Is VentureBeat Really Independent Journalism?

Executive Summary

  • VentureBeat is a top-rated site that covers the venture capital area and the companies that are funded by VCs.
  • VentureBeat claims to be independent journalism, but is it?

Introduction

We ran into VentureBeat when analyzing a separate story. The articles we read at VentureBeat seemed to repeat claims made by the entity they were covering and noticed that a large amount of information published in the article was false. That is the information is taking the word of people who are known to be promoting their companies without the slightest effort on the part of VentureBeat to verify anything they are being told. Secondly, VentureBeat is a very popular outlet in the venture/VC industry. No doubt many people get their information about the industry from this website.

We will begin by analyzing one of their stories in this article.

VentureBeat Covers Scoutbee

The article begins as follows:

Procuring parts and settling on suppliers are two of the most challenging undertakings in supply chain management, it’s safe to say. Companies aren’t always transparent about their networks and capacities, and short of conducting exhaustive searches and validating each candidate individually, the solutions are few and far between.

That’s why, in 2015, four German entrepreneurs — Christian Heinrich, Fabian Heinrich, Gregor Stühler, and Lee Galbraith — founded Scoutbee, which develops and sells access to a uniquely AI-driven supplier discovery platform. They’ve caught the attention of investors, evidently — Scoutbee today announced that it’s raised $12 million in series A funding contributed by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, 42Cap, and Toba Capital, bringing its total raised to $15.5 million.

This makes a case for AI in supplier management and then describing the amount raised for Soutbee.

Repeating What the Company Says

Notice how every sentence is essentially written by the company, not by VentureBeat. When “the company says” is used, in reviewing many articles, I was never able to find a time where VentureBeat provided a contradiction to the statement.

See the following quote.

The company says the bulk of the fresh funds will be put toward customer acquisition in the U.S. and Europe, as well as further development of its AI-powered apps.

“This investment fuels our focus of growing our customer base and operations on two continents,” said Galbraith, Scoutbee’s managing director. “The reception from procurement executives in the U.S. has matched what we’ve seen in Europe — leaders want to see deeper supplier insights, perform strategic scouting faster and profit from faster time to market and innovation. Here in the U.S. where manufacturers are scrambling to respond to imposed tariffs, we can help purchasing leaders evaluate suppliers with speed and precision to remain competitive.”

There is no comment from the author of this article. Scoutbee has provided everything up to this point.

This is undifferentiated from a press release.

Scoutbee’s Central Product

Scoutbee’s suite — which is underpinned by Artemis, the company’s AI engine — can benchmark existing suppliers from their sourcing behavior with the competition, and find new products and suppliers efficiently thanks to a streamlined catalog. Every 10 weeks, Scoutbee analyzes up to a terabyte of supply chain data, sussing out the relationships among more than 14 million companies, their customers, and over 3,400 OEMs globally.

One customer — Audi — discovered 329 potential suppliers compared with the 38 it found through traditional channels, and completed the “scout-to-source” process in just seven weeks while saving 68%. Other satisfied clients include Adelfiolzener, DMG MORI, Knauf, and Bosch Group’s Rexroth.

“The procurement market is hungry for a disruptive and easy-to-implement solution like Scoutbee’s,” said HV Holtzbrinck Venture partner Jan Miczaika. “While there are many procure-to-pay technologies for chief procurement officers and their teams, Scoutbee, with its AI-powered technology, bridges a huge gap in supplier visibility and the process of sourcing strategic projects.”

Scoutbee is headquartered in Würzburg, Germany, but in January opened offices in Arlington, Virginia.

After reading what is nothing more than a press release, and does not have a VentureBeat author, as the content was provided to VentureBeat by Scoutbee, without VentureBeat performing any analysis. However, we then noticed a peculiar item in the upper right-hand corner of the website.

That was independent journalism? VentureBeat received no income from Scoutbee for this article? If that is true, then why distribute what amounts to a press release for Scoutbee and call it an article? VentureBeat seems to be happy to lie to its readers and to pretend that is independent.

Lets back up even further.

That was journalism?

If the author does not write the article, but the material is written by a company trying to promote itself, that is not considered journalism. That is either called PR or contract marketing.

Secondly, why does a reader have to contribute to reading press releases from a companyshouldn’t the company be paying the reader?

This contribute button looks like an artifact that makes the reader THINK that VentureBeat is not a rigged affair and distributing PR releases for paying companies. And that this article was not paid for by the subject of the article, in this case, Scoutbee.

The link goes to a subscription page. VentureBeat appears to be asking the target (the readers) to contribute in addition to what VentureBeat has already charged Scoutbee.

Just PR Releases?

One might say if VentureBeat is lying to its readers about its funding and bias and its just announcing various new companies and funding, what is the harm?

Well first, it means that every article they publish about companies will be inaccurate. Secondly, this is never what media outlets do. They invariably also cover other topics, using the same cover that they refuse to discuss their funding sources. Notice the following article on privacy.

In this article, VentureBeat is telling people not to worry about a company called Clearview AI for the invasion of their privacy. 

Let us see this article’s logic.

It’s easy to feel outrage at Clearview AI for creating facial recognition trained with 3 billion images scraped without permission from sites like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but the company should be only one of the targets of your ire. Pervasive surveillance capitalism can make you feel helpless, but shaping AI regulation is part of citizenship in the 21st century, and you’ve got a lot of options. On Tuesday, Senator Ed Markey (D – MA) sent a letter to Clearview AI demanding answers about a data breach involving billions of photos scraped from the web without permission and the sale of facial recognition to governments with poor human rights records like Saudi Arabia. That would be scandalous news for most companies, but not Clearview AI. For context, here’s what the past week looked like for the company: News emerged Monday that Clearview AI is reportedly working on a security camera and augmented reality glasses equipped with facial recognition. Following a data breach reported last Wednesday, we learned that Clearview AI’s client list includes more than 2,900 organizations, including governments and businesses from around the world.

In all, it comprises businesses from 27 countries, including Walmart, Macy’s, and Best Buy, and hundreds of law enforcement agencies, from the FBI to ICE, Interpol, and the Department of Justice. Tech giants like Google and Facebook sent Clearview AI cease-and-desist letters last Tuesday.

Back in January, the New York Times’ Kashmir Hill, who first brought Clearview AI to people’s attention, reported that the company was working with more than 600 law enforcement agencies and a handful of private companies. But reporting last week brought the Clearview AI client list into sharper focus, along with the number of searches by each client. The story also revealed that a total of 500,000 searches had been made.

A breakdown of an APK version of the Clearview app found by Gizmodo on a public AWS server the same day signals the potential addition of a voice search option in the future.

Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That previously told multiple news outlets the company focuses on law enforcement clients in North America, but an internal document obtained by BuzzFeed News shows government, law enforcement, and business clients around the world.

Everything we’ve learned about Clearview in the past week gives credence to the New York Times’ claim in January that the company might end privacy, and to VentureBeat news editor Emil Protalinski’s assessment that Clearview is on a “short slippery slope.”

If what Clearview AI did and continues to do makes you angry, then you’re probably with the majority of people who lack understanding of data privacy law and feel you have little to no control over how businesses and governments collect or use your personal data.

If you believe privacy is a right that deserves protection in an increasingly digital and AI-driven world, don’t aim your anger at the Peter Thiel-backed company itself. The way it operates may be insensitive or even horrifying, but save your questions for the businesses and governments working with Clearview AI. People deserve answers to the kinds of questions Senator Markey asks about the extent of the data breach and Clearview’s business practices, but people should also question policy that enables Clearview to exist.

Because Clearview AI doesn’t matter as much as the public’s response to how those in positions of power choose to use Clearview’s technology.

Don’t Focus on Clearview AI?

This article gave me a lot of information I was unaware of. But it is sure concerned with not focusing on Clearview AI, and pointing to other actors. Certainly it makes sense to look outside of Clearview AI, but there is no logical reason to not hold Clearview AI accountable for what they are doing.

While this article had no logic and made me question whether VentureBeat was paid by Clearview AI, the next article, titled Probeat Clearview AIs Short Slippery Slope actually redeemed VentureBeat. However, as we will see, it calls into question the previous article’s assertion that the focus should be everywhere but on Clearview AI.

“Google can pull in information from all different websites,” Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That told CBS News. “So if it’s public, and it’s out there, and it could be inside Google’s search engine, it can be inside ours as well.”

Ton-That is right in saying that Google is a search engine that indexes websites. He is wrong in saying any public information is up for the taking. The difference between Google and Clearview AI is simple: Google knows most websites want to be indexed because webmasters provide instructions explicitly for search engines. Those that don’t want to be indexed can opt out.

I don’t know of any people who are providing their pictures to Clearview AI, nor instructions on how to obtain them. If most people were sending Clearview AI their pictures, the company wouldn’t have to scrape billions of them.

Yes, this author, Emil Protalinski is correct, information is not given to Google so that it can be vacuumed up by anyone who want to. Giving approval to Google is not the same thing as giving the approval to everyone.

“Security is Clearview’s top priority,” Tor Ekeland, an attorney for Clearview AI, told The Daily Beast. “Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security.”

Ekeland is right in saying that data breaches are a part of life in the 21st century. He is wrong in saying that Clearview AI’s top priority is security. If that were the case, the company wouldn’t store its client list and their searches on a computer connected to the internet. It also wouldn’t have a business model that hung on pilfering people’s photos.

Maybe it’s not surprising that a company that is proud of taking data without consent argues that a data breach is business as usual.

Right again, Emil sees through Clearview AI’s BS.

Let’s look at an even tighter time frame. Clearview AI has repeatedly said that its clients include over 600 law enforcement agencies. The company didn’t say that those agencies were its only clients, though. Until it did. On February 19, the CEO implied just that.

“It’s strictly for law enforcement,” Ton-That told Fox Business. “We welcome the debate around privacy and facial recognition. We’ve been engaging with government a lot and attorney generals. We want to make sure this tool is used responsibly and for the right purposes.”

Why does law enforcement have the right to this information? It is presumed that these are legitimate source, but that is not the way the US legal system is supposed to work. Citizens also have a right to privacy from their government.

On February 27, BuzzFeed found that people associated with 2,228 organizations included not just law enforcement agencies but private companies across industries like major stores (Kohl’s, Walmart), banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America), entertainment (Madison Square Garden, Eventbrite), gaming (Las Vegas Sands, Pechanga Resort Casino), sports (the NBA), fitness (Equinox), and cryptocurrency (Coinbase). They created Clearview AI accounts and collectively performed nearly 500,000 searches. Many organizations were caught unaware their employees were using Clearview AI.

It took just eight days for one of Clearview AI’s core arguments — that its tool was only for helping law enforcement officials do their job — to fall apart.

So Emil exposes a massive lie from Clearview AI.

Conclusion

I was able to find one article at VentureBeat that classifies as journalism, and that had some public service function rather than just promoting some company.

But overall, VentureBeat writes articles that do not represent a journalistic entity, and they are the exact opposite of an “independent” entity but are dependent. They are mostly a dependent PR website, with a few non promotional articles mixed in that have a sketchy editorial situation due to the hidden nature VentureBeat’s funding. They run paid placements. However, there is no mention of the funding of the site. This same issue is related to G2Crowd, who receive significant sums of money from vendors as we cover in the article Why G2Crowd Has False Information on S4HANA. I only found G2Crowd’s funding model through an announcement that was meant for vendors about how they had new contracts with various vendors. However, this funding is entirely hidden on the G2Crowd website. G2Crowd is a lead origination site for vendors. Their entire purpose is to get contact information so they can shuttle it to vendors.

This is where we are, with virtually all sources not discussing their funding. Its all secret and behind the curtain. However, their funding is evident from reading their articles.

Independent journalists question what sources of information provide them. They don’t merely allow the sources to write the article for them. That is why it is a inaccurate for VentureBeat to use the term “journalism,” in describing themselves.

Not all articles are like this at VentureBeat, some that cover policy seem to have an actual writer and do not merely repeat covered entity quotes. But readers, of course, must discern which are which, and there is no indication of which articles are industry-funded and which are not. Even Forbes, which is now owned by a China-based company, as we cover in the article Can You Trust IDC and Their Now China Based Owners?, declares which articles provided by contributors (which means outside writers that paid to have the article carried)

And again, you can’t be paid for by industry sources and call yourself independent.

How Media Entities are Forced to Sell Out

Here is the problem. How else is VentureBeat supposed to make money? It can’t sell its magazine as it would have in the pre Internet era. It can’t get much money from advertising, because that has mostly been gobbled up by Google (you know, the company that does no evil). Media entities now have no other choice but to harvest its income from the industry side, and this means that readers no longer have their interests represented. This is the point we have found repeatedly in analyzing a wide variety of IT media entities — each one of them is dependent upon industry for nearly all of their income.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

*https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/10/scoutbee-raises-12-million-to-match-companies-with-suppliers/

*https://venturebeat.com/2020/03/04/if-youre-worried-about-the-end-of-privacy-dont-waste-your-outrage-on-clearview-ai/

*https://venturebeat.com/2020/02/28/probeat-clearview-ais-short-slippery-slope/

Why Most IT Media Will Prefer AI Authors For Their Corporate Friendly IT Articles

Executive Summary

  • IT media has become so robotic and advertiser driven, then it’s a perfect fit for AI to replace many current journalists.
  • The IT media has demonstrated they prefer to be PR outlets for vendors.

Introduction

We analyze the IT media, and we find that many of the articles are written by journalists without domain expertise, without the time to investigate the story, and for entities with enormous financial biases.

The following quotations cover this natural next step to AI writing articles.

Many of these being financially focused news stories since the data is calculated and released frequently. Which is why should be no surprise that Bloomberg news is one of the first adaptors of this automated content. Their program, Cyborg, churned out thousands of articles last year that took financial reports and turned them into news stories like a business reporter.

The Washington Post also has a robot reporting program called Heliograf. In its first year, it produced approximately 850 articles and earned The Post an award for its “Excellence in Use of Bots” from its work on the 2016 election coverage. However, The Post is using their system to not replace journalists, but to assist them and make their jobs easier and faster. – Forbes

AI for Articles Versus Books

Articles, unusually fast-paced article coverage, is perfect for AI. This is because even without AI, many articles are simply a combination of snippets of quotes from “official sources,” with some transitory text which serves to point to the next quotation. This allows the journalist to write an article, but without knowing anything about the topic. Insert “official source,” and the journalist at many an IT media outlet can feel as if they have done their job.

The Useless Nature of IT Media

This is the primary reason that we have stopped accepting media invitations to be interviewed. There is little point in taking the time to explain a topic to a journalist for a significant IT media outlet if they only go and speak to a PR representative who then lies to them — and the journalist then presents “both sides.”

Naturally, a book would be challenging to write with AI, but short articles are quite easy to write with AI. If we look at the example of the media coverage on McDonald’s purchase of an AI company as we wrote about in the article How Awful Was the Coverage of the McDonald’s AI Acquisition? Most of the coverage was already undifferentiated from a robot. There were zero attempts to fact check what just a press release from McDonald’s was. And naturally, the story was filled with falsehoods and PR positioning that none of the media sources caught.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal of AI is to displace workers and to reduce costs so that the savings can be diverted to the billionaire class. The vast majority of media entities look at publishing as simply a way to make money and have no connection to publishing what is true. For them, AI is a perfect fit for their corporate-friendly neutered coverage. AI robots have zero critical thinking ability and configure stories in digestible from, and they work 24 hours a day for no pay. They are, therefore, what IT media entities like ComputerWeekly or TechTarget consider “perfect employees.” Authors can be “constructed” by simply using images from stock photography sites and then creating a fake name to go with the image.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolemartin1/2019/02/08/did-a-robot-write-this-how-ai-is-impacting-journalism/#677b3b007795

*https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/05/business/media/artificial-intelligence-journalism-robots.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/25/the-rise-of-robot-authors-is-the-writing-on-the-wall-for-human-novelists

How PR Firms Act as Parasites on the Media System

Executive Summary

  • PR firms help companies get positive press by manipulating media entities.
  • In this way, they function as parasites on the system, allowing companies with money to get positive and deflect negative press.

Introduction

We recently received this email from a PR firm. (Bold in the quote indicates replacement of the actual noun to provide anonymity.)

Happy new year! When you are back at work in January, I was hoping I might interest you in a telephone briefing with XYZ Software CEO John Doe.

XYZ is an SAP Solution Extension Partner whose ____ software enables organizations to see and analyze exactly how their employees are interacting with their SAP enterprise software suites — including any activity that leads to errors, apps that are never used, workarounds used because the software is bad, etc. By providing complete visibility into software use, XYZ makes it much easier to correct any issues that are hindering employee engagement or productivity. It is especially useful when implementing new suites – for example, companies migrating to S/4HANA – because it helps management understand which applications need to be migrated first and then, post-migration, ensures that employees are adopting and understanding the new software.

XYZ has more than 350 customers, including Coca-Cola, Clorox, Comcast, Disney and GE.

BTW, XYZ works with any enterprise software suite – including Oracle. However, most of their business currently comes through their SAP relationship.

Please let me know what you think!

The Objective and What PR Firms Tell Their Clients

We then went out to this PR firm’s website and found the following text.

ABC helps clients build bigger stories in top tier media, broadcast and the most important tech blogs. We are the media whisperers who connect clients — ABC’s strong relationships, tech-savvy and creativity help us connect clients with reporters, influencers and stories that make a difference.

This PR firm was going to “whisper” to Brightwork Research & Analysis, and we were going to be placed under their spell and motivated to give their client very positive media coverage.

The idea is that the media entity covers the story for free, and the PR firm gets paid for manipulating the media entity. Notice this list of “top PR firms.” We had another vendor reach out to us last year, and we could not figure out what they wanted. Finally, it became apparent they wanted positive coverage, which is not something that we offer. We offer different services, such as competitive intelligence against SAP or Oracle, we provide analytical services, but we don’t produce content for money. I was told that I was quite frustrating and that I was also difficult. Later I revisited their website and found several glowing reports written by some of the analysts, around the same timeframe that they reached out to us.

That is what they were after.

These PR firms don’t do all that much. They do a little writing, but they are mostly just schmoozers. One of their biggest weapons is complimenting members of the media and salesmanship. They have no adherence to a concept of writing what is true but are mercenaries that can be hired to get out any story for money. That is, they lie for a living. 

It is increasingly difficult for media entities to make money, and nearly all have had enormous staff cutbacks. However, these PR firms are doing great. There are PR firms that specialize in specific industries. These are some listed on the Odwyer PR website.

Agriculture | Beauty & Fashion | Entertainment | Environmental & PA | Financial & IR Food & Beverage | Healthcare | Home Furnishings | Professional Svcs. | Sports | Technology | Travel & Economic Dev.

You can see all of the companies they have listed in each category.

There are PR firms that specialize in tech startups, and no doubt, have connections to IT media. There are PR firms just for luxury brands that specialize in regards to the luxury media (Vogue, Vanity Fair, Cigar Aficionado, etc..)

Each PR firm advertises its ability to manipulate the media in their specific area.

Conclusion

Brightwork Research & Analysis we don’t go to wine cellar parties with PR firm employees, and we don’t do “vendor briefings.” For some strange reason, many vendors assume that we do, just because we research the enterprise software market.

We created this response to this PR firm.

John Doe,

An analyst briefing normally applies to analysts like Gartner or Forrester, analyst which have a business model where they receive payments from vendors in exchange for helping vendors getting the word out about their applications.

However, Brightwork Research & Analysis does not follow that model, so we don’t allocate time to vendor briefings.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

https://www.odwyerpr.com/pr_firm_rankings/hightech.htm

Poll Results: Should Brightwork Sell Out to SAP?

Executive Summary

  • SAP resources are often displeased with Brightwork for not being sufficiently pro-SAP.
  • This poll was created to ask the question of how many readers would prefer if we sold out to SAP.

Introduction

In this poll, we asked several questions around not only selling out to SAP but also how readers fell about media and research entities being controlled by software vendors through things like paid placements and advertising. And the results were surprising.

Are the Answers Representative of the General IT Readership?

Unlike the publications of IDC Takes Money to Publish SAP Provided Sample on S/4HANA, How Accurate Was The Forrester TCO Study?, or How Accurate Was ASUG on its S/4HANA Poll?. Those that immediately present any sample they have as representative (or like ASUG, don’t even mention how many samples are included in the poll), we are not offering this poll as representative of the general IT readership.

First, readers of the Brightwork Research & Analysis website come to the website to get the non-industry funded perspective on technology. At least, that is our impression. So the only thing that can be said is that this poll is representative of those that read our website. The only way to determine the applicability to the general readership is for the establishment IT media websites to run this poll on their sites, which of course, the would never do as the questions are not things that they want any of their readers even contemplating. Media entities ranging from ComputerWeekly to TechTarget to Forrester hide their financial relationships with vendors.

This poll had 49 responses.

The Poll Questions and Results

Question #1

The first question sets the situation of the IT media system as it presently runs.

Just about every entity that providers information on SAP is financially connected to SAP.

Without subscribers, most entities must either sell paid placements, sell consulting for software or write sponsored research.

Is that a good thing?

Answer Analysis

Most of the respondents (76%) oppose all of the information about SAP being published by those with a financial bias. But a small percentage (6.5%) seem to think its a good idea.

Question #2

Question #2 specifically asks the question of the poll.

Should Brightwork Research & Analysis sell out to SAP?

That is should we serve as similar function as other consulting and media entities and repeat information from SAP?

Answer Analysis

This is an encouraging response. The vast majority (85.7%) would prefer that we do not sell out to SAP. I can only assume that the (14.3%) think we should are connected to SAP financially.

Question #3

Question #3 deals with the ownership of media entities.

Both Forbes and IDC (read details here Can You Trust IDC and Their Now China Based Owners?) were recently purchased by Chinese media entities.

China is four spots higher in press freedom from the bottom out of 180 countries than North Korea. And more than ever Forbes and IDC publications simply rent out their websites to the highest bidder.

Should Brightwork Research & Analysis look for a buyer in China or North Korea and get in on this highly profitable business?

Answer Analysis

This is an encouraging response. The vast majority (81.6%) would prefer that we do not sell out to a company based in a country that scores on the absolute bottom of the press freedom rankings. What are the (18.4%) thinking that this would be a good thing? Seriously, do these respondents want their information controlled by North Korea or China? What a strange response.

Question #4

Question #4 deals with how accessing funding can impact accuracy.

If we sell out to SAP or a China-based entity, our accuracy will have to decline…but we will be able to use the funding to grow. Would a decline in accuracy be a problem for you as a reader?

Answer Analysis

Who answered “No” on this question? The respondent is “No,” whether this would impact out accuracy. So these readers would trust our content as much as if we had not sold out to an entity based in North Korea or China? Even if the resource is pro-SAP, it is difficult to see how they would trust the content the same as before selling out.

Question #5

Question #5 is multiple choice and is a tongue in cheek question as to where to spend these newfound riches.

If Brightwork Research & Analysis were to sell out to SAP or to a China-based media company, what should we spend the money on?

Answer Analysis

This is a humor-based question. But the real stuff here is the write-in comments, which we have included in the table below.

Write in Comments

 
Write in Comment
Our Comment
1Please don't get sold)
Encouraging
2Hire a good copywriter to clean up the poor gramma
Ohh that hurts. Actually we check our grammar with a grammar checker -- so many people out there think they know more about grammatical rules then they actually do. We would point out there is no period at the end of this sentence.
3Just don't
Encouraging
4Do not sell. You are doing a great work, pointing out the real problems. I just saw and article about discrimination in job. Well this exactly is happening and immigration through H1B is larger problem than Mexico or Trade deficit with China.
Encouraging
5Scientology membership.
Yes, Scientology memberships are a great use for excess cash.
6Buy SAP shares
Hmmm...that is one option.
7Invest the money to research and investigate technological phony claims.
This is a curious one, because we already do this. And we would not be allowed to do this if we took money from SAP -- unless we only investigated non-SAP false claims.
8Create Brightwork-2 and continue like you did before the sellout
So this is using the money to start a fresh research entity.
9On me. I then probably don't need accurate information any longer...
Very good -- this is the only response where the respondent places themselves into this scenario.
10Do you really think you are worth buying by anyone let alone by a company like SAP? OMG. Pull your head out of that hole right away..
We did not say sell the company, we said sell out. Forrester, Forbes, IDC and Diginomica and others sell out to SAP, without being owned by SAP. This means they allow paid placements or simply rig study results as part of sponsored research. Our media popularity indicates we could in fact sell our articles to SAP and other entities.
11Pls stick to independent research
Encouraging
12expand your coverage
Right, with money from SAP we could cover other areas honestly, but no longer SAP of course.
13continue to give accurate analysis on sap products. if sap doesn't like it, ask sap to pay more.
Encouraging
14continue to give accurate analysis on sap products. if sap doesn't like it, ask sap to pay more.
This is sort of a pressure strategy.
15I don't want you to be sold but if you do, then buy a yacht and sip pinacolada in Carribean.
Encouraging, and considerate.
16Oracle Cloud Credits
This wins the award for the funniest. Everyone knows Oracle Cloud credits are useless.

Question #6

Question #6 is a question related to the concern the readers have regarding media sources being controlled.

Should industry sources control all media? Is there a benefit to having information providers that are independent?

Answer Analysis

If this is most readers, this response is scary. For (40.8%) of the respondents, it shows no concern for independent information.

Conclusion

We hope the participants and readers enjoyed this poll as much as we did. It provides a non-representative, but still interesting and amusing observation into what some people who filled out the poll think.

One issue with the poll, which we realized after we designed it, was that some individuals, for instance, those that work for large vendors, may want biased research as the company they work for is in the best position to buy off media and analyst firms. This brings up the question — if the information is false, but it helps you achieve your objectives, are you in favor of its publication? We may need a future poll which divides the respondents by those that benefit from false information, and those that are harmed by false information.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

The Limited Capacity to Process Negative Information

Executive Summary

  • There are two sides of the problem in reporting negative information.
  • We cover the lesser-known restrictive ability of humans to tolerate negative information.

Introduction

We often cover the financial bias that exists in the IT space. This places emphasis on the supply side of the equation. However, there is also the demand side. And readers show a dominant preference for positive or uplifting information over negative or critical data. This topic is of great interest to Brightwork Research & Analysis because we cover stories that other information providers in the space will not cover.

The VW Dieselgate Scandal

The topic of the VW scandal is just one of many examples of how the interest in negative topics tends to wane. That is, the appetite for such stories is limited in the minds of the public. If we think back to the VW scandal, the response can be considered muted. Not to say that the story was not covered, but it did not seem to be passed between people, anything like some positive story about a “green future.”

Not only did the VW story expose the automotive industry, but it revealed the dereliction of duty on the part of regulators who created a measurement system that was so lazy that it was easy to trick. You don’t have to be a mechanical engineer to realize that running a car on a spinning cylinder is not a real-life test. The team that caught the issue was not even part of the regulatory apparatus and had something like $70,000 in funding. This tiny investment and research performed by the University of West Virginia are what led to the correct measurements — and VW and other companies like Audi being caught. The California Air Control Board eventually confronted them, but mostly VW almost got away with it. 

Fake Recycling

I noted the same thing about the realization that the recycling industry has been merely sending its material to China, which China recently stopped taking. This was not recycling, but just moving the waste between countries. This demonstrates an overall pattern. When it comes to something uplifting, a story of how technology is going to solve a problem, many people want to discuss this.

However, when the complexities surface and the blowback and broken promises are laid bare, the percentage of the same group that wants to discuss drops quickly. They have better things to do than look at reality.

If one looks at LinkedIn, the inspirational stories and “feel good” explanations get many likes. But the articles on the reality — of how much the reality is different from the promise, these shares are much less prevalent. This is confirmation bias. People are deselecting disturbing or non-inspirational data points.

What is Unspeakable?

It seems as if the worse the information is, the less it will be observed. This reminds me of the term “unspeakable.” I am not sure how common this word is outside of English — but what a ridiculous word. Certain things are true but are unspeakable. They cannot be spoken. Why would that be true? I have decided to place pictures of kittens in my articles at specific places. This is so people can feel good as they are reading the expose. VW scandal — then a picture of a kitten — the fact that the cars were marketed as ecological — then a picture of a kitten.

Look at these kittens. Aren’t they cute? Is the insertion of videos like this into critical media pieces necessary to increase readership? 

Conclusion

IT readers, like other readers, want to read uplifting and optimistic stories. Media entities that provide this coverage benefit in several ways.

  1. Positive and non-critical stories make the media entity more friendly to advertisers.
  2. Most readers prefer positive and non-critical stories.
  3. Positive and non-critical stories are cheaper to produce. Companies have large investments in marketing and PR, which is pushing out a constant stream of false but positively spun information. This information is customized to be picked up by media entities. Media entities can declare that they performed their function because they checked with the source.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

Why SAP Resources Do Not Critique False SAP Sponsored Research

Executive Summary

  • SAP sponsors firms like IDC or Forrester to produce false research.
  • SAP resources, who claim to be data-driven, do not critique this research in public.

Introduction

As stated in the article, IDC Takes Money to Publish SAP Provided Sample on S/4HANA. This is the pattern of sponsored research from SAP. Notice that the sample was rigged for Forrester when they were paid by SAP to minimize S/4HANA implementation costs based upon a sample of three implementations. Described in this link How Accurate Was Forrester’s TCO Research on HANA? The same trick was applied to the ASUG poll where the ASUG numbers were entirely out of line with all other numbers was described in the article, How Accurate Was ASUG on their S/4HANA Poll? 

SAP’s History with Sponsored Research

SAP has a long term history of feeding sponsored entities with non-representative samples. The entire intention of the sponsorship of the IDC research into S/4HANA was to make S/4HANA uptake look better than it is. When SAP or an SAP-sponsored entity quotes some analysis, that analysis will be distorted. 

Notice this explanation of how Hasso Plattner referred to 200 “peer-reviewed” research papers that proved HANA supported the claims in his SAPPHIRE slide. None of these studies exist as we cover in the article How Accurate Was Hasso Plattner on the HANA Peer-Reviewed Publications? 

SAP Resources are Silent on False Research

IDC can publish this research, and they can be sure that it will not be critiqued and that it will mostly be reshared and repeated. All of the SAP consulting firms will support it, and IT media entities do not critique research. Furthermore, these IT media entities count SAP as a customer for advertising and paid placements, so they know to keep their mouths shut. IDC also owns IDG, which owns 8 of the top 20 media IT brands (CIO, ComputerWorld, etc..) — so they would certainly not critique it. This is in the minds of many the perfect end state. All major IT media and analyst entities remotely controlled by the largest software vendors and consulting firms. This is referred to as “Synergy” as we covered in. Can you Trust IDC and Their China Based Owners? 

The evidence for my proposal can be found both in looking for articles that critique this study and on the comments that come on this article’s share. There will not be a single individual from an SAP friendly entity that will agree that the IDC research is rigged or otherwise looks suspicious. The most they will say is that it “could be better.” Watch the comments and see if I am correct.

This is also covered in the following quotation.

This reminds me of my article about critical thinking and questioning the motive of sources. There is an entire industry around paid advertorial reports and awards that are nothing more than paid advertisements.  – Jen Underwood

Critical Thinking Skills Are Little Desired in the IT Employment Market

We talk about the importance of teaching critical thinking. Still, my observation of every vendor and consulting company I ever worked for or with is that companies aggressively oppose critical thinking. What they want is people who will do correctly as they are told. When I performed research into topics, if it did not turn out as the entity desired, I was threatened that if I did not hide the results, I would be removed. If the official line is that the moon is made of cheese, then this narrative must be repeated, and to not repeat it is to put one’s career at risk. As you know, we frequently discuss “math and science” education, but like IDC, employers in the IT space want people who will falsify the math when they so desire. So there is very little market for honest mathematics or honest statistics.

I completely concur regarding critical thinking being unwelcome. I’ve experienced my fair share of attacks by cult-like vendor advocates in varied attempts to destroy and silence my fair, valid evaluations. With the tech consolidating and big tech dominating digital communication channels, shadow banning, censoring, etc., honest voices get drowned out.– Jen Underwood

Conclusion

The strategy deployed by SAP resources is to ignore and never publicly comment on obviously false research that is funded by SAP, except sometimes to try to e up with an excuse for the research. This is a type of non-observance, and it is also related to confirmation bias. SAP resources minimize the incorporation of the data point of the fake research item from their observation.

Search Our Other Paid Off IT Media Content

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

References

Which IT Media Information Sources are Controlled by SAP?

Executive Summary

  • SAP tightly controls many more IT media information sources than is generally understood.
  • We cover which are controlled by SAP.

Introduction

The IT media space is dominated by entities that do not declare their funding. They do not have any disclosure statements because they never bring up the topic. Readers often think they are reading real articles, when in fact they are reading paid placements or advertising motivated articles, or articles designed to help promote lead generation. TechTarget and ComputerWeekly and G2Crowd all work for vendors to collect customer information.

Listing Some of the Popular IT Media Entities and Their Relationship to SAP

 
Company
Coverage that Reinforces SAP Marketing?
Financially Independent from SAP?
1ComputerWeekly
Yes
No
2Forrester
Yes
No
3Diginomica
Yes
No
4ASUG
Yes
No
5CIO
Yes
No
6Gartner
Yes
No
7TechTarget
Yes
No
8InfoWeek
Yes
No
9G2Crowd
Yes
No
10Forbes
Yes
No

Serving Readers or 100% Industry Funding Entities?

As can be seen, none of these popular IT media entities provide unbiased information on SAP.

The websites intend to hide the relationship to the actual funders. Readers think they are reading an article by the media entity that seems authoritative, but they are generally blind to the relationships behind the scenes.

Conclusion

To see how these businesses work, just review our article on IDG titled The Problem With IDG’s Media Conflict of Interests.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

Search Our Other Paid Off IT Media Content

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrester_Research

https://www.similarweb.com

How Does Brightwork’s Web Influence Compare with Other Sites?

Executive Summary

  • We decided to compare the statistics for our website versus the other entities in the space.
  • Find out how much we stacked up.

Introduction

This article takes the best-known entities in the space that cover the same area as Brightwork Research & Analysis.

Developing the Method of Comparison Between the Websites

There are several statistics that could be used, but we usually use two basic statistics when evaluating a website’s performance with readers.

  1. Number of Visitors: This is the number of people that visited the website. We often use page views, but the statistics website we use counts the number of visitors.
  2. Average Time on the Site: This is the number of minutes that, on average, a visitor spends on the site.

The way we rate Brightwork’s performance is the Number of Visitors * Average Time on Site. This gives us a Total Minutes on Site. These statistics are compiled monthly by the statistics website we use, so it makes sense as the measurement interval as it is the data that is available. One could, of course, do a three-month average, which would give a more accurate value, as website volume and time-on-site goes up and down per month. For this reason, we took an average of three months for each of the other entities, but we used just one month for the Brightwork value. This is because we want to track our performance per month to see if we are going up or down and how this compares to the other information providers.

The Total Minutes on Site Per Website Per Month

Below y0u can see how Brightwork compares against what we consider information providers that cover a similar space.

This means that of these websites, Brightwork Research & Analysis (for May) had more than all of these sites combined. There were several other entities with websites, including Mint Juras and Josh Greenbaum. However, their web traffic is so low that it is, in effect, not measurable.

Comparing Forrester’s Monthly Website Minutes

The picture changes a bit when Forrester is added to the mix.

Forrester, which is one of the three big IT analyst names (the others being IDC and Gartner).

We did not include IDC as they don’t cover the same topics, and Gartner is so large that it would dwarf any other of the entities, including IDC and Forrester.

Forrester ends up being twice in web influence as considerable as Brightwork Research & Analysis. This is just web influence; Forrester’s offline influence is far more significant than Brightwork’s. Forrester has constant meetings with customers, phone conversations, etc.. These are interactions that are not captured as online statistics. However, Forrester distributes their research through their website, as can be seen in the following screenshot.

Viewing research online would be captured by online statistics. While a PDF is downloaded will also be counted by online statistics, if a customer opens the PDF from their computer after downloading it, that would not be counted.

  • Another interesting point is that Forrester also covers more areas than does Brightwork.
  • This is very clear by reviewing their material.
  • They show 62,165 items that can be searched, and when one searches for just SAP, we get the following result.

5,272/62,165 (the total items that can be searched) is 8.4%. Of our coverage, while we have never run the statistics, at least 50% must be SAP. 

Therefore, for the areas we cover (and this was surprising to us), Brightwork more likely has more web influence than Forrester. (and of course, Brightwork is entirely absent from many areas that Forrester covers)

All of this is amazing by itself as Forrester has 1,345 employees, according to Wikipedia.

The Status Quo Nature of Material Published on the Websites

Brightwork stands apart from most of the other information providers on the list in that we challenge the status quo. Probably the main thing that Brightwork is known for is for challenging the largest authorities in the enterprise software space.

This led us to analyze which of the information providers on the list do this.

Type of Media Coverage

 
Website
Coverage that Reinforces the Status Quo ?
Financially Independent from Vendors?
1Brightwork Research & Analysis
No
Yes
2Forrester
Yes
No
3Diginomica
Yes
No
4ASUG
Yes
No
5Vinnie Mirchandani
Yes
No
6E3Zine
No
Yes
7Constellation Reseach
Yes
No
8House of Brick
No
Yes
9UpperEdge
No
Yes
10Third Stage Consulting
No
No
11Palisade Compliance
No
Yes

Conclusion

This is, of course, both interesting and encouraging for us.

Brightwork has proven something that had not been shown previously (at least for the time we have been analyzing IT media and IT analyst output), which is that there is a market for non-status quo information around enterprise software. Notice that all of the other non-status quo websites are significantly smaller in web influence. And this is unrelated to content quality. In our view, UpperEdge produces the best content on IT (and often SAP and Oracle) contract negotiation. But UpperEdge’s coverage is narrow — and this limits their readership. UpperEdge is not a research entity like Brightwork but publishes to gain interest in their contract and IT legal services.

IT media entities, consulting companies and IT analysts operate under the assumption that their readers can be easily tricked. Therefore they can write articles that provide them with often misleading information, and or information that leaves out areas of analysis that those that are friendly to the entities would not want to be published. This is the outcome every time industry sources are courted as customers for advertising or to support content. This is true in IT media, but also other categories of media. The IT media space is dominated by inferior information. For example, AI has been massively oversold by vendors, consulting, IT media, and IT analyst entities. There is only a tiny amount of information published that questions the status quo. IT media entities like ComputerWorld has 4.5 million visitors per month. ComputerWorld is paid by vendors and consulting firms to publish information that both get their stories out, and provides them with information about readers that is collected from visitors.

No doubt providing status quo coverage is profit-maximizing. It allows that entity to raise money from vendors. But of course, in most cases, the status quo information is incorrect, precisely because it is controlled or at least influenced by industry sources.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

Search Our Other Paid Off IT Media Content

References

https://diginomica.com/asos-profit-collapse-highlights-the-importance-of-animal-print-skirts-as-well-as-working-tech/

https://diginomica.com/asos-and-ocado-why-warehouses-matter-in-an-e-commerce-retail-world/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrester_Research

https://www.similarweb.com

The Problem With IDG’s Media Conflict of Interests

Executive Summary

  • Media entities in IT have a significant problem with conflicts interest.
  • IDG demonstrates these conflicts right on their website.

Introduction

We are careful not to have any conflicts of interest in our research. This means accepting no income from vendors or any entity that would influence our research output. This gives us a great interest in IDG’s business model.

IDG Marketing Services?

Under Marketing Services, IDG shows the following offering.

This means that IDG produces content that helps promote prospects to buy — at the behest to those entities that pay IDG.

This means that IDG’s content cannot be trusted because they write (at least partially) on the basis of entities that pay them to help get sales.

Advertise with IDG

Under IDG’s advertising page, they list the following information. Here IDG lists their major IT media brands like CIO, Computerworld, etc… These are brands through which IDG publishes. 

It is difficult to see how IDG can write unbiased articles, influence critical aspects of buying decisions, and also partner with tech marketers.

IDG is not just writing compromised content that is written for vendors but read by sellers. 

IDG is also providing a marketing automation application that uses data that is taken from readers with other data from as they say “third-party applications.”

This makes us suspicious of the data that IDG collects with cookies. So we performed a test.

Brightwork Research Versus IDG’s ComputerWorld and CIO Tracking

We decided to test how many individual tracking items are used on our website versus IDG’s ComputerWorld and CIO.

The following is the number trackers that were blocked by our tracking blocking browser. One is Google, which is not related to what the site does.

The second is Pingdom, which is a service we use that tells us where the visitor is from, how long the website takes to load, and essential performance characteristics. We are unaware of what the other four trackers are. But we only use Pingdom, and we use it internally and do not sell any information about visitors to customers.

We never thought of doing this.

This is the number of trackers involved when one goes to the ComputerWorld site. Twenty-eight trackers are quite a few trackers. 

CIO, another IDG publication, has even more trackers, at thirty-one separate trackers. 

These trackers are initiated every time a web page from CIO or ComputerWorld is loaded into a browser.

ESPN’s Tracking

As a point of comparison, we checked the number of trackers to the ESPN sports site.

Interesting. Even a sports site can have 13 separate trackers.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tracking

The Wall Street Journal had only eight trackers, which is not much more than on our website, where we only know of one active tracking (Pingdom). This seems to imply that the Wall Street Journal is not aggressively tracking its visitors. First, the Wall Street Journal relies on both subscriptions and advertising. 

The Scale of IDG’s Reader Tracking

ComputerWorld averages 4.3 million visitors per month. CIO averages two million visitors per month.

Furthermore, IDG owns six other publications in the enterprise software space with a monthly visitor number of roughly 12 million. And when IDG provides information to vendors, they are not going to offer it for just one publication. Instead, it is aggregated for all the publications that are related to one another. That is a lot of information that is being sold to vendors and consulting firms.

  • This means that IDG is tracking all website visitors and is making a great effort to do so.
  • A big part of its business model is selling this information to industry sources.
  • IDG has every incentive to be extremely invasive with its site visitors, and little incentive to not collect as much data as they can from visitors.

Conclusion

IDG is a corrupt entity that is primarily selling out the interests of visitors. They not only have partnerships and advertising that influences the media output, but they serve as a marketing front end for IDG’s customers that are invading the privacy of their visitors.

The Lack of Disclosure

There is nowhere on any of IDG’s websites that express how the websites function, or the massive conflicts of interest that control IDG. The place to find this information is IDG.com, which is a site focused on selling to companies and which very few individuals ever visit. They publish no articles at that URL, so there is no reason for any reader of ComputerWorld or CIO or other to visit the site.

IDG only tells the truth of how they operate to those they are trying to sell their services to, and not to its readers.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

Search Our Other Paid Off IT Media Content

References

*https://privacy.net/stop-cookies-tracking/

Categories IDG

How Bob Evans Enables PR Placements as Real Looking Articles for SAP

Executive Summary

  • Bob Evans runs a PR firm that publishes fake articles for SAP, Oracle, and IBM.
  • In this article, we describe how he seeds articles into various media sites to make them appear authentic.

Introduction

Bob Evans has published several articles in cloud wars.co that promoted the benefits of the Qualtrics acquisition. We review what Bob Evans does and how he makes money to distribute press releases.

Bob Evans and Evans Strategic Communication

Bob Evans runs a PR firm. PR means that you are open for business to influence the media for money. PR firms don’t care what is true. They push any narrative they are paid to push. For instance, Harvey Weinstein had many of the biggest PR firms on the Weinstein Company payroll, and they are the dirtiest underbelly of the media system.

Qualtrics was a ridiculously overpriced acquisition, which we covered in this article. Does SAP’s Qualtrics Acquisition Make Any Sense? However, since its acquisition, Bill McDermott has faced criticism because the price was so illogical. This seems like almost a direct Bill McDermott motivated placement.

The way it works is as follows.

  1. SAP told Bob Evans what they wanted the article to say. When you work with any marketing department, they tell you either tell you what to write, or they change your material until it is precisely what they want it to say.
  2. Bob Evans PR firm Evans Strategic Communications then paid to place the article in cloudwars.co. This would have cost very little as cloudwars.co has a small site volume. Bob Evans’ favorite distribution point for PR releases is Forbes, which will allow you to publish anything for money, mainly since a China-based company purchased them in 2017. We analyzed another paid placement by Bob Evans in this article http://bit.ly/2O6RVHv. This article was completely false from top to bottom. But again, you don’t hire a PR firm to say true things, PR firms are in the disinformation business. The budget was not there for a Forbes placement this time.
  3. The media source, Forbes or Cloudwars then violates the trust of their readers by not declaring that they were paid to publish the placement.
  4. Then SAP can refer to this article as evidence that “the market is acknowledging SAP’s strategy with Qualtrics.” SAP has routinely referred to a Forrester study that lauded SAP’s translytical database,” but again, without mentioning that SAP paid Forrester to write that study. http://bit.ly/2NR9Jr3 And SAP quoted that study in a quarterly call to Wall Street using it as evidence of their progress.

Notice the primary thrust of the article, that Qualtrics will eventually be considered a high-value acquisition. This is precisely what McDermott needs the marketplace to think because the general impression is that SAP completely overpaid.

What is Cloudwars?

I started reading Cloudwars, which I had never heard of. I noticed three sorts of over the top pro-SAP/Qualtrics acquisition articles, all written by Bob Evans. Then I saw other articles clearly written for Microsoft. At the bottom of the site, it states, “Evans Strategic Communications.” So this is just the website for the PR firm. There is no go-between. Vendors pay the PR firm, and the PR firms publish the articles on this site called Cloudwars. Then need to get these same articles published on websites with reach, which is where Forbes or other high volume sites come into play.

Conclusion

The issue is that if you want to make money in media, you have almost no choice but to sell your media presence to industry sources. This is what, in part, allows the most significant entities to rig the system in their favor, drastically reducing the competitiveness of the overall market. Only a very few media sources in IT have been able to resist this model.

References

These are the articles at Cloudwars. They are all information written by SAP and released through Evans Strategic Communications that poses as independent articles.

*https://cloudwars.co/x4-summit-sap-qualtrics-enterprise-software/

*https://cloudwars.co/sap-ceo-qualtrics-growth-opportunity/

*https://cloudwars.co/sap-stunning-transformation-qualtrics/