predict will eventually die as we cover in the article Understanding Why Fiori Won’t Be Able to Survive).
  • Selling Exaggerated Products: This topic gets virtually no IT media coverage, which is a story in its own right. However, SAP constantly exaggerates what its products can do. SAP places functionality into its products that often can’t be practically accessed or once accessed can’t be maintained. SAP has the widest discrepancy we have ever recorded between what it says its products can do versus what they can do in actual practice.
  • Co-option: SAP is a master at co-opting concepts and trends that it not only has nothing to do with, but that its business model is opposed to. Cloud, SOA, “modular architecture,” the list goes on and on. Whatever is popular at the time, SAP “has always been about that” or has a partnership with some vendor that does precisely that, or is working on something that will meet that popular need. However SAP keeps to the strategy that has worked for it, and this does not mean doing anything to make its products less expensive to implement, easier to use with other applications, etc..

We have published the most analysis of SAP and have the only full-time SAP researcher that we are aware that exists. In our view, no one is more skilled at selling a future with less supporting information than SAP. We have covered in other articles how S/4 HANA is not even released yet, and how its implementation numbers are greatly exaggerated as explained in the article How SAP Controls Perceptions with Customer Numbers, and how it has been found to be roughly 95% identical to its predecessor (ECC).

SAP’s Influence Over IT Media

No other vendor is as effective at getting a vast number of influencers, IT media entities or SAP consulting companies to repeat SAP’s messaging. For example, people like Hasso Plattner and Bill McDermott speak as if S/4 is already providing value to customers, and this has been little questioned in the IT media. Our Study into S/4HANA Implementations, indicates that this is highly unlikely.

As a vendor, you know your application, and it’s valued and how to position it. But….are you prepared to compete not with SAP’s actual application something that does not and will never exist? 

  • Whatever you have, SAP is working on something that they will be released soon that is “better.”
  • If SAP has no experience in that application category, it makes no difference. They will partner with a vendor that is, promise them access to their clients, and slowly reverse engineer their products. With their market power, the only reason SAP is not successful in more areas is their development organization is inefficient.

For instance, according to Hasso Plattner, SAP already has the BEST USER INTERFACE in enterprise software (although it is barely used by customers) And the future SAP application will be integrated to SAP ERP (of course).

Old applications, like CRM, PLM, EWM, SPP, Netweaver that did not work out don’t count as misses in the minds of your potential customers. The promise of the future continually beacons to them.

SAP is, after all, working on next level stuff better in every way in every application area than any other vendor on earth.

  • It’s all web (or on-premises)!
  • They are re-imagining business processes!
  • It’s all completely integrated!
  • Steve Wozniak is at SAPPHIRE this year!

Vendors that compete with SAP are not competing against what SAP has to sell. If it were that straightforward, SAP would lose a lot of its market share.

Instead, vendors must compete with a mirage that is created by SAP marketing. As alluded to earlier, many, perhaps most of the announcements made by SAP never come to pass.

Effectively Fighting Back

When competing against SAP, it’s not enough to present your software’s value proposition, because SAP will present an illusion, which will be backed up and endorsed by SAP consulting companies. SAP must be called out on the accuracy of the information they provide.

What is a major issue is drawing a distinction between SAP’s hypothetical capability versus is practical capability? What is not always, but often in short supply for vendors is an understanding of what the actual implementation history of an SAP product is.

Differentiating from the true parts of SAP’s products and continuous announcements from the marketing hyperbole is a significant overhead item for vendors.

Where We Come In

Brightwork Research & Analysis has the largest amount of research into SAP.

  • We Are Not Paid by SAP: As is Gartner and Forrester.
  • Actionable Intelligence: And we do actual research that is actionable by sales teams.
  • Going Deeper: Unlike virtually any analyst in IT, we have decades of SAP implementation experience. In fact, Brightwork was started due to the differential we observed between SAP’s marketing claims and the reality of SAP projects.
  • Our SAP Global Contacts: We have grown our SAP project contact base to the point where we know what is happening on real projects.

We are specialists in SAP in not merely in one dimension, but in many. We have provided some of the most in-depth coverage of indirect access, we were the first to call out the performance exaggerations of HANA, the first to describe the limitations of SAP DP as well as the first to predict the decline of Solution Manager. Our list of firsts is extensive.

How We Help You With The Prospect’s In-House Consulting Advice

If you are competing in SAP accounts, this means you are not only competing against SAP, but against a consulting company that makes its money from implementing SAP.

  • You may give the best demo of all time.
  • You may have demonstrated the ability to meet every one of the customer’s requirements.

As soon as you depart the client, Accenture, Deloitte, (fill in the blank), undertake to undermine your credibility.

Statements that are made by the consulting company might be..

“We still don’t know how well the solution will work with SAP.”

“SAP is coming out with something that will be very similar. We don’t want to see you go down this pathway when we can get essentially the same thing from SAP just by waiting a bit longer”

When the partner at the SAP consulting company reports their projected revenues out of the account to senior partners, one of the areas of discussion is what non-SAP software purchases are planned by the account. And whether they have the potential to cut into the consulting company’s billable hours (hint, they usually will) and how to prevent that sale from taking place.

And vendor that simply focuses on what its solutions have to offer, will lose far more frequently on accounts it deserved to win.

How We Make Money

We can be hired to perform specific sales intelligence work for vendors, but our primary source of information is advising software buyers. We rely on account executives and business development resources to spread our knowledge to software buyers.

We do not charge vendors, so aside from some very limited research items, it is free for you to use.

Next Steps

  • We have a wide variety of completed articles. I connected to you to both keep you updated on future shares on LinkedIn, but also to begin a dialog. So feel free to reach out to me for any questions.
  • If you face SAP in pursuits, you can reach out to me, and I can provide you with links to relevant articles and research that will help you win. We have a large database of articles on SAP from many different angles.
  • Under certain circumstances, we offer short question and answer conference call sessions with your prospect that you also participate.

Finally, if there are questions you still have, feel free to reach out.

How to Interpret SAP and Microsoft’s 2017 Cloud Partnership Announcement

What This Article Covers

  • Opening With The Standard Puffery
  • One Hundred and Eighty Degrees Different from Steve Lucas’s Comments on This Exact Issue in 2015
  • On Ariba
  • A Unique Partnership?
  • A Rather Extensive Section of Puffery
  • Surprise…….Big Companies Use SAP and Azure!
  • Paid Not to Notice the Change in the SAP’s Cloud Policy?


Recently we were asked about SAP and Microsoft’s cloud partnership announcement of November 27, 2017. (not to be confused with previous SAP and Microsoft’s cloud partnership announcements.

In this article, we will review the announcement and provide our analysis. We did not mean to do this when we began writing this article, but as part of the research, we came upon a Forbes article on this topic, which we will be lampooning. We did not expect this analysis to find such a rich vein of comedy, but that is the way things work out sometimes.

Opening With The Standard Puffery

Microsoft Corp. and SAP SE on Monday announced integrated offerings to provide enterprise customers with a clear roadmap to confidently drive more business innovation in the cloud. In a bold show of commitment, the two companies also announced they will be deploying each other’s cloud solutions internally.

So the first part of this paragraph is really throw away. Most announcements like this are often filled with gratuitous bragging on the part of the participants. The meat of this paragraph is the part about each company deploying each other’s solutions.

For Microsoft, this is a mistake. As we cover in our Study into SAP S/4HANA Implementations, S/4HANA has a had an enormous number of problems being taken live.

Will S/4HANA become a production system for Microsoft? Probably not. It may never become something that Microsoft relies upon. Microsoft can simply run S/4HANA as a test environment. No one is going to check if Microsoft is really using S/4HANA, but Microsoft may want to get version doing something so that they can use it for marketing purposes. Internally, the MS Dynamics team will most likely not appreciate this part of the announcement.

Now will SAP be deploying Microsoft’s Azure solutions internally? That would be curious if they did. But it may be to run some small portion of SAP. These are companies with enormous resources, they can afford to run each other’s products in a minor way if they like. But one should not simply take SAP and Microsoft’s word for it. They may simply be saying this to get a marketing boost.

The announcement says more thing on this point.

Additionally, Microsoft will deploy SAP S/4HANA® on Azure to help run its own internal finance processes, and SAP will move its key internal business critical systems to Azure.

This is a curious statement given that SAP had at one point said that it was going to beat AWS in hosting.

For example in 2015 Steve Lucas of SAP was reported in Diginomica had a very different perspective.

One Hundred and Eighty Degrees Different from Steve Lucas’s Comments on This Exact Issue in 2015

He took the opportunity to explain why he believes SAP is a better option for enterprise buyers than Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and AWS. But does it make sense in today’s world?

However, Lucas was also keen to highlight the benefits that owning Ariba’s network has on application design for S/4 and the fact that SAP has built out its own data centre infrastructure. Lucas said that SAP had no interest in building on the likes of Amazon Web Services (which the likes of Infor have done) because it doesn’t believe that this will cater to people’s data protection requirements. Lucas said:

We could have also said a long time ago that we were going to build this on AWS. It’s cheap. Why not? The reason why not is because of the healthcare laws and the data privacy laws, which are so different country by country. For us really we want to be able to deliver a consistent, safe and secure offering.

We built our own data centers for the HANA Cloud Platform, this is really important. The reason that we have not put the HANA Cloud Platform on something like AWS, is because AWS doesn’t adhere to all the global privacy laws where we operate. We actually own and operate our own data centers. That’s incredibly critical.- (Steve Lucas) Diginomica


Times have really changed in a short period of time!

In 2015 Steve Lucas thought that AWS was…

  1. Too insecure
  2. It lacked privacy
  3. He thought that SAP needed its own data centers.

Now SAP is promoting customers to place S/4HANA on Azure, which is no more secure or private or as much on SAP’s data center as is AWS. Actually, this is consistent with SAP’s announcement of the Multicloud which we covered in the following article How to Best Understand SAP’s Multicloud Announcement.

SAP did not move to promoting the use of SAP with AWS or Azure because it was or was not right for customers. They changed their policy because they failed to compete with Azure and AWS.

Hosting has been a long-term weakness of SAP, outside of the hosting offered by the companies that SAP acquired (liked SuccessFactors and Ariba) that were already in the cloud before SAP acquired them. This was explained best in Vinnie Mirchandani’s book SAP Nation 2.0.

Let us move back to the SAP Microsoft Announcement

On Ariba

Finally, SAP Ariba is currently utilizing Azure and is exploring further use within its procurement applications.

This is a long-term trend. Even Salesforce, the largest pure SaaS vendor, and a vendor that was well regarded for very competent hosting capabilities outsourced their hosting to AWS in 2016.

A Unique Partnership?

Through their unique partnership, the companies will co-engineer, go to market together with premier solutions and provide joint support services to ensure the best cloud experience for customers.

So this paragraph is really just fluff. It can be disregarded as it does not carry any information.

SAP HANA® Enterprise Cloud — SAP’s private managed cloud service — on Microsoft Azure will allow customers to run SAP S/4HANA in a secure, managed cloud.

Ok, but that is not particularly relevant. The reason for this is because SAP has extremely few cloud customers.

The reason is twofold.

  1. Installed Base: As mentioned earlier, S/4HANA is very lightly installed. The numbers provided by SAP (over 1000 live instances of S/4HANA) are highly exaggerated.
  2. Customization: S/4HANA requires customization to meet customer’s requirements (ECC was customized in 92% of cases). For this reason, S/4HANA cannot be multitenant. This is covered in the article Is S/4HANA Actually Designed for the Cloud?

This image is designed to allow your brain to rest, and to prepare you for an extensive section of puffery. Get up and get a drink if you like. 

A Rather Extensive Section of Puffery

Breeze through this next paragraph as it does not any actually contain content.

Together, SAP and Microsoft will help companies make the most of running SAP applications in the cloud. Bill McDermott and Satya Nadella sit next to each other on stools SAP CEO Bill McDermott (left) and Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft, double down on their commitment to partnership “As technology transforms every business and every industry, organizations are looking for the right platforms and trusted partners to help accelerate their digital transformation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Building on our longtime partnership, Microsoft and SAP are harnessing each other’s products to not only power our own organizations, but to empower our enterprise customers to run their most mission-critical applications and workloads with SAP S/4HANA on Azure.”
Enterprise companies are increasingly moving business-critical systems to the cloud for the benefits digital transformation provides: better customer relationships, more empowered employees, streamlined operations, new business models, and new products and services. According to research firm Gartner Inc., two-thirds of all business leaders believe that their companies must pick up the pace of digitalization to remain competitive.* As leaders in enterprise software, SAP and Microsoft are aligning closely to provide customers with the safe and trusted path to digital transformation.
“We are taking our partnership to the next level with this new capability to run SAP S/4HANA in the Microsoft Azure environment,” said SAP CEO Bill McDermott. “The world’s significant businesses trust Microsoft and SAP. Together, we will help companies win the customer-driven growth revolution.”

That is enough. As I said.

There was more, but I cut the quotation at this point.

Surprise…….Big Companies Use SAP and Azure!

Enterprise customers of all types, such as The Coca-Cola Company, Columbia Sportswear Company, Coats and Costco Wholesale Corp., count on SAP and Azure today for their businesses. “The strategic partnership announced between Microsoft and SAP is an extremely important development for the Coca-Cola System,” said Barry Simpson, senior vice president and chief information officer at The Coca-Cola Company. “The value of aligned engineering, sales, and delivery between these two strategic partners will allow our system to accelerate our digital agenda. This is a very positive and exciting development for us.

This is the social proof part of the announcement. There were several other companies listed, but you get the idea.

Paid Not to Notice the Change in the SAP’s Cloud Policy?

What might be the most interesting thing is that the about-face between SAP’s position in 2015 and their position in 2017 is so drastically different. Steve Lucas’ arguments in favor of not using a 3rd party for hosting did not make any sense when he said them or now. We have a full critique of Steve Lucas’ statements to Diginomica in the article The Problems with Diginomica on Steve Lucas on HANA, Oracle, IBM, AWS and Microsoft.

And that we were not able to find anyplace where it was mentioned that SAP pulled an about-face on this topic.

Forbes had some coverage of the partnership that was quite amusing. Here are a few quotes from Forbes.

(the partnership) It directly involves the high-profile CEOs of each company: Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and SAP’s Bill McDermott, and it extends—signficantly and dramatically—the long-time alliance that’s existed between the two software powerhouses.

It’s not just some deep-tech code alignment but an end-to-end partnership: Microsoft and SAP say they will “co-engineer” new products and services, “go to market together with premier solutions, and provide joint support services.”

Against that backdrop, here’s what some world-class customers had to say about the benefits they’ll gain from the deep cloud collaboration between SAP and Microsoft.

So: amid the saber-rattling and bombast and blunt-force competition that have been the hallmark of the Cloud Wars, it’s quite compelling to see two of the world’s leading enterprise-software and cloud-computing companies embrace the opportunity to collaborate deeply and broadly for the benefit of some very, very happy customers.

It’s just too funny! This is obviously a paid placement on the part of SAP or Microsoft or both. The level of analysis provided by Forbes is nill. The author could not care less if anything they are writing is true.

And that ladies and gentlemen is how you make the big money in the media business.


As is normally the case, the money in both media and consulting comes from repeating what SAP says to you.

The compliant nature of the coverage of things like the SAP and Microsoft announcement demonstrates that when SAP and Microsoft have their marketing departments craft such announcements that they know that the media entities they pay to cover these types of things will report it almost word for word.

Overall, the announcement most likely does not amount much. But it is a further reinforcement that SAP is no longer trying to fight the powerful trend of specialized IaaS and PaaS vendors.


SAP’s Steve Lucas on why HANA beats Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and AWS



What Information Sources Does SAP Consider Credible?

 What This Article Covers

  • Background on IT Media
  • Picked Up in the Mainstream IT Media
  • Independent Sources on SAP?


This article will explain how SAP determines which information sources are credible for its customers and prospects to listen to.

Background on IT Media

Recently I was told by a contact that IT members in SAP shops has been saying that the information provided by Brightwork should not be listened to because we had an “ax to grind.” We covered this topic in depth in the article Do Shaun Snapp and Brightwork Have an Axe to Grind?

But this leads to a broader topic which is what sources of information do SAP consider credible if obviously, Brightwork does not meet SAP’s “exacting” standards. We expose a lot of tricks and underhanded things that SAP does and prepares everyone from SAP customers and software vendors to defend themselves against SAP, so our work is simply not up to par.

Picked Up in the Mainstream IT Media

This goes to why most of our material is not picked up by the mainstream IT press. For example, one company reached out to us and asked why the article The Real Reason for Under Armour’s Problems with S/4HANA.

SAP funds nearly every media outlet in IT. They report some controversies in SAP, but they do so within very narrow boundaries so as not to offend SAP.

When this company asked why no IT outlet had picked up the Under Armour article, I think we have our answer. Major IT outlets want quotes from sources that limit their criticism within narrow boundaries so that when they publish the article, they do not incur the wrath of SAP, which is reportedly a very strong use of intimidation.

Independent Sources on SAP?

We have analyzed this topic extensively and found there are almost no independent sources on SAP. Everyone seems to lead back to SAP either through direct payment, partnership, etc..

This type of discussion is already well explained by a media critic called Noam Chomsky.

They will use ad hominems rather than addressing the actual points. The more they have to address the points, the worse it is for them. And who is credible according to SAP?

Deloitte, Accenture, ComputerWeekly, Diginomica, Forbes, Fortune — that is everyone they pay. The outlets they pay are credible, the outlets they don’t “lack credibility.”

How SAP’s Partnership Agreement Blocks Vendors from Fighting Indirect Access

 What This Article Covers

  • Understanding the Partnership System
  • Consulting Partners Versus Software Partners
  • The Real Story on SAP and Software Partnership
  • Silencing Software Vendors
  • SAP Partnership Agreements as Anti Competitive Tools
  • Is SAP Only Able to Control Smaller Software Vendors?
  • Loss of Freedom of Speech on SAP and Indirect Access
  • Praising Stalin?
  • Hiding Indirect Access Issues from Customers
  • Keeping the Criticism Narrow!
  • Ordinary Bias — as in a Preference Based on Experience or a Financial Bias?


At Brightwork we have written quite a few articles on SAP implementation of Type 2 indirect access.

In this article, we will cover the topic of how constrained software vendors that are both official SAP partners as well as victims of SAP’s indirect access campaign due to their partnership agreement with SAP.

Understanding the Partnership System

We are probably the only media or research entity to have published on how the SAP partnership program works in reality versus the standard explanation of how it works. The SAP partnership program is presented as a happy co-agreement between other software vendors and SAP which is designed to help best serve customers. This is a completely inaccurate explanation of what the partnership agreement actually is. But before we get into that topic, let us point out an important point of distinction so as not to lump in consulting partners with software partners.

Consulting Partners Versus Software Partners

Consulting partners have very different incentives and a very different relationship with SAP than software partners. For this article, we will be focusing on SAP’s software partners. SAP does not treat its consulting partners how they treat their software partners, and the consulting partner relationship is far more mutually beneficial. (although not for customers — which is a different topic area) Software partnership with SAP is a particular subcategory of being an SAP partner.

The Real Story on SAP and Software Partnership

Sometimes the partnerships are called the “SAP community.” The one question that is never asked is why the SAP software community even exists. This is because if we think it through, in a normal competitive software market, there would be no necessity for a system where vendors receive approval and certification from SAP. Remember, any system can be connected to any other system. There is no need for the larger vendor to approve integration to its applications from other vendors.

Indeed, SAP is not a normal or ecosystem.

A major strategy of SAP has been to tell its customers that integration to SAP is extremely difficult. (this is something that also repeated by SAP’s consulting partners) This means that many customers that already own SAP will often not purchase software from another vendor unless that vendor is a certified provider. This is the trick that gives SAP so much power over its vendors. The requirement for certification is a racket. A racket is the premeditated creation of a problem from which the entity creating the scenario then offers the solution. The conundrum is the problems integrating to SAP. The solution is SAP’s “certification.” This is a certification which is meaningless technically. SAP’s blessing or certification does not mean that the adapter between SAP and the other vendor’s application actually does much more than pass a single field between the systems. The entire software certification offered by SAP is a formality into which SAP invests the absolute minimal effort.

The vital component of partnership for SAP is to get the partner to sign its partnership agreement.

The Partnership Contract

SAP offers a partnership contract to their prospective software partner. This contract limits what the partner software vendor can say about SAP. SAP enforces the control of the partnership contract through the threats of removing the vendor’s partnership status. The details of this are covered in the article the Control on Display within SAP’s Partnership Agreement.

This leads to the problem with vendors being silent, even as they are victimized by SAP on indirect access. There are other topics as well that relate to how through partnership, SAP can get vendors to alter their marketing vis-a-vis SAP. SAP demands that the partner vendors describe their applications as complementary to SAP’s applications rather than competitive (even though in almost all case the applications are competitive and not complimentary) SAP is highly effective in getting SAP partner vendors to market against their strengths. SAP’s partnership management group is highly effective at manipulating software vendors to work in their own worst interests.

Silencing Software Vendors

As I have pointed out on several previous occasions, the US has been backsliding on much of the regulation that it had at one time. This has been true for both parties, although accelerates more under Republican control because Republicans are opposed to almost any regulation of companies. This has left the US economy as essentially a jungle, with the largest companies being able to use power against smaller companies. Over the past several decades companies have concentrated power as elite institutions like the University of Chicago, and Harvard among others have worked aggressively to undermine antitrust laws.

SAP Partnership Agreements as Anti Competitive Tools

The SAP partnership program is highly deceptive. It not only allows SAP to exert control over software vendors, but it deceives customers into believing that they are receiving something of value in return for the certification. Again, SAP invests the minimal effort into validating any adapters created by vendors. It creates another problem which is that SAP is not required to certify any one particular vendor or any one vendor’s product.

For example, Oracle’s database had a long history of being quickly certified for R/3 or ECC. Then as soon as SAP developed a competitive database in HANA, Oracle could no longer get its database certified for the new version of SAP’s ERP system S/4HANA. This is quite curious, as in our research we have found no evidence that HANA is superior in any way to Oracle 12c or IBM Blu as is covered in the article What is SAP HANA’s Actual Performance?

In fact, the most likely explanation is that SAP refuses to certify Oracle, IBM or Microsoft for entirely commercial reasons, as is covered in the article SAP HANA Used to Block Out Other DB Vendors.

Thus, we call into question whether the SAP partnership agreement is merely an anticompetitive mechanism, as well as being a speech limiting device. The outcome is that concerning SAP, the software partner gives up its 1st amendment rights (on the topic of SAP that is) as an independent entity.

These are serious claims indeed. But a question might arise do we see vendors who are SAP partners being unwilling to publish information that shows them being better than the SAP applications and databases that they are competing against? Indeed this is what we find. Either on vendor websites or in the IT media, SAP software partners are very careful to not challenge SAP. SAP makes partner do ridiculous things like including the trademark symbol when mentioning SAP.

Is SAP Only Able to Control Smaller Software Vendors?

No, it is not simply smaller software vendors that SAP has this power over.

As an example for years, SAP has been releasing false information on HANA. Every item promoted by SAP regarding HANA has been extensively analyzed by Brightwork. We have found all of their claims except for one (which is that HANA can perform better for analytics, but what is untrue that it can outperform competitive databases even in this area) to be inaccurate. (for details on this research, see my LinkedIn article listing, or reach out to me).

And IBM and Oracle, vendors who make the primary databases that compete with HANA have been throttled from saying very much that would contradict SAP’s false claims. However, IBM’s consulting practice makes a great deal of money on SAP consulting, and Oracle has other financial benefits of being a partner with SAP, so leaving the SAP partnership is not a feasible option, so they restrict their critique of HANA.

However, these claims are known to be false within both IBM and Oracle. I published an article a little while ago about how IBM finally began to contradict some of SAP HANA’s claims although within a restricted area of criticism in the article IBM Finally Begins to Fight Back.

That is the power of SAP’s and SAP’s partnership agreement. That is how far down the rabbit hole goes.

Loss of Freedom of Speech on SAP and Indirect Access

Very few software vendors have said much publicly on indirect access. However, recently one software vendors has done this. This is only one vendor out of hundreds that are negatively impacted by SAP.

The vendor that is doing this is taking a chance by doing it, but this vendor has been careful to only focus on indirect access while otherwise praising SAP and the overall SAP community. The story the vendor presents about SAP (outside of indirect access) is fairytale where SAP never behaved in a manner abusive of its power before, until it began enforcing indirect access against SAP customers. It leaves out SAP’s overall history and focuses only on the area of abuse that affects this vendor individually, that is indirect access.

This vendor even stated.

“where would we be without SAP?”

After a careful examination of this vendor’s media output on indirect access, it appears this is because the vendor has the partnership with SAP as a limitation on their criticism. Plus the other areas of SAP’s abuse don’t affect them, so why point them out?

That is, they are restricted from freedom of speech by SAP, but are acting as if they aren’t.

Praising Stalin?

While often cursing SAP in private one on one conversations with me, vendors that are SAP partners perform a quick about-face when discussing anything publicly.

In public, they demonstrate fealty to SAP; they support incorrect assertions made by SAP. This shows the degree of control that SAP marketing exerts over these vendors. They, in essence, have a type of Stockholm Syndrome, at least in public statements.

It is difficult to forget this photo with Saddam Hussian from the first Gulf War. This is similar to how vendors react when faced with being put in a position to contradict SAP.

It is important to keep up appearances.

Through recent research, we have correlated a number of statements made by both SAP consultants and SAP vendors that show a pattern to another historical antecedent.

“Everybody had to praise Stalin, all the time. Newspapers credited him with every success. Poets thanked him for bringing the harvest. People leaped to their feet to applaud every time his name was mentioned. His picture was everywhere parents taught their children to love Stalin more than themselves. They dared not do anything else.” – BBC

To anyone who has listened to declarations of how “innovative” SAP is, this should sound familiar. SAP is credited with many things that it has never done and values it never embodied, and not only by its marketing department but also by outside entities.

This is not because it is true, but because of the following reasons:

  1. The entity is either paid by SAP (as in the case of ComputerWeekly, Forbes, etc..)
  2. Because the entity made a great deal of money from SAP (Deloitte, Accenture, independent SAP consultants)
  3. Because the entity fears SAP (and or has some type of partnership agreement with SAP).

I could provide many examples, but many platitudes commonly offered about SAP are false. They are regularly repeated, often by people who have never researched them and are simply repeating things they heard from someplace. If we look at SAP consultancies, they not only repeat false platitudes about SAP to their clients, but they actively try to keep indirect access as quiet as possible.


Hiding Indirect Access Issues from Customers

Talking about indirect access is bad for their business, and their business is billing hours for SAP consultants at the highest possible margins.

On several companies where SAP was not yet installed, but SAP was being analyzed as a new purchase, I learned that the prospect found out about the indirect access and SAP from the competing vendor. That is not from the consulting company that was advising them (and that wanted them to select SAP). This is a concerted effort by SAP consulting companies to do this and another reason why SAP consulting companies act more as sales arms of SAP than as independent advisors to their “clients.”

The entire system acts as giant echo chamber as SAP consulting companies repeat pro-SAP statements, paid off IT media and IT analysts repeat pro-SAP statements, and now through partnership agreements, even competing vendors repeat pro-SAP statements.

People who do not have the time to engage in research projects and do not study these statements in detail are quite likely to assume that since there appears to be a consensus, these statements must be true. And that, of course, is the point.

Occasionally a point is made in a different subject matter area that applies so perfectly to the present subject area that it would be a loss to leave it out.

The following is a quotation from the progressive economist Richard Wolff.

We are a country that questions the systems of our society. We debate our school system, we debate our transportation system, why we even got off the last couple of years debating things like health insurance and what marriage is.

But when it comes to capitalism there is no debate. Look at the records of the US Congress for 50 years. Try to find a debate about the strengths and weaknesses of capitalism. You won’t find it. We treat capitalism as beyond debate. You can’t ask the obvious questions like what are its strengths and what are its weaknesses.

And like any system sprared debate, it becomes possible for it to indulge its worst tendencies. We strengthen a society by debating its systems. We don’t do ourselves any favor by exempting capitalism. – Richard Wolff

It would seem that if the term “capitalism” were removed and replace with “SAP” in each instance in the quotation above, the paragraphs would be equally true.

We know that Stalin would create fake history, where Stalin was exalted in some way, and his accomplishments exaggerated. SAP does the same thing. SAP is the only vendor we are aware of that created a wholly fabricated explanation for how a product was developed to exaggerate the accomplishments of their co-founder. That is the false storyline that Hasso Plattner invented HANA. This is covered in the article Did Hasso Plattner and PhDs Invent HANA?

Media entities paid by SAP repeated this story ad nauseam, without ever checking if it was true. This story is important because it shows that SAP’s statements about Hasso and HANA are not only impossible but that they were a clearly premeditated attempt to create a false history. And furthermore, this worked.


Let us review what has been laid out in this article.

  1. The vast majority of software vendors are silent on indirect access, which helps SAP normalize type 2 indirect access through its control of IT media and consulting companies, and false fronts like ASUG (the SAP User Group).
  2. The fact that a software vendor is fighting back publicly against SAP is a good thing, but one cannot drive to a truthful conclusion by hiding details about SAP because they do not happen to serve your particular cause. When an entity challenges SAP, but then hides details or alters other details to keep from fully challenging them, (because they have a pre-existing partnership agreement), this is self-censoring.

Keeping the Criticism Narrow!

The IT media entity that is paid by SAP (which is nearly all of IT media) is much more willing to pickup quotations from another entity that restricts criticism to a very narrow range because they are looking not to offend their sponsor.

In this case, both the IT media entity, as well as the software vendor, hide their bias from the reader, while in the vast majority of cases the reader believes they are getting information from unbiased sources.

Interestingly, just about every entity that serves as an information source on SAP turns out to have some identifiable financial bias or partnership agreement with SAP. When I articulated this connection, I am often told that

“everyone has a bias, “

and that

“informed readers can discern the difference.”

This is quite curious because this does not seem to be the case. These supposedly “informed readers” are routinely tricked by financially biased stories by SAP. How is a reader of Forbes to know that most of the articles that Forbes writes about SAP are paid placements? That is the article was paid for SAP but is not declared as an advertisement. How should the reader figure that out exactly?

These responses are merely excuses used to defend bias and the dishonest presentation of information. This should be indefensible and is used by a person or entity who themselves have this easily traceable bias. In fact, every single person who has used this argument has turned out to have their own financial connection back to SAP.

People that don’t have such a connection do not use this argument with me.

Ordinary Bias — as in a Preference Based on Experience or a Financial Bias?

The use of the phrase..

“everyone has a bias.”

..is an attempt to conflate the normal biases that a person or entity has regarding life experience, professional experience or generalized views, with specific, traceable financial bias. No one is saying that people do not have a right to like chocolate ice cream. That is not a bias, that is a preference. The issue is if someone is being paid to promote chocolate ice cream then they have a financial bias. The question being would that person promote chocolate ice cream and promote it so aggressively if they were not paid to do so.

I don’t even waste time analyzing people’s other biases.


Because economic bias already provides all the information that necessary to understand why people misrepresent and self-censor.

This is the problem with what the partnership agreements and what they do to the ability of software vendors to fight back against SAP or to even tell the truth about SAP’s history.

A Case Study on Quality Problems of the SAP System of Information

I phrase this as the SAP system of information because it includes all information that comes to people. The advice offered to customers on-site by consulting companies, IT media, IT analysts, vendor publishing, etc..

In an overall sense, the SAP system of information has demonstrated its profound weakness on the topic of indirect access. Indirect access is a critical case study of the entities that provide information on SAP.

It demonstrates clearly that even when SAP is 100% in the wrong, that those that provide information on SAP will be extremely reticent to call SAP out.

This has allowed SAP to normalize what is a ridiculous proposal by SAP.





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