How Scott Bickley Engaged in Mosaic Plagiarism from Brightwork on SAP HANA?
Last Updated on April 21, 2023 by Shaun Snapp
- I was approached by an employee of Info-Tech Research Group who wanted to discuss Brightwork’s research.
- Right after, this person published articles using Brightwork’s insights, but without attribution.
I began to notice that companies that present information to their clients have been approaching my research entity, Brightwork Research & Analysis, do not use references. We covered this problem in the article How Common is Research & IP Theft in IT?
See our references for this article and related articles at this link.
Here is a specific example.
Scott Bickley’s 2019 Email to Me
Info-Tech is a research entity. Scott Bickley, at the time he reached out, was a Principle Research Advisor. Scott sent this email on June 26th after I had a discussion with him.
It was awesome meeting you today and getting acquainted! Please feel free to use me a source for your ongoing work and research, and hopefully I can do the same. My cell number is (removed). Let’s be sure to keep in touch. I’ll send you a line in between calls if I uncover any interesting developments in the SAP space. Also, feel free to reach out to discuss Oracle as you delve into that world as well.
Scott Bickley, CSAM, CMAM, CSM |Principal Research Advisor – Contract Review/VMO/Licensing | Info-Tech Research Group
At this time, Scott had stated his intent on having a chat with me was to see if Brightwork Research & Analysis could be used to support Info-Tech Research Group for accounts that they had.
This came up during the call, and you can see me pointing to this in my response on July 28th of 2019.
Sounds good Scott. I went out and checked out your website. It was evident that you must have a bunch of SAP accounts that need some deep dives on occasion. BTW, I will be sharing this Oracle article this Sunday.
This was how Scott gained access — by promoting this idea of a potential commercial benefit to Brightwork Research & Analysis. This is clear evidence that Scott was aware of Brightwork Research & Analysis and had thought enough of the research to reach out.
As I will show, Scott then wrote several articles that I can show clearly leveraged Brightwork Research & Analysis article, for which Scott included no references to the Brightwork Research & Analysis website or material.
Scott never did revert back regarding any billable work or otherwise bringing in Brightwork Research & Analysis into any opportunity, and I mostly forgot about the interaction.
However, over a year later on August 12th of 2020, I found articles published by Scott both on Info-Tech and at Software Reviews, that looked very suspiciously like many of the observations had been lifted from Brightwork Research & Analysis but without reference to Brightwork Research & Analysis.
Furthermore, the shortage of sources overall in Scott Bickley’s work illustrates the impossibility of Scott having derived this information from his own personal experience (and thus requiring no sources).
The more I analyzed Scott’s writing; I found that he had applied the same mosaic plagiarism approach of Brightwork’s material to multiple SAP topics. I can show where Scott plagiarized the work of Brightwork, and this article only covers one of his articles.
Analyzing the Mosaic Plagiarism in Scott’s Articles
There are numerous types of plagiarism. I had previously thought that there was just direct copy uncredited plagiarism, but it turns out that it is only one form. Upon reading the different plagiarism types, I settled on mosaic plagiarism for what Scott had done.
Mosaic plagiarism is when..
You may use another person’s words, ideas, or information, but to do so without acknowledgment is plagiarism. Perhaps the most serious form of plagiarism is failure to acknowledge the source of a direct quotation or paraphrase. Whether accidental or deliberate, failure to acknowledge that you have borrowed another’s language, ideas, or information constitutes plagiarism. – Bowdoin College
Let us review how this was performed by comparing Scott’s article, and lack of sourcing to Brightwork, to both Brightwork’s articles and to the other sources where Scott could have claimed to have obtained this information.
The first is from the article SAP S/4HANA and HANA Licensing Series – Part II: HANA DB Hype? which was published on the Info-Tech website on April 16, 2019. Notice this is 2.5 months before he reached out to me.
However, it is common for people to read material for some time before reaching out.
Mosaic Plagiarism Item #1: A Lack of Objective Benchmarks on HANA?
Let us review quotes from his article.
HANA is SAP’s first serious entry into the database market segment. HANA is touted as being superior in performance when working with SAP applications vs. alternate database solutions, but objective benchmarks are lacking. Additionally, the adoption of S/4HANA necessitates adoption of the HANA DB as it is the only certified solution for S/4HANA ERP.
This quote is curious because, at this point, there were few articles written about SAP proving its claims with benchmarks. In fact, even today, there are few articles that question SAP on their exaggerated claims about HANA.
Brightwork covered this topic in detail in the article The Four Hidden Issues with SAP’s BW-EML Benchmark, published on Feb 28th of 2019, the article How Accurate Was John Appleby on SAP BW-EML Benchmark? also published on Feb 28th of 2019, and The Hidden Issue with the SD HANA Benchmark published on Feb 29th of 2019. This article What is the Actual HANA Performance? published on October 14th, 2016, questions the performance claims, but without referring to the benchmarks.
This was not a published topic, yet Brightwork covered this extensively, and even though Scott Bickley was reading Brightwork material at the time, and even though Scott lacks the background in this area. Scott has never worked on IT projects or is an IT resource, and these benchmarks are little known or understood even in the SAP space, Scott was comfortable talking about this topic. He did so without reference, not only to Brightwork but to any source.
Mosaic Plagiarism Item #2: The SAP BW-EML Benchmark
He goes on to write.
SAP’s current lack of transparency into transactional system benchmarking has me looking deeper into how they do benchmark HANA. Of initial interest is that the only benchmark for HANA published by SAP is the BWAML (previously BW-EML) which are related to the BW application. Fitting that the benchmark published matches the strengths of a columnar database, especially in light of the fact that no benchmarks are published for any of the applications running on databases:
Again, how did Scott become aware of these benchmarks and more importantly that SAP’s claims around the benchmarks might not be true?
He points out to SAP using the following screenshot.
But that source would not tell you much. It is SAP’s benchmark page, but the conclusion Scott comes to is the exact opposite of that proposed by SAP.
It would be impossible for Scott to claim that he did not search Google when looking deeper into what he describes as “how they do benchmarking.”
Notice what Scott would have seen when he searched in Google for the terms “SAP HANA benchmarking.”
Yet again, article five and six on this topic are both Brightwork articles. And again, as the first four articles are written by SAP, Scott could not have learned what he wrote from reading SAP’s articles as they support the idea that SAP’s benchmarks are reliable.
However, Scott’s “conclusions” are laid out specifically and in great detail in both of the Brightwork articles that are returned on the first page of the Google Search results.
- Is it Scott’s contention that he did not read these articles?
- If Scott never read any Brightwork articles, why did he reach out to discuss, and state that he was a fan of the research?
- If the obtained information that he used in his article, why is there no reference to Brightwork as a source?
Furthermore, it is important to contemplate how I came upon this information.
In order to find this information, I had to work my extensive SAP network built up over thirteen years of writing on SAP. This issue was brought to me by a contact. The issue was known in various vendors, but they chose not to publish much on the topic due to their relationship with SAP.
Notice the following article by Oracle that questions SAP’s performance claims around HANA.
Scott could have learned of Oracle’s claim from this Oracle article published in 2015. Oracle claims that their database performs better than SAP’s. However, Oracle is no more reliable a source than SAP. In our Honest Vendor Ratings, we rated SAP and Oracle as the two most dishonest vendors in enterprise software.
The Oracle article is written at a very high level. And this brings up some obvious questions.
- Why would Scott take the word of Oracle, a competitor to SAP?
- Scott’s article does not pattern after this Oracle article — because the article claims that Oracle is significantly faster than SAP. Instead, Scott’s conclusions are identical to unique and previously published conclusions from Brightwork.
- Even if this is Scott’s source, why is there no reference to this article?
Scott’s phrasing and conclusion are far closer, nearly identical in fact, to the phrasing in the Brightwork articles than this article or any other article on the topic.
Notice the following quote from Scott.
SAP’s ecosystem of consulting partners is legendary in size and scale; they essentially operate as an extension of SAP and frequently recommend SAP solutions to their client. This clearly allows SAP to exert significant control on the types of information, benchmark and otherwise, that may reflect poorly on SAP.
Yes, this is the exact observation I made in my articles on the topic.
And again, if this observation were commonplace or on multiple websites that would be one thing, but this is a very rarely made observation that is not readily available from other sites that cover this topic. Vinnie Mirchandani refers to the scope of the SAP ecosystem in his books SAP Nation and SAP Nation 2.0, but having read both books, I don’t recall him writing that SAP controls and censors their ecosystem partners (which SAP does in fact do).
Why are unique observations that I have made being parrotted on the Info-Tech Resource and Software Advice websites?
I covered in the article The Problems with the Strange Lenovo HANA Benchmark, written on March 13th of 2019, how Lenovo clearly rigged the benchmark to hide HANA’s poop performance. Lenovo is, of course, an SAP partner. This was done by hiding the results of HANA calling them a secret. It is right there in the document. I know the real results because I know someone that was on the project. Did Scott know someone on this came project?
Once again, I did not find this benchmark. It was forwarded to me by a contact. And no one else published an article on how this benchmark was rigged.
In addition to having an example provided of where it was done, and again Scott came up with this observation by himself? That is highly improbable.
Mosaic Plagiarism Item #3: The Issue of Infocubes and HANA
This quote from Scott is very interesting also regarding something quite specific with the SAP benchmarks.
Presumably with a columnar database the need for BW Info-Cubes is eliminated. Why then would SAP run a HANA DB benchmark predicated on Info-Cubes, which are a set of devices purpose built to perform best upon a row-oriented DB? Most organizations have a lot of overhead and refinement built into their Info-Cubes and may not be ready to throw all that work aside quite yet.
Where did Scott get this idea? He states he is a nontechnical analysis, yet this is a technical observation.
It is very easy to guess where. In the article, The Hidden Issue with the SD HANA Benchmark I published on Feb 29th of 2019, I wrote the following about what I referred to as Hidden Issue #3.
See if you can observe any similarity to what Scott wrote.
Hidden Issue #3: Why Are InfoCubes Still Being Used for A Database with Column Oriented Capabilities?
I have been working on SAP DP projects for over a decade. DP uses the same data administration area as does BW. Except DP runs forecasting and has a forecasting front end on top of the data backend. HANA is supposed to eliminate the need for cubes, as cubes are aggregation devices use for performance-based upon a row-oriented DB.
But in the BW-EML benchmark, cubes are still used, as we can see from the quote above.
Because companies don’t want to decompose the cubes they already built for the pre-column oriented design? Quite possibly yes, as companies will still be using the cubes, they created for many years. Much of BW is made obsolete by putting it on top of a column-oriented design capable DB. (emphasis added)
Nowhere in any of the BW-EML benchmark does it point out that a primary benefit of a column-oriented design the obsolescence of cubes.
Doesn’t Scott’s quote sound like a higher level paraphrase of this exact quote?
This is the only other reference I can find to someone pointing this out.
How would someone with Scott’s background allow him to know this and come to this conclusion?
Is Scott’s position that he did not read the Brightwork article that laid this out for him?
He found no reason to state that Brightwork had already come to this conclusion, no reason to state that Brightwork had published on the topic, and the concept had to be presented as an entirely original thought by Scott to which there was no reference?
Mosaic Plagiarism Item #4: The Issue of Performance of HANA for Transaction Processing
Scott uses a single source in his entire article, and it is a generic source on the difference between columnar and row-based databases that do not refer to SAP.
It didn’t take a lot ofdigging, even for a non-technical analyst in the Vendor Practice such as myself, to uncover significant performance characteristics between a columnar database and a row-oriented database. HANA is a columnar database. In short, columnar databases generally provide performance gains when used for analytics based processing tasks such as those conducted in a data warehouse environment. Whereas row-oriented databases will perform at a higher level when used for the processing of transactional data.
Since ERP systems are first and foremost transactional systems, it would be reasonable to question SAP’s claims that HANA will outperform competitor database products. In these cases, an objective set of benchmarks should set the record straight in quick order.
It is very suspicious that Scott would include a reference to this particular source. The reason is that this particular source only discusses the distinction between a row and columnar or column-oriented databases generally, and not specifically to SAP. Why would Scott choose a more obscure source on the general topic rather than the source that describes the specific issue related to SAP? One obvious reason is that the source, columnardatabase.com is not a competitor of Info Tech Research. And they don’t cover the exact issue with HANA convered by Scott. Therefore there is no cost to referring to columnardatabase.com.
Again we covered this specific topic and laid it out, which Scott would have to have read, in the article Why HANA Has Problems with Transaction Processing published on March 24th of 2019.
At this time, there was very little written on HANA’s issues with transaction processing (as there is today). Most of the industry had accepted SAP’s claims that their columnar database was better for both types of processing. Brightwork was either the first or one of the first to call into question this claim.
Let us review again, precisely what Scott would have found when he searched Google for this topic.
Notice that when one types in “HANA and transaction processing,” Brightwork’s article is the third article that comes up in a Google search.
Furthermore, the Brightwork article is the only source that points out this problem. All of the other articles promote the opposite view and the SAP view that HANA is good at transaction processing.
- Again, Scott did not see or read this article?
- What reason would he have for not reading the article?
- How many times did Scott come to a conclusion for which he did not have the background, that was identical to those explained by Brightwork, that were directly available to him through Google searches?
Why It Was Important that Scott Not Include a Single Reference to Brightwork Research & Analysis
The reason for never referencing Brightwork by included a link or reference to Brightwork’s website is it would have become immediately apparent to anyone who followed the link that these were not his ideas or his research. T
hrough the entirety of not just this article but at least four other articles by Scott on SAP, he presents every one of the ideas lifted from the Brightwork website as his own. Scott was aggressive in never crediting Brightwork for any contribution to his thinking or conclusions.
The Inevitability of Relying on Sources
When I produce research, I have a large number of references at the end of articles. It takes very little to be included as a source in my articles. Even if I don’t directly quote the article, if I read it, and it informs my view, then include a link. But of course, I am not plagiarizing the work of others and presenting it as my own. I do not fear including links, because I habitually produce original work. Furthermore, even with over 20 years of working on SAP projects, there is still a large area of SAP for which I do not have first-hand experience. Even shorter pieces will tend to have one or two references.
So the question should be asked. How are these articles by Scott, an analyst with no SAP experience to draw upon, are being written with only one reference per article?
Scott Bickley might as well have taken a copy machine to the Brightwork website.
There is not a single reference to Brightwork Research & Analysis, even though the exact insights we raised, and which Scott used would have not come available to him through the first page of Google searches. It almost looks like I wrote the articles at Info-Tech Research and Software Reviews.
This actually moves even beyond plagiarism into a type of impersonation.
All of this was designed to get people to reach out to Info-Tech for research advisement — which would have resulted in Scott going back to the Brightwork website. There are at least eight Brightwork articles in this one article I analyzed in this article that has been used by Scott to create his article. Scott very carefully stip mined the Brightwork website without using a single reference to the site. How can the claim of mosaic plagiarism even be defended with this many unreferenced conclusions?
It is impossible for me to believe this is an isolated case. As I said, at least four of Scott’s other articles on SAP follow the same pattern.
These articles include the following:
And if Scott did this to my research, it is likely that this is simply the modality that Scott follows — and that he has other mosaic plagiarized work that he is submitting to Info-Tech and Software Advice. Scott is a talented writer — but one of his strong abilities is weaving together multiple sources — which unfortunately he is not crediting. Under this approach, he is essentially presenting himself as a polymath genius — because there is virtually no attribution to anyone else’s IP.
Interacting with Scott After I Caught the Plagiarism
I reached out to Scott to inform him that I had caught him aggressively plagiarizing my work, and he asked me “what I wanted,” which told me there that he could not have cared less. He then told me he wanted me to get in touch with Info-Tech Research’s legal department. This was his attempt to hide behind Info-Tech Research’s legal skirt. However, I have no reason to believe that anyone at Info-Tech Research had any knowledge of what Scott was doing.
What interests me know is after Info-Tech Research has had time to digest this and review the analysis for themselves, what is Info-Tech Research going to do? This work which has been grafted from the Brightwork website has been sitting out there for roughly a year. The only reason I did not find it earlier, is that these articles do not rank very high in Google. I now have to regard any researcher reaching out to me with great suspicion. This issue of what I call skimming research is a big problem.
My Approach to Addressing This Issue
I am making a serious accusation, and I would not do so unless I had the evidence. As any writer or researcher would know, it is entirely obvious to you when your material has been lifted. This is my area of expertise, and I am not only aware of all of my writing, by other writing on this topic. Part of what we do at Brightwork is media and analyst criticism. So that means analyzing the writing of other entities, what is their financial bias, what type of material they are willing to publish, etc.. This means I know what material is available to those doing research in the space, what information is public, and what information is private.
Right now, this article and any future articles where I perform a similar analysis of Scott’s SAP articles are being kept private. This is, at this point, between Brightwork, Info-Tech, and Software Advice. This is why I have this article currently password-protected.
I could go through and perform the same analysis for each article, and the results will be the same for the SAP articles I have identified. In one of the articles, Scott makes a claim — which is a claim I made that Brightwork was the only entity to publish a prediction of the cancellation of an SAP 2025 support deadline and to be right (as I cover in the article SAP Reverses its Cynical 2025 ECC Support Deadline). This means Scott is even copying my statements regarding predicting outcomes of what will happen to SAP.