How SAP Sponsored Studies Are Repeated in the SAP Ecosystem

Executive Summary

  • SAP sponsors studies from firms like IDC and Forrester that produce false information.
  • This false information is then repeated by biased individuals.

Introduction

This article is an illustration of how inaccurate information is replicated from its original source — which is an SAP funded study, into the general SAP ecosystem.

The Quote

This quotation was taken from LinkedIn by a partner at PWC who has a long history of providing inaccurate information around S/4HANA.

I thought I saw some stat that said circa 75% of ECC customers planned to move to S4 by 2025. If they are planning there must be some understanding. One big gap I see is how to get there as there are marketing views for conversions and all of the great tooling out there, as well as for greenfield and the different set of tooling out there. – Mark Chalfen

What is the Source of This Quotation?

The quotation of 75% of customers planning to move to S/4HANA by 2025 is most likely from an SAP sponsored study published by IDC.

The number quoted by IDC is 73%, which is the only poll I can find that is even close to the 75% quoted above. Others polls show a much lower percentage of companies planning to move to S/4HANA by 2025.

We analyzed in the IDC article in IDC Takes Money to Publish SAP Provided Sample on S/4HANA.

The IDC study follows the example of previous SAP sponsored studies in that the sample is provided by SAP. Such as when SAP provided Forrester with exactly three S/4HANA customers for their S/4HANA TCO study.

Faking an Ignorance of Statistical Sampling

These types of studies pretend that they do not understand sampling and that therefore any sample is representative of the population. Curiously, while we promote math and science competency, we have major publishing entities that will publish any poll in return for money. And using any sample provided by the entity providing the funding. SAP Marketing then exaggerates the already false poll on their website.

Conclusion

The point of such falsified polls is to push inaccurate information into the SAP ecosystem where it will be repeated by other financially biased parties with no analysis performed as to the validity of the study.

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

The Sales Reason for the High Failure Rate of SAP Projects

Executive Summary

  • SAP projects have large numbers of failed implementations.
  • This coverage of SAP’s sales process by E3Zine helps explain why.

Introduction

In the article How SAP is Now Strip Mining its Customers, we covered how SAP has so many failures, an abnormal number of failures. There are several reasons for this, one being the immaturity of so many of SAP’s products. However, the SAP sales process also explains this. And the article The End of SAP Relationship Management by N. N. Nomen Nescio (that is an anonymous contributor) in the E3Zine publication explains why.

The E3Zine Article Quotations

The Motivations of Sales

SAP CEO Bill McDermott transformed the company into a sales-driven organization. There’s two ways in which SAP salespeople try to reach McDermott’s high revenue goals. One, through dubious interpretations of licensing fees and contracts (Indirect Access); and two, through selling unnecessary and often unfinished products that nobody needs to fulfill the sales quota.

Licensing fees seem to be the primary revenue generator at the moment. Many salespeople probably only reached their sales quota through Indirect Access. The possibilities to interpret it are endless. Many customers save themselves from Indirect Access by signing a cloud contract, which seems to pacify SAP salespeople. – E3Zine

This is a problem in that salespeople cannot meet quotas without indirect access. There are several reasons for this.

  1. SAP has made a number of acquisitions, but there is very little cross over between the internally developed SAP product customers and the acquisitions. Essentially, the acquisitions make no business or sales sense and seem primarily driven by the need to deliver a story to Wall Street.
  2. SAP has not successfully migrated many customers to S/4HANA which we covered in the article The S/4HANA Implementation Buyer Intelligence Highlights.
  3. Customers that have been pushed to HANA have had very mixed results from what SAP told customers was a groundbreaking database.
  4. Most of the internally developed non-ERP products like PO/PI, PLM, BW, APO, CRM, and many others have played themselves out. They are now known to be of low quality, they are difficult to implement, difficult to use, and damage the companies that purchase them.

SAP’s Enormous and Complex Product List

SAP has thousands of products, changes its metrics frequently, and makes and retracts announcement even more often. This explosive formula only leads to chaos for customers. However, it also opens up the perfect opportunity for SAP salespeople to get the customer to buy a new license. This means that while companies have to deal with SAP’s arbitrary definition of Indirect Access, new SAP salespeople from Ariba, Hybris, Concur and SuccessFactors are eagerly knocking at their door to sell them new products and even more licenses – resulting in chaos for the customers. – E3Zine

When we counted the SAP product list we came up with over 300 as we covered in the article How Many Products Does SAP Have?

However, if you include the variants of each product, you can come up with more, and we assume this is how E3Zine performed their count. And E3Zine is correct, this leads to chaos. The complexity of the SAP product database is far beyond the capacity of SAP sales reps to keep up with it. This is why we have proposed that SAP has grown so large that it has essentially become unmanageable. It also means that SAP is increasingly a liability to its own customers because its sales reps, as well as consultants, often do not know the actual reality of the products.

Losing Touch With Reality

The new SAP salespeople from acquired companies don’t know anything about ECC 6.0, ERP’s history or traditional licensing contracts. As mentioned before, it’s not about relationship management anymore – it’s about reaching a sales quota. – E3Zine

This is exactly correct. The entire sales process has moved increasingly to transactional behavior, which is a fit with McDermott’s short term orientation.

Conclusion

This article from E3Zine receives a 10 out of 10 for accuracy in their article.

The things that E3Zine points out are exactly what we find in our research and contacts with ongoing SAP projects and sales initiatives. E3Zine should also be commended for being willing, to tell the truth on this topic.

Secondly, the damaged nature of the SAP sales process is one reason why SAP projects have such a high failure rate. SAP products are being sold with little concern for how the application will be implemented or whether the application fits with the actual requirements at the account. Salespeople, under this extreme quota, cannot afford to take these considerations into account and expect to keep their job.

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

The End Of SAP Relationship Management

How SAP Resources Make False Statements About Brightwork Research

Executive Summary

  • SAP produced the following video where both the CEO of SAP and Qualtrics make numerous false statements.
  • We analyze this video for accuracy.

Introduction

SAP resources often do not like our research conclusions. They will often try to defend the SAP marketing statements no matter how false. In this article, we cover how one SAP resource named Paul Hardy entirely misstated what Brightwork’s statements have been.

Paul Hardy’s Quotation from the SAP blog

Paul Hardy on Not Everything on the Internet Being True

If the articles that Shaun writes were true then everyone who works with SAP should be very worried. However, not everything on the internet is true, as we know. – Paul Hardy

This beginning statement is meaningless. Furthermore, it is true as Paul says, that not everything written on the Internet is true, but first, Paul Hardy wrote this on the Internet. This is a way of critiquing the research without providing evidence. Not only is not everything published on the Internet not true, but many spoken things also are not true, as are items written on paper. Its good that we have that established.

Paul Hardy on Brightwork Reading Like a Conspiracy Theory

As it is, the articles read rather like a conspiracy theory i.e. “I am the only one in the world telling the truth, every single other person on the planet are conspiring together to hide the truth”.

He has been predicting things for many years that keep not happening e.g. SAP ditching HANA, which is rather like the people who keep predicting the end of the world and when it doesn’t happen on the target day, they set a new date.

Some of the accusations are contradictory – for example he both accuses Hasso Plattrner of designing a rubbish database and at the same time claims Hasso did not design it all, but acquired it from a mysterious un-named company.

As per the criticism that my writing is like a conspiracy theory and that I am the “only person telling the truth and every other person on the planet is conspiring together.”

SAP Has and Ecosystem or a Conspiracy?

SAP has an ecosystem, and that system does conspire together. It is called a series of partnerships. And SAP does pay media entities like Forbes and TechTarget to publish SAP friendly articles. We covered SAP’s funding and control over media entities in the article How to Best Understand Control of the SAP on IT Media. We covered the control over vendors and consulting firms by SAP partnership agreements and describe the exact clauses in these partnership agreements in the article How to Best Understand the Pitfalls of Vendor Partnership with SAP. When SAP came up with one of the most asinine marketing campaigns — call Run Simple, every single consulting firm at SAPPHIRE had some variation of “Run Simple” marketing at their booth. Was this a conspiracy, or just the ordinary coordination between SAP and their partner community? Is it a conspiracy to state that SAP is in contact with their consulting firms and that they coordinate sales together? Does this qualify as requiring the wearing of a tinfoil hat, or is it a well-known reality?

The Limits of What Paul Hardy is Willing to Discuss

If Paul Hardy would like to provide evidence that this is not true, he should do so. However, we bet that Paul will not delve into this topic in much depth. He won’t describe how Deloitte and IBM and others lie along with SAP or how SAP consultants function as parrots What is the Difference Between an SAP Consulting Company and a Parrot on HANA? This is because Paul is himself part of this ecosystem. He will present no evidence that any of this is true, and instead uses the term “conspiracy theory” to keep from having to present evidence.

Secondly, look at this article Paul wrote, which can be seen at this link Reason Not to Move to S/4HANA.

Paul had to include humor because Paul fears what would happen if he wrote an entirely honest piece without it to make the “pill go down easier.” On repeated points, Paul comes close to calling out SAP as lying but then declines to do so. This is the person who should be calling out other people who do provide the full story for pointing out that they do provide the full story. Readers won’t find the type of tap dancing around criticism of SAP that Paul Hardy will perform.

Now let us get into the meat of Paul’s claims.

Paul Hardy on Brightwork’s Analysis of HANA Being Contradictory

Some of the accusations are contradictory – for example he both accuses Hasso Plattner of designing a rubbish database and at the same time claims Hasso did not design it all, but acquired it from a mysterious un-named company.

HANA is a rubbish database, but Paul cannot find anywhere where I claimed Hasso Plattner did not set its early design parameters. And he certainly did use not only TREK and P*time, but when I wrote that it was prior to the Teradata lawsuit, and Teradata has since accused them of stealing their IP. I have since come around to thinking they in part did do this. And SAP has also been further backward engineering Oracle as I covered in the article Did SAP Just Reinvent the Wheel with HANA?

However, all of these things are not contradictory. Apparently, Paul in an ABAP-er, which means the idea that multiple inputs go into something should not be lost on Paul. This is a contradiction made up in Paul’s mind, and it is entirely an inaccurate depiction of my research conclusion. If Paul did not spend a sufficient amount of time reading my material, I can see how Paul might make this error — but his later accusations are more inaccurate.

As for Paul’s claim that I stated a HANA database runs just the same speed or slower than a traditional disk-based one — we can guarantee that Paul can’t find anywhere that I wrote this.

The performance issue has to do with the column design of HANA being lower in performance for things like TP and batch jobs like MRP — which is covered in this article why HANA is a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.

Paul Hardy on Brightwork Stating that Code Pushdown or Stored Procedures Don’t Speed Performance

In addition some of the “facts” can be checked against reality e.g. the claim that an in-memory HANA database runs just the same speed or slower than a traditional disk based one. There are many organisations out there that have moved to a HANA database and they have all seen improvements, albeit not the over-stated claims made by SAP marketing, but improvements nonetheless. In regard to pushing code down to the database, once again, it is possible to verify this by doing an experiment where you write two versions of a query, one with code pushdown, and one without, and see which runs faster. Then it becomes a straight yes/no rather than a matter of guesswork and speculation.

The statements that some companies have seen improvements by moving to HANA entirely leaves out the effect of the larger hardware. Again, as a person who is technical, it should not be lost on Paul that if the hardware is far larger, the same two things are not being compared. I covered this in the article How Much of Performance is HANA? And Paul understates how much the performance has lagged the over the top marketing.

Furthermore, some companies have installed HANA and seen either no improvement or a performance decline — if the application is not 100% analytics. And in every single case, the price of the instance (from pre to post HANA) increases.

On the topic pushing code down to the database running faster, and the idea that I oppose this conclusion — again, I never said this and would never say this. It is well known that stored procedures increase performance. But this has negatives, which includes both vendor lock-in and technical debt. Paul is asserting that I don’t know something I do know and what I am saying things I never said.

On Brightwork Being Inaccurate in SAP Predictions

As for your assertion that I have been predicting things for years that keep not happening, I never stated that SAP would ditch HANA. I stated that SAP’s will reduce their emphasis on HANA as I covered in the article HANA’s Time in the Sun Has Finally Come to an End, and that SAP will have to reverse course for S/4HANA on HANA as I covered in the article Why SAP Will Have to Backtrack on S/4HANA on HANA.

That says nothing about “ditching” HANA.

SAP has reduced their emphasis on SAP, first it switched to Leonardo, and now the emphasis is Experience Management. They have not yet reversed course on S/4HANA locked to HANA. However, overall, my predictions on HANA have been quite accurate. More accurate than Gartner, Deloitte, Forrester, etc. I include John Appleby’s accuracy on HANA by comparison in the article How John Appleby Was So Wrong About His HANA Predictions.

Paul Hardy seems to like making up his own reality. We tried to project what Paul probably thinks our workplace looks like, and we came up with this.

Paul thinks we work out of a giant mushroom. This estimate is about as accurate as anything else Paul has said about Brightwork Research & Analysis or my work.

Conclusion

From Paul Hardy’s descriptions, I don’t recognize my research. And it seems like Paul lacks familiarity with the material produced by Brightwork. Paul has created his own alternate universe where he states things that Brightwork never published — apparently so these imaginary items can be more effectively critiqued.

Paul Hardy’s statements are so inaccurate that he is either lying or has problems with reading comprehension.

Paul Hardy receives a 0 out of 10 for accuracy in his comments about Brightwork’s positions and conclusions.

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

SAP and Qualtrics CEOs Making Repeatedly False Statements

Executive Summary

  • SAP produced the following video where both the CEO of SAP and Qualtrics make numerous false statements.
  • We analyze this video for accuracy.

Introduction

The inaccuracies come fast and furious in this video. Let us review each statement made for accuracy.

The Video

SAP Marketing Fact Check

Bill McDermott’s First Quote

This is an honor to team up with Ryan Smith, a great CEO, and an inspirational leader.

Qualtrics has been a hyper-aggressive sales organization that is strongly based upon a culture of fear, which is why Qualtrics normally oversells its product. I am not able to find references to Ryan Smith being inspirational.

Ryan Smith’s First Quote

This is a once in a generation opportunity. We will change the whole face of enterprise technology with this combination.

This seems to reflect the opportunity to combined Qualtrics and SAP. But there was no need to have SAP acquire Qualtrics to accomplish this. Qualtrics surveys are taken from the web — they don’t have anything to do with SAP. You can create a survey that will be on any topic.

Bill McDermott’s Second Quote

SAP is the fastest growing cloud company in the large scale business software industry. Qualtrics is the fastest growing business software company in the experience management space. If you combine those two forces you have a juggernaut of cloud growth.

SAP is not only not the fastest growing cloud company in the large scale business software industry, it has very little cloud growth — unless you cloud acquisitions, which tend to shrink after acquired by SAP. McDermott is clearly including acquisitions, but even still — it would be difficult to come anywhere near either AWS or Azure’s growth.

As for the second part of the quote — it is unclear why buying Qualtrics through SAP is better than just using Qualtrics, or in fact, using some other survey software totally unrelated to Qualtrics.

Ryan Smith’s Second Quote

There are two types of data. There is operational data, which is telling you what is going on and what just happened. These are your analytics, these are you CRM product, this is your HCM product. Then you have experience data which allows us to get human sentiment in the moment. To understand the why. How someone feels. SAP owns the operation systems from end to end. We own the experience systems from end to end. The ability to combine those and have one single view will transform the way we even think about CRM as we know it.

This is apparently the talking point of the overall video, however, it is unclear why this is true.

  1. There is not some well-known segmentation between survey data and “operational” data.
  2. Analytics are not simply performed on “operational data.” Qualtrics itself has an analytics dashboard on its surveys. Experience data (that is just survey data) is not any different than CRM or HCM data. It is simply the data recorded by that system. The “whys” are asked all the time in all of the different systems. Survey data does not have a monopoly on the question of why.
  3. SAP does not own operation systems end to end. SAP works along with legacy systems and third-party systems. There is no customer I have ever seen that only uses SAP. This is a complete myth that is a received opinion by Ryan Smith who has been spending too much time listening to SAP resources.
  4. Survey data and “operational” data does not need to be combined. It is, for instance, difficult to combine inventory records with a survey on what a customer thought about the item. This is one of several falsehoods all contained in a very small number of sentences.

Bill McDermott’s Third Quote

We want to be the jet fuel that propels them to 193 countries with the biggest business software sales go to market force in the world. In 25 industries, small, medium and large alike. Every customer should know that X data and O data is together now.

Yes, Bill McDermott would like to sell Qualtrics, as they just purchased Qualtrics. SAP has a large sales force, but it is not the biggest. Oracle’s is certainly bigger. And there might be others like Microsoft that are bigger still.

The second statement is pure nonsense. “Operational” data and survey data is not any more “together” than before the acquisition.

Ryan Smith’s Third Quote

We are fired up. Today is a new beginning and with all of the resources from SAP we are super excited for that.

Ryan Smith and his family pulled $3 billion out of the acquisition, so with such amazing wealth, they are no doubt incredibly excited. Anyone who had equity is super excited. But many Qualtrics employees that did not have equity and now have to deal with SAP management and increased bureaucracy probably would have preferred to stay independent.

Bill McDermott’s Fourth Quote

And the loyalty effect is what the experience management of Qualtrics and the operational data of SAP drive. So X data, experience, O data, what is going on in the operations. Put that together and you can inspire everyone in the company to take care of everyone outside of the company.

This seems to be a repeat of what Ryan Smith said previously. We are entirely unconvinced that this X data and O data dichotomy is anything at all.

Ryan Smith’s Fourth Quote

I could not be more excited to work with Bill McDermott and all of the SAP family. The Qualtrics family is exceptional and we are going to do something legendary.

We can guarantee that it won’t be legendary. None of SAP’s acquisitions are much more than disappointing. But it is unclear if Ryan Smith will even stick around. Billionaires tend to like to work for themselves. Again, there is really nothing going on with this acquisition. There is no strategic overlap between these two vendors, and Qualtrics is a small company that will have a negligible on the SAP monster.

Conclusion

This video receives a 0 out of 10 for accuracy.

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

Does SAP’s Experience Management Make People Happy?

Executive Summary

  • SAP produced the following video which proposes their experience management makes the customer happy.
  • How accurate is this proposal?

Introduction

SAP’s argument here is that SAP Experience Management immediately leads to companies making their customers very happy. There are several questions here.

  1. SAP implements Experience Management for their customers, so are SAP customers “very happy?”
  2. SAP intends its customers to use Experience Management to make their own customers “very happy.” Is there evidence this is true?

The Video

SAP Marketing Fact Check

Having worked on SAP projects for decades and now receiving data points from all over the globe on SAP project status, I can say that SAP customers do not feel this way about SAP. I would say very happy would be zero and five percent, and there are probably close to 35% that are quite unhappy or close to enraged. A great number are moderately dissatisfied. The only individuals that are happy with SAP are SAP consultants and people that make money off of SAP.

If this ad were accurate, it would show Clive Owen frowning with the dogs occasionally biting him. The person washing his hair would be very happy — because they are making money from SAP. Deloitte and Infosys are very very very happy. Overjoyed actually. The customer of these firms — not so much.

Now to SAP’s point, does SAP “Experience Management” allow SAP customers to make them exceptionally happy? It’s difficult even to tell what EM is. Its seems to be Qualtrics, but simply taking surveys will not make customers happy. Doing something about it would. But SAP has had dissatisfied customers for quite some time, and have done very little about it. They prefer to focus on their own happiness.

This advertisement fails the reality check.

Conclusion

This video receives a 0 out of 10 for accuracy.

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

Why Analysts Do Not Ask Challenging Questions on SAP’s Quarterly Calls

Executive Summary

  • The quarterly analyst calls held by SAP are known to have very easy or compliant questions.
  • We provide an explanation for why this is the case.

Introduction

For years we have read the quarterly SAP calls with a furrowed brow at the questions asked by the Wall Street analysts. We think we now have a reason for these questions.

The Lack of Context Regarding Quarterly Calls

Quarterly call transcripts are published in various media outlets. However, there is normally little to no context surrounding the call. A subsegment of executives from SAP are introduced, and then the analysts are listed. After that point, the call commences. However, the question as to why these analysts and why these firms are included in the call is not documented or otherwise explained in the call. The distinct impression is given that SAP is releasing information and that the analysts are there to question SAP.

The following is a list of all of the analysts on a quarterly call, and whether the firm the analyst works for has a position in SAP stock, and how high each of these entities ranks in the list of SAP shareholders.

Financial Analysts Versus SAP Stock Holders

 
Financial Entity
In the Top 120 Institutional Stock Holders
Rank of Institutional Investor
1Platinum Asset Management
No
2Wells Fargo Securities, LLC
Yes
12
3Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Yes
5
4vercore ISI
No
5JP Morgan
No
6Royal Bank of Canada
Yes
20
7UBS Limited
Yes
23
8Citi Investment Research
Yes
14
9Exane BNP Paribhas
No
10Deutsche Bank
Yes
36
11Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Yes
8
12JMP Securities
No

Who Are Major SAP Shareholders?

We checked the entities against the top 120 institutional shareholders of SAP. And as you can see, most of the entities are major shareholders of SAP stock.

For example, Bank of America holds roughly $350 million of SAP stock. Lets us imagine that you owned $350 million in stock of SAP and were invited on the quarterly call. How likely would you be to ask challenging questions?

The rest of the entities are also probably shareholders, but we did not check that far down on the list.

Conclusion

As shareholders, it is unlikely that the analysts are authorized to ask any controversial questions. The firm already has a large position in the stock, and they want that stock to go up.

This miscommunicates the intent of the call.

If the analysts that ask questions are part of institutions that already have a large position in the stock, then the analyst call is rigged. And the nature of the call is miscommunicated to readers. These analysts on the call are not analysts — they are stock promoters.

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

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

How SAP Will Gaslight You When Their Software Does Not Work as Promised

Executive Summary

  • SAP and SAP consulting firms have a distinct way of blaming their clients when their oversold software fails to match promises.
  • We cover the specific arguments used by SAP.

Introduction

SAP resources sometimes get quite incensed by the research we do here at Brightwork. We analyze the quotes from one such SAP resource.

Tell Customers They Are Not Following SAP “Best Practices”

One of the reasons that SAP comes up with is that the company is not following best practices, and all best practices are contained within their software. Any business process/standard functionality that is not leveraged within the application, is by definition not meeting SAP’s best practices, and therefore that must be the reasons for the project. SAP makes this conjecture without ever proving that SAP software does, in fact, contain best practices. We cover how SAP uses the argument around best practices, and how they are often confused by the definition of best practices in the article The Evidence for SAP Best Practices Claims, and how SAP uses the concept of best practices a type of mind control in the article How SAP Uses Best Practices to Control the Implementation.

Tell Customers That All of Their Problems are Unique

A second argument used by SAP and their consulting partners is by telling you that all other customers are happy with the software. I have often arrived on SAP projects trying to recover an SAP module and I am surprised to find that that client is never informed that all other clients that use the same functionality have similar problems. One example of this is how the SAP optimizer does not work, as I covered in the article The Problem with SNP Optimizer Flow Control, and in the article Experiences with Dynamic or Extended Safety Stock. I will have often written articles 6 or 7 years prior to arriving at a client that calls out the issue in SAP, and the client is still unaware of the issue because they are being consistently misinformed by SAP and their consulting partners. At Brightwork, we continue to receive problems that come in from S/4HANA and HANA implementations as well as others. These problems are never published, and we have to be careful in publishing them as they must be annonymized, or they would get the source in trouble. One example of this is described in the article A HANA Performance and HANA on Azure Case Study.

The big illusion that SAP proposes is that customers that use SAP are very content. As a person who has been on SAP projects since the late 1990s, I can say definitively this is not true. Executives, who don’t have to deal with SAP or work on SAP are happy to have SAP on their resumes, but SAP customers are by in large, not happy places. The best description of SAP clients is that they feel restricted by the system.

Tell the Customer That Their Business Users Do Not Understand the Solution

What is curious about this argument is that it is identical to the argument that VW used for over a year to dispute the emission test results from the University of West Virginia. VW continually told them..

“your measurements are wrong”

and

“you don’t understand our technology.”

The Centrality of Gaslighting to SAP’s Strategy in Customer Management

This is called gaslighting. You attempt to get the receiver of the message to think they are crazy. This is such an important part of SAP’s overall business strategy, it important to delve into the definition.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.[1][2]

Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term originated from the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which the gas-fueled lights in a character’s home are dimmed when he turns the attic lights brighter while he searches the attic at night. He convinces his wife that she is imagining the change. The term has been used in clinical and research literature,[3][4] as well as in political commentary.” – Wikipedia

Psychology Today has the following quotes on how to identify a person who is gaslighting you.

“You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.” – Psychology Today

SAP constantly lies. In fact, we rate SAP as our least honest vendor as we cover in the article How to Understand the Honest Vendor Ratings – SAP.

“You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.” – Psychology Today

We constantly play back false statements made by SAP to SAP resources and they are very quick to non-observe the statement or change the subject. SAP resources will call out senior executives, particularly in public.

“Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter. ” – Psychology Today

SAP has been lying since its inception as a company, and we have tracked their accuracy over the past ten years in the article A Study into SAP’s Accuracy. However, this inaccuracy does not seem to be observed by customers to use in interpreting SAP’s proposals.

A perfect example of this was found in a recent comment from an SAP consultant, around something called the sap optimizer. SAP consultants, like this one, tell their clients that the problem lies not with the optimizer but lies with the business. This position is held even though I have yet come across an instance where the optimizer worked. I have troubleshot clients where the business was blamed for the optimizer issues, and years after I left the project (often with many of my recommendations ignored) the client was still trying to get the optimizer to work.

Here is a direct quotation.

I worked on using SNP optimizer, the main problem was not the tool or the maths within ILOG algorithms, the real problem was getting business to understand optimisation With optimization 2+ 2 can be 4 but also 3,8 or 4,2 . If you lucky you have business familiar with operational research concept most still in the MRP mindset. Business also have difficulty merging granularity: medium term planning to operational planning– Pino Villa

And this is the problem generally with SAP consultants is that they are not reliable as to the reasons of why SAP does not work as it should work. We covered in the article SAP Platinum Consultants and Objectivity on Difficult Issues with SAP, that the most experienced consultants that work for SAP. However, there they do not have the authority to actually tell the customer the truth.

In fact, it is exceedingly difficult to find SAP consultants that will tell you anything, but the standard SAP marketing and sales position.

Looking for Independent Views on SAP?

One may search, but SAP remotely controls nearly all of the information sources on SAP. Review the following providers of information to see their dependence or independence from 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

Conclusion

As the least honest vendor in our ratings (the second being Oracle), SAP has continual large discrepancies between what SAP is sold to do and what SAP can actually do. In order to bridge this gap, SAP uses a number of techniques and arguments that pivot the topic away from SAP’s misrepresentations of its software. It is 100% supported in this behavior through a compliant consulting ecosystem who have the same financial incentives to prevent the customer from using the evidence in front of them that they have been misled.

The Problem: The Accuracy of Large SAP Consulting Firms

After enough of these experiences, combined with reading many case studies, I have concluded that the major consulting companies do not factor implement-ability into their sales process. They approach the sales process like a newborn baby, assuming that everything will work perfectly if they can just “get the work.”

Most senior members or partners I have worked with don’t live in a plane of reality. They exist in a fantasyland which puts the sale above all else. The best salespeople tend to make the prospect the most excited, and this is more effective when the salesperson/partner is themselves deluded. The partner/salesperson then transfer this delusion to the prospect. This is my hypothesis as to why the best salespeople tend to be the most divorced from reality and end up with the most blown up projects. 

Being Part of the Solution: Fact-Checking SAP and Consulting Firms

We offer fact-checking services that are entirely research-based and that can stop inaccurate information dead in its tracks.

SAP and the consulting firms rely on providing information without any fact-checking entity to validate the information they provide. And companies play into their hands by not having the information they provide evaluated by a research based entity. That is the service we provide.

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.

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References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting

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

Is It True That SAP Performs Tests Before Selling Software?

Executive Summary

  • SAP makes the claim that they support testing to prevent customers from buying software that is not a good fit.
  • We verify this claim for accuracy.

Introduction

SAP has a long history of forcing ill-fitting applications into their customers. This is enabled by SAP’s large compliant ecosystem that normally repeats whatever SAP says, and denigrates all other applications. However, Luca Massasso of BizBrain Technologies (and ex-SAP employee), a consulting firm focused on APO and IBP, states that this is not the case.

Setup

These comments we made on an article by Lora Cecere titled Where There is Smoke There is Fire. Luca stated that SAP was adopting Lora Cecere’s focus on testing before making purchases.

Luca’s Initial Comment on Lora’s article.

Hi Lora, I was part of the team that developed SAP Supply Network Collaboration and since 2013 I dedicate my time to the implementation of SAP IBP (before “S&OP on HANA”). One thing I can confirm to you: the vast majority of customers has changed habit and they are fully following your advice: “Test technology and ensure business results. And, in the process, trust but verify.” In these recent years we have been involved in more than 40 evaluations and sales cycles and pretty much all of them required a Proof-of-concept or a small pilot. This happened for customers of almost any size. Perhaps additionally, it would make sense to mention that in the test you recommend, not much emphasis goes into the aspect of modeling the integration of Supply Chain Planning and Supply Chain Execution. On this topic, I have seen but also heard (2nd hand) many horror stories of allegedly better solutions than SAP, where the integration of planning into SAP ECC was a failure. I think your point captures what we have so fare experienced in the IBP market, but I would additionally humbly recommend to look at the business process as a whole and understand that Operations team need a working end-to-end solution. Thanks for your articles, always a pleasure to read.

My Response

“This is an interesting attempt to embrace Lora’s message and perform damage control. Contrary to your statement, SAP entirely opposes Lora’s advice on testing. SAP habitually and as a strategy circumvents testing. If APO had ever been testing, almost no one would have purchased it. This is why SAP can’t really move to the cloud, the cloud is about testing, and SAP is about making based upon giving out goodies to executives, getting SAP consulting partners to lie about the SAP applications and false promises by SAP sales. It is the exact opposite of a testing approach. If you like testing, we have a large number of articles that test functionality at brightworkresearch.com/sapplanning/.

But you probably won’t want to read the test results. If the testing of APO were a movie, it would fall into the horror genre.  If SAP sees a deal moving away from them based upon testing, they will put pressure at the tippy top to get the executives to ignore the test results, to ignore the desire of the users. Unless you get to see how the sausage is made, it is difficult to appreciate how corrupt SAP is. SAP is all about the money, they will jam the least appropriate solutions into customers by any means necessary.”

Luca’s Response

“Your statements oversimplify the reality. I am in this business almost three decades and money is pervasive in so many dimensions including the ones that claim independence by statute. I respect different viewpoints but again reality had been and is that in my direct experience every company evaluating sap ibp has worked exercises to evaluate the software and put it to the test. For confidentiality reasons i cannot name them on a social platform, but they are among the largest sap customers and the most important companies in the world. The exercise led to conversation with SAP development on roadmaps where gaps were identified. In some cases IBP has been successfully deployed (microsoft is a public reference for example or Prestige Brands or Nature’s Way on smaller size organizations). Where i saw problems with the delivery was when the consulting force was not proficient on what the tool can’t or can do. There are plenty of examples where previous apo customers selected (or did not select) ibp based on poc/prototypes and pilots. We can look back at apo, but ignoring this and writing that sap sales cycles are not subject to testing is in my experience factually inaccurate and depending on statistics probably wrong.”

My Response

I only want to address the last part of your answer. So I want to distinguish what you consider testing and what I consider testing. Earlier you commented about POCs. This gives me the impression that you think a POC is a test. POCs do not meet my definition of a test. The test must be performed by an entity that does not care what the results of the test are. That is, they are indifferent. I have worked on pre-sales engagements and received heavy pressure from sales to rig the results to make the SAP software look it was a perfect fit for the requirements when it wasn’t. When we would get a POC, it was good because the client would pay, but sales entirely controlled the process. The pressure is to make the sale, not to show anything realistic. I don’t think other vendors work much differently in this regard, but SAP, because of its enormous influence and partner network leads all other vendors in being able to push their applications and databases into situations for which they are a poor fit.

SAP nor can any SAP consulting partner perform any test or POC. The reason is apparent, a test must have no bias for the test to succeed or to fail. So, under your definition of a test, tests are sometimes performed during the sales process (although no often). SAP and most other vendors will oppose any independent party being included in the process. I can communicate that I have extensive experience in testing solutions, and I run a research entity and I am constantly evaluating software and recording accuracy of things like SAP’s statements to clients. I would provide an entirely unbiased test result. I can guarantee you; I will never receive a call from SAP (or from Oracle or from IBM) to ever perform tests where the client pays. SAP, Oracle or IBM would actively fight my entry or the entry of any testing entity that is not controlled by them. Also, I can promise, any test I perform will not match with the statements made about sales to the prospect.

Conclusion

The following comment is Luca’s strongest point.

“We can look back at apo, but ignoring this and writing that sap sales cycles are not subject to testing is in my experience factually inaccurate and depending on statistics probably wrong.”

However, again, a POC run by SAP is not a test. Secondly the fact that APO does not win every single competition is not evidence that testing is performed prior to APO being purchased. And this generalizes far beyond APO. SAP applications are routinely purchased without an independent entity performing the tests. Biased SAP consultants and SAP like to stated that a POC that they control is a test, when it isn’t.

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 SAP Content

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  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

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References

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:article:8658798029287428681/?commentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(article%3A8658798029287428681%2C6543793631919251456)&replyUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(article%3A8658798029287428681%2C6544519168807448577)

The Long Term Problems with SAP and Integration

Executive Summary

  • SAP makes bold statements about application integration that assumes SAP’s integration competence.
  • We review SAP’s history with integration.

Introduction

In its history, SAP has not been successful in creating integration applications. SAP PO is not well regarded and would be a distant second to the top integration tools in the field and they do not sell integration applications like SAP PO to anyone but pre-existing SAP accounts, usually under the concept that SAP PO is naturally designed to integrate to SAP. And for many types of integration work using data transformation scrips and other specialized integration scripts are often preferable over packaged solutions. SAP proposes that integration should be performed in ABAP, or that SAP tools should be used to create ABAP, but there are other superior languages for interface development.

Yet, nowhere is this observed in any of the SAP documentation. As an example, ABAP is not used outside of SAP customers for interface development. Languages like AWK are quite frequently used for transformation because they are naturally designed for this task.

Following SAP’s Integration Advice?

If SAP’s applications are not used in an area, and the area is programming intensive (which integration is), there is little reason to follow SAP’s advice when it comes to what language to use, or what tools to use. The entire logic for following SAP’s directives is if one is using their packaged applications.

Previous Claims Made in the Application Integration Market

Overall the integration market has for several decades been marked by claims around ease of integration brought by various products. Most of those claims have proven to not be true. That is the movement has been from using programming to using applications to perform the integration.

In more cases than not, this has proven to be negative for integration productivity and even transparency. It is apparent from SAP’s documentation and other marketing literature that SAP is not interpreting their attempts to productize integration in a way that allows them to understand why they are not making progress in the integration space. This gets into the topic of the non-programming integration paradigm.

The Non-Programming Integration Paradigm

If we follow the evolution of SAP’s integration solutions, SAP has attempted to move from programming paradigm to non-programming. This is when writing of explicit code was replaced with some transactions for customization.

A few examples are as follows:

 

  • 2005: SAP renamed XI to PI (Process Integration) due to modification of licensing policy, so that clients paid for traffic, but not per instance. Also, SAP extended the number of use cases in marketing materials. In the same year, SAP acquired LightHammer. LightHammer had and their integration solution aimed at the manufacturing domain. Later this solution was renamed to SAP MII, that was delivered with SAP PCo (Plant Connectivity). An additional service aimed at industrial support interfaces of data exchange like OPC. SAP MII was also built as a wrapper on top of C/C++ libraries.
  • 2011: SAP PI was renamed to SAP PO (Process Orchestration). However, it was more marketing rebranding than a technology update. This rename did not change SAP PO’s prospects in the market with PO declining in popularity further since 2011.
  • 2016: SAP presents its Cloud Platform Integration & Hybris Data Hub. The SAP Cloud Platform (renamed from SAP HCP) is designed to perform integration with remote SAP System. The Hybris Data Hub is aimed at integration the integration of SAP’s Hybris e-commerce application with a short number of functions in SAP ERP like material master data, stock value and prices.

______________________________

Document Note *This is a truncated history, but it should be sufficient to illustrate the pattern we are describing.

______________________________

All of the technologies listed in the previous section are based on C/C++ library that wrapped with Java library that wrapped with one of listed integration tool (much like an onion).

  • SAP has historically benefited from a large pool of specialized workers that are able to configure systems without knowing how to code. This is the standard SAP “functional consultant” as opposed to a “technical consultant.”
  • Meanwhile, vendors ranging from Oracle to Axapta to Baan frequently struggle with a shortage of well qualified IT resources to build their ecosystems. SAP easily attracted non-technical resources and converted them to consultants. Doing this they were able to develop a very large number of resources who were ready to set up all business logic in SPRO/configuration without writing a single line of code with most of these resources working in SAP consulting partners or as independent consultants rather than working for SAP itself.
  • The approach to making the configuration available within an application reduced the learning curve for configuring SAP and opened the area to more resources.

Issues with The Non-Programming Approach for Integration

  • In the mid-2000s, this might be proposed to be a reasonable trade-off (although we would have disagreed with it even then). However, at that point, there was little to integrate to most of SAP systems. However, by the end of the 2000s, we already had a massive offering of different technologies and concepts that is still growing. And these are becoming more available due to cloud service providers. This allows companies to experiment at low effort in a way that was previously not possible.
  • In recent years, we see the growth of solutions aimed at integration with SAP ERP to extend its planning, reporting or any other abilities. There has also been the massively increased popularity of mobile and web-based solutions that also aimed to be integrated to SAP.

Getting to the Heart of the Problem with SAP’s Integration Strategy

  • The biggest problem of current integration products from SAP is that SAP provides an inappropriate model of integration.
  • Features that made SAP XI/PI/PO accessible to SAP consultants are now doing them a disservice.
  • SAP PO was not designed to work with most of the contemporary technologies and protocols.

We put AIF and BRF in a similar category with SAP PO, which is why, in addition to the products not matching the SAP pronouncements about them,

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 SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

https://aiche.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/btm2.10084

How Realistic are SAP’s Claims Around SAP AIF BRF?

Executive Summary

  • SAP AIF and BRF are proposed by SAP to be important integration products.
  • We review these two applications.

Introduction

AIF follows an approach of promoting itself as a product that is visible to business users. This is a commonly presented concept, but something important to remember is that it often tends to be less feasible than is presented. Integration is complex and many software vendors in the space compete on describing how integration can be made more simple.

The following quotation is a typical example of such a claim.

“BRF+ allows for rules to be modeled in an intuitive way that gives greater flexibility and visibility to the Business users who are not developers with training in ABAP. It is like giving more technical power to the Business users.”

And while a nice idea, this must be demonstrated to be true through use of the application rather than accepting the claim, and we will cover further on whether BRF actually does this.

AIF (Application Integration Framework)

What is AIF Fundamentally?

  • AIF is a development environment for interfaces that provides a UI, which ostensibly allows the business to perform the integration.
  • AIF is presented as capable of managing IDocs, Web services, CIF, qRFC, tRFC, files, batch input and “more.” Furthermore, SAP proposes that HANA will optimize the integration. This last statement is a problem because databases don’t speed adapters. Therefore it can be disregarded.

SAP proposes that AIF is lower in technical support and that the alert monitoring is automated, and that data quality improves because the business user is validating the information.

How Easy it AIF for a Business User to Use?

A primary selling point of AIF is that it is straightforward for a business user to use, which leads to greater transparency in the integration solution that is created. The concept is presented by SAP is that AIF is so easy to use that users will create or partially created the interface. This would be a highly unusual thing to happen on any IT project, and therefore it is a subject of great interest.

To test this hypothesis promoted by SAP, let us cycle through screenshots of the AIF application.

In this screen the initial database is created, and its technical configuration is set. This includes everything from the file structure to whether the file should be stored in the database.

Now within the Easy Access menu, the user would go to the File Upload transaction.

Here the user can review the file that is about to be uploaded to SAP.

Here the user is sent a message to their Outlook in the event of a problem with the interface that they created. This is part of the error management that would be a responsibility that would migrate to the business user.

This is the Interface Monitor screen where the various interfaces can be reviewed for their progress. Notice the red and green statuses on the various interfaces.

This is where the user can go to serialize an object.

Serialization is where the interface can be setup so that it will run in a repeated fashion into the future. It is not a term used in among business users.

This screen shows the key fields for the Serialization Object, which is the Material.

In this screen all the errors are published. This way the user can view these errors and then rectify them. This is a common log screen in SAP. However, this is nearly always used by IT, not by a business user.

This example shows that one of the errors was due to a unit of measure inconsistency. However, by changing the unit of measure, the error would be fixed.

Back at the Interface Monitor, notice that several of the interfaces that were in the red status are now green.

Now that we have reviewed the AIF, let us review the BRF.

BRF (Business Rule Framework)

What is BRF Fundamentally?

BRF is ostensibly a business mapping application.

However, how BRF interrelates to AIF is not always clear in the messaging from SAP. SAP has, up to the time of the publication of this paper, provided little explanation for how AIF and BRF differ from one another. But it is not difficult to see how the two products are set apart from one another.

BRF would apply IF/THEN type of logic that would control the data movement and timing as part of the interface.

Interestingly BRF is missing in the following graphic from SAP.

In some slides, the overall integration process appears completed without BRF. Why is BRF not included in this graphic? Are business rules unnecessary in this interface?

AIF is shown as the functional portion of the interface with SAP PO being the technical portion.

How Easy is the BRF to Use?

BRF is supposed to be even closer to the business user and extremely easy for them to use.

Let us review its likelihood of being used by a user next.

Here an application of PO Approval is being created.

The ruse is named, and declared within a new application.

Now the search criteria are set.

Notice that a user would be required to create an expression for a table operation, which will be to create a new table.

The name of the table will be TABMAT.

Now the settings for the table will be created.

And the example finishes with creating a function which will connect to the table which is part of the application of PO Approval.

Conclusion on User Friendly Claims of AIF and BRF

At Brightwork we have reviewed interface tools over the years. Our observation is that AIF and BRF appear like applications which would normally be used by IT. They have no noticeable features which differentiate them from a purely IT tools. In fact, it appears as if both application standard integration tools.

 

The proposals around how business users would gravitate to the tools seem to be manufactured from on the part of what customers would like to hear. It is very appealing to believe that a technical tool can be easily used by business users, but is typically not true. And it also does not appear to be true in this case. BRF is a tool that is not differentiated from other tools used by technical users. The distinction only exists in the descriptions of BRF as offered by SAP.

It is difficult to see business users reading and comprehending this book on BRF. We were only able to read the portions we tested because of our background working in IT. To get a business user to read and comprehend this book would take a lengthy process whereby the resource was essentially converted into an IT resource. The book is filled with references to how BRF can be used by business users, but then when the topic of using BRF is addressed, the book switches back to being a normal integration book, which would be read by people in IT.

Brightwork’s Prediction of the Business User Adoption of AIF/BRF

  • Our prediction is that AIF and BRF will have no discernable uptake on the part of business users.
  • Secondly, we disagree with the overall presentation by SAP as it appears inconsistent with our experiences in integration. Integration is really too complicated of a topic to thrust onto business users. Business users can describe the scenario to an interface developer (hopefully creating a specification), but this nearly always a combination of people with different skills. In all of our clients, we have yet to see a company where business users are involved solely in interface development.

AIF/BRF Positioned with An Argument Against Specialization

In the book Leveraging SAP BRFplus in Big Data Scenarios, the authors state the following contrary view.

“In essence, this simply means ignoring the artificial boundary between (emphasis added) roles of the functional and the technical consultants. Why should only one of them think about the solution from the business perspective? And why should the other use only technological means to implement the solution? Is it not plausible that the ABAP developer can do a better job by having a deeper understanding of the business requirement or the business problem that needs a solution?”

This logic is that there does not need to be specialization between functional and technical resources. If this held true, then all business users could to technical tasks, and all IT resources could do technical tasks. After all, the book proposes that this is possible. The book asks us to not limit people by merely relying upon their domain expertise. The author in this book implies the distinction is artificial. However, in our experience, it is entirely real. Furthermore, but trying to make an integration application that would be usable by a business user, the application would not be designed to be fully leveraged by a person who is a specialist in interface development.

We will address this issue later in the analysis, as it is a frequent weakness with SAP integration products, is currently (in our view) a negative trend promoted through products like OutSystems which promote the concept of “low code” (that is graphical coding environments that lessen the amount of code written). The reason this is negative is that visual programming has not proven to be effective versus normal programming. And a programming tool like OutSystems has a narrow sweet spot, which is primarily UI development. A visual low code environment cannot and will not replace most of the programming languages or standard approaches.

Let us review the hypothetical possibility versus the realized outcomes of the SAP claims regarding the ability of business users to adopt AIF/BRF.

  • It is hypothetically possible to make a UI so advanced that the interface development would be more or less intuitive for the business user. Hypothetically possible (that is we can’t rule it out), but it is unlikely because of the nature of the task that integration environments must be able to perform.
  • Interfaces have many implications. These include database implications, as well as implications or independencies with other interfaces. These are interfaces that may be in a separate domain from the business user. A business uses is not well positioned to understand the overall implications of the impact of a single interface, even if the goal of creating a complete business uses friendly user interface were to be met. And of course, in our view SAP has come nowhere close to meeting this goal with AIF or BRF.

Business Rules and BRF

If SAP were to read this analysis, they might state that the critique of the product completely misses the point on how BRF can create rules. Throughout the BRF documentation, the emphasis on how rules can be created that enhance the capabilities at SAP’s customers.

Taken from SAP’s document Business Rule Framework plus (BRFplus). The document almost makes rules out to be something quite new in integration.

 

However, there is nothing new about “rules.” If this had not been the case, then integrations could not have been performed for all these years. The selling point of BRF is if SAP had created an application that would have simplified the creation of rules.

And in our estimation, it has not.

In this way, SAP is selling a pipe dream to its customers. SAP appears to have put almost all of its effort into explaining why AIF/BRF are so useable by business users (in marketing literature, in books, in sales presentations, etc..). Yet they have put very little effort into making the products match these claims.

It may be desirable, although probably not realistic to have business users performing interface development. But there are also many distinct disadvantages which none of SAP’s documentation in this area explains. The evidence is clear from reviewing the products that whatever the feasibility of the goal, AIF/BRF are not the tools to accomplish this goal.

The Accuracy of Claims About AIF/BRF from 2012

SAP has a number of blog postings on AIF and BRF that essentially declare that SAP has met the goal of making a totally business user-friendly integration application.

The following quotation is one such example.

However as SAP and organizations moved more towards an SOA centric approach to interface applications and do business with their partners there seemed to be no genuine tools for business users to correct errors in the system. SAP then introduced Forward Error Handling (FEH) and Error and Conflict Handler (ECH). This was aimed at empowering end users who had the business and process knowledge but limited technical know how to correct errors on their end. FEH was based on the concept of Forward Error Recovery

 SAP AIF is a product from SAP’s CDP group (Custom Development Projects) that enables organizations to achieve all this and more. It is essentially a framework that provides a business user (who may or may not be technology savvy) tools to easily monitor errors and rectify them.” – blogs.sap.com[1]

There are many problems with this quotation, which is now (at the time of this article you are reading being published) 3 month short of 7 years old.

  • First, SAP proposed their adoption of SOA (service-oriented architecture, which was a hot topic in the 2006 to 2010 timeframe), but SAP never followed through on this, and SOA died with SAP. SAP would never have supported SOA as it would open up their applications to competition, in effect commoditizing them – even if SOA had been technically feasible. Therefore, this statement by the author is inaccurate. And it was inaccurate when it was made back in 2011. This is because the bloom was off the SOA rose even at that point. Secondly, SOA has little to do with AIF/BRF. This falls into an argumentative strategy often used by SAP to propose that “things are changing,” and the proposer will sometimes grasp for something topical, although unrelated.
  • Second, the statement is made that the tool “provides a business uses tools to easily monitor errors and rectify them.” However, this looks like anything but the case.
  • Third, this article was written almost seven years ago, but AIF/BRF has seen so little adoption that it is not only is it uncommon for SAP consultants to have heard of the product, but it is a very rarely used product. Why? If the advantages to AIF/BRF as SAP claims, the product should be quite successful in the present day.

Are User Interfaces Always Better than Reviewing Programs for Integration?

With AIF/BRF SAP proposes that user interfaces for integration are superior to reviewing programs. This is the logic for why AIF/BRF would be effective for the user. However, the first assumption, that business users will use AIF/BRF is untrue.

This means (in our estimation) that AIF/BRF would simply become a tool used by IT. However, SAP’s PO (previously named XI and the PI) does not have sufficient interface productivity. Yet SAP PO is a user interface driven integration tool.

This gets to a basic misunderstanding of what makes an integration tool auditable and high in productivity, and this is also obscured by the SAP literature.

For more technical resources, programs can be highly effective, and more auditable than going through a user interface. What seems like a disadvantage to a non-technical user, is actually an advantage to someone who can read code.

The following is some sample code written in the R programming language which sums and bucketizes data.

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References

https://aiche.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/btm2.10084

[1] https://blogs.sap.com/2012/04/03/sap-aif-so-what-is-it-all-about/