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.


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
2Wells Fargo Securities, LLC
3Bank of America Merrill Lynch
4vercore ISI
5JP Morgan
6Royal Bank of Canada
7UBS Limited
8Citi Investment Research
9Exane BNP Paribhas
10Deutsche Bank
11Goldman Sachs Group Inc
12JMP Securities

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.


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.

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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.


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”


“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.

Coverage that Reinforces SAP Marketing?
Financially Independent from SAP?


As the least honest vendor in our ratings, 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 it 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.

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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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.


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.


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.


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.

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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.


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

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  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

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    • 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.



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.


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

Should Oracle Create the Larry Ellison Institute to Counter the Hasso Plattner Institute?

Executive Summary

  • The Hasso Plattner Insitute is routinely used to support SAP’s marketing contentions.
  • How valid is the concept of vendor-controlled institutes on university campuses?


Hasso Plattner created the Hasso Plattner Institute years ago at the University of Potsdam in Germany. Through this institute, he now is a “professor of computer science” even though he has no degrees in computer science. He also has a fake or honorary PhD from the University of Potsdam.

This means that the University of Potsdam is one of the only universities in the world to have a professor “working” there who’s PhD is honorary. In the article How Accurate Was Hasso Plattner About SAP HANA Publications? we pointed out that Hasso Plattner has moved on to what appears to be the final stage of academic falsification by to pointing to fictitious peer-reviewed research to support various contentions around HANA, that were reviewed by his Hasso Plattner Institute.

Hasso claimed that 200+ peer-reviewed publications supported the statistics and assertions made in this slide. 

How Oracle Can Copy the HPI with the Larry Ellison Institute

What is the point of an entity connected to an academic institution that is used to generate PR and marketing support for a software vendor? What I recommend is that Larry Ellison start up the Larry Ellison Institute (LEI), and it with enough money, Larry Ellison can also become a professor of computer science and can then refer to fictitious 200+ peer-reviewed studies about the autonomous database and 200+ peer-reviewed studies how you can cut your AWS costs in half if you use Oracle as we covered in Calling Total BS on Oracle’s “Cut Your AWS Bill in Half”​ Guarantee.

The HPI is a degree-conferring entity (the University of Potsdam confers the degree as they have the charter), that can only publish research that supports SAP’s marketing contentions. AWS can then start up the Jeff Besoz Institute (JBI) that says Larry Ellison is wrong…..and so on. We could have a conflicted “institute” for every significant entity in software, all pretending to be part of the academic system, all pointing to fictitious research.

Theranos and Faking Peer-Reviewed Studies

Here is the published paper that describes how the Theranos blood testing machine worked.

Notice that the paper is focused on a product rather than performing a test. This paper is a fraud.

Look at all of those parts! Theranos spent 13 years and $900 million on private investment on a machine that any person well versed in the topic of blood diagnostics could have known would not work before the company was started. But with a failing machine, Theranos needed some academic type of authority. And hence this paper was published. Elizabeth Holmes and those that wrote this study knew that it was a misrepresentation, but they went ahead and published it, and then referred to it later. 

The blood machine never worked, but this paper was repeatedly referred to by Theranos to investors and the press. I believe this journal where the article was published is a journal posing as an academic journal and will publish anything for money.

Some journals act as parasites on the academic publication system by pretending to be part of the system.


Financial conflicts ruin research. The more software vendors that create institutes associated with universities, the less reliable will be the information produced by the university system. The experiences with medical research have clearly demonstrated that corporate funding of education and research is entirely corrosive to objectivity. We now have a medical system in the US that is in great part controlled by pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.

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SAPPHIRE 2019: Why Do SAP and North Korea Look Like They Use the Same Set Designer?

Executive Summary

  • Powerful entities often try to impress their followers with overwhelming set design.
  • We illustrate the parallels between SAP and North Korea and others.


In reviewing Bill McDermott’s speech at SAPPHIRE 2019, we noticed something curious about the set design.

SAPPHIRE’s 2019 Jumbotron

SAPPHIRE has always been a very “Vegas” style conference much more focused on sales than communicating accurate information. However, this year’s central presentation area of the conference has taken it up several notches.

This “Jumbotron” at SAPPHIRE this year seems a bit out of hand. It completely dwarfs the speaker. 

The Point of Creating Awe

Is this Jumbotron actually this size to communicate information? Previous SAPPHIREs did not have this size of a display, and the information on them was communicated quite well.

The Reason for this Jumbotron

This Jumbotron appears to have been introduced to overwhelm the audience. At SAPPHIRE, the presentations are tedious and mostly filled with inaccurate information, but the displays are massive.

Historical Overwhelming Symbology and Displays

One display or background that immediately came to mind when seeing this SAPPHIRE Jumbotron was the following backdrop.

This is the backdrop to the North Korean Worker’s Party. Notice the similar extreme exaggeration in scale. Observe the size of the man standing to the right, versus the size of the backdrop. There is no practical reason for this scale except to communicate the power of the entity. 

This is an image of the same meeting hall but is a side shot. Because of the perspective, it makes it look smaller than in the front on shot above. However, this side shot illustrates how impractically the room is designed. The (most likely) junior members of the Worker’s Party are so so far away from Kim Jong-Un, that they can’t see him (at first we assumed that they were looking at monitors built into the desks, but this side view indicates that the only have note pads). If most of the Worker’s Party officials can’t see the speaker, why are they up on the stage, and why is the stage so long?

A Presentation Setting as a Movie Set

All of this illustrates that the room is not designed for useful interaction, but is instead designed to show the importance of the proceedings to the audience. The speaker presents and everyone else listens. Something else which is telling is that every single Worker Party member seeks to be taking notes at the same time. To anyone who has taken notes, this is unusual if it just happened to be randomly the case when the photo was taken, and it indicates that the profuse note taking is performed to show deference to Kim Jong-Un, so they are “taking notes” at all times.

In North Korea, there is no “fact checking.” Anyone who disagrees with the state is sent, often with their extended family to a Stalinesque prison camp. Therefore, the regime never has to worry about having anything it says being verified. Much of North Korean displays (pictography, monuments, news reporting) is about exalting the state.

How Does North Korea Compare with the Netherlands in Set Design?

The Dutch have a highly practical culture, a cultural disdain for hierarchy and unlike North Korea, good outcomes from their government. Given this, and given the fact that the Netherlands is far more wealthy than North Korea, and thus has far more resources to spend on government buildings, what does the Dutch Parliament look like?

The Dutch apparently decided to have their Parliament furnished by Ikea! This level of expense is roughly approximate to many large conference rooms at well-endowed universities. Although if one takes into account the upper deck, the overall room is a bit larger. Observe the background. There is no Dutch flag, no photographs of past Prime Ministers. In fact, if you magically appeared in this room, until someone begins speaking Dutch, you would not know where you are. 

Other Examples of Overwhelming Set Design

Long before SAP or North Korea, the Catholic Church has been overwhelming its followers with displays of ostentatiousness. If one travels to various smaller towns in Europe, it is curious to find that even today the largest or at least most prominent buildings are churches.

And at the “headquarters” of Catholicism, the set design is quite extreme.

Very nice, but what is the point of this type of expense?

The Vatican is extremely wealthy, and is, in fact, its own mini-sovereign country cut out of Italy. A major percentage of the Catholic Church’s overall income over the centuries has gone into buildings and set design and has ended up in the Bank of the Vatican. Buildings and set design are critical to helping to raise more funding. 

What is the objective of this “Lord of the Rings” set design of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican than to overwhelm the followers? Many people who have visited St. Peter’s Basilica stated that it reaffirmed their belief. 

The effect of not only the Vatican structures but of churches generally cannot be understated historically. This is expressed in the following quotation from Rick Steves.

“Art was a tool of the church, both to teach and to terrify. Imagine, once a week, illiterate peasants would walk into a church and be wonderstruck by stained glass, towering columns, and glittering glories. Church art gave them a glimpse of the amazing heaven that awaited them and reward only the faithful, and the terrible hell that awaited those that disobeyed.”

Great Buildings and Set Design as a Replacement for Logic and Evidence

When it comes to answering questions about their history or their statements around Catholicism, the Catholic Church has no interest in answering pointed questions. They would rather “let their buildings do the talking” (where they are very strong) rather than with their logic or evidence (where they are very weak). As with North Korea, there was never any fact checking accepted and was generally dealt with by declaring the fact checker a “blasphemer.” Today being labelled a blasphemer to some that are lucky to live in countries that do not have blasphemy laws, but that is certainly not everyone, and in the past blasphemy was used quite extensively to eliminate any fact-checking.

The same holds true for North Korea. The North Korean regime cannot be justified in terms of the outcomes for its citizens, and therefore they rely upon a combination of their control over media, their ability to eliminate people that are dissidents, and they move to make arguments on the basis of their buildings and monuments. That is they use physical props to provide evidence of their power. North Korea’s political regime and the Catholic Church are unified in their support for the concept that their followers should not question, but should have faith. SAP and SAP resources also share this perspective. And as the edifices employed by entities grow, their degree of separation from reality also correspondingly increases, and the degree to which they tolerate fact checking decreases.


This week’s attendees at SAPPHIRE and SAP customers generally should observe that having a very large Jumbotron or a large conference hall, or a giant North Korean flag in the background or a beautiful basilica does not make what the entity says true.

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The Castel de Sant Angelo in Rome. All of these impressive edifices are further enhanced through lighting. 

Are SAP’s Layoffs Due to an Impressive Transformation?

Executive Summary

  • SAP’s has come up with a logic for key layoffs in areas where their products are failing.
  • We analyze the evidence for SAP’s logic.


After we wrote our analysis of SAP’s layoffs in the articles SAP’s Layoffs and a Brightwork Warning on HANA, and What Is Different About the Q1 2019 SAP and Oracle Layoffs, we found the article Five Questions with SAP CTO Juergen Mueller on the SAP website that provided SAP’s explanations for the website.

Let us see how SAP’s explanations hold up.

The Quotations

An Impressive Transformation?

“SAP News recently had the opportunity to speak with Juergen Mueller, chief technology officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, on some of the important topics facing SAP and its customers and partners.

Here is a transcript of the conversation.

Q: Thanks, Juergen, for making the time. It’s obvious to most that SAP continues a rather dramatic and impressive transformation. There’s always speculation about what every announcement means about the company’s priorities. What’s your take on where SAP is today?

A: Personally, I believe SAP is in a very exciting position today. By any measure, we have assembled a comprehensive end-to-end portfolio of business solutions. We serve large and small customers in every industry in nearly every country. The key for us right now is to show two things: consistency and innovation. Innovation is an obvious requirement. I also stress consistency because just last year we introduced a significant strategy to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise.

Our customers need to see us continue to focus on this strategy, especially showing that our analytics and machine learning capabilities are infused into all of our business applications. The key here needs to be business value. What can a customer that runs SAP do as an intelligent enterprise that they could not do before? How can the SAP user community be leaders in their companies by connecting the operations to the experiences? I believe we have a strong technology story to tell, but this will only resonate if we help customers demonstrate the business value they achieve with SAP. There are so many of these stories to tell and we need to constantly put the customer success first beyond our own soundbites.”

Our Analysis

SAP has layoffs in many of the areas in which SAP has been unsuccessful. SAP Cloud, Leonardo, HANA, etc.. If the demand had materialized for the offerings, the layoffs would not have been necessary. However, SAP makes a claim that we have not seen made anywhere, which is that the layoffs are not layoffs or a sign of weakness in the layoff areas, but instead is an “impressive transformation.” The term digital transformation, which is a fake term that we covered in the article The Problem with the Term Digital Transformation, has led to the trend of companies calling any change or any setback as a “transformation.” SAP also claims that this is “obvious to most.”

Well, it is not obvious to us, and we can’t even recall a single comment putting this spin on the layoffs. Rather than being obvious, it is entirely counter to our conclusion about the layoffs. And this is PR. PR is how you try to get ahead of a story and try to shape the narrative around the story.

Mueller then begins his answer with sort of boilerplate motivational speak. And he immediately begins by emphasizing the importance of innovation. What is curious is that the layoffs themselves show how lacking in innovation SAP has been. The evidence for innovation at SAP is extremely weak.

Here are a few examples.

  • We have documented how HANA, a database that is highly touted by SAP for innovation was based upon two acquisitions (acquisitions are not innovation) and how SAP has simply backward engineered other databases as covered in the article Did SAP Just Reinvent the Wheel with HANA?
  • There is also a complete lack of innovation in SAP Cloud, which will now simply be a system to upcharge customers for AWS/GCP/Azure as we covered in the article How to Understand SAP’s Upcharge as a Service Cloud.
  • S/4HANA is not at all innovative. It is a technical “rejiggering” of ECC’s backend, that increasingly looks like it will be implemented on premises without Fiori.

Then Mueller goes on to discuss machine learning, which many vendors also claim, but is really just a bubble that will be popping shortly. If you look at SAP’s machine learning claims, you find that SAP has simply added some standard machine learning algorithms that it had nothing to do with developing to a few of its products, but it charges for them when they have been available for free for decades. We covered this topic in the article How Real is the SAP Machine Learning and Data Science Story? Any customer who is purchasing “machine learning” from SAP should contact us because you can get everything SAP is selling in ML for free. You just need to know how look for those items online.

It seems that SAP’s definition of innovation in ML is to sell publicly available ML algorithms.

Overall the first answer by Mueller is more of a diversion away from the question rather than any type of observation about the layoffs — which again, are not called layoffs in the question, but an “impressive transformation.” As in Orwell’s 1984, War is Peace.

Do the Layoffs in HANA Point to Problems with HANA?

“Q: One quick follow up on your statement about SAP’s technology story. There is some speculation in a few places about the future of SAP HANA. You just became the leader of all SAP technology and innovation a few weeks ago. What is the future of SAP HANA?

A: To be candid, anyone who questions our commitment to SAP HANA doesn’t understand the strategy of SAP. We just named one of our brightest engineering leaders, Gerrit Kazmaier, to oversee the roadmap for SAP HANA data management.

The reality is that SAP HANA has been wildly successful for SAP and for our customers, with more than 28,000 customers on the SAP HANA platform. Almost all of our SAP applications, including SAP SuccessFactors solutions, make use of SAP HANA now. This turns it into one of the largest scale — if not the largest scale — enterprise application database.

Given the scale it has achieved already, we look to constantly build on the past success by introducing new SAP HANA offerings. We will make some major announcements about SAP HANA at SAPPHIRE NOW in a few weeks.

Honestly, I read some of these articles and they are basing assumptions about SAP HANA on a restructuring program that was announced earlier this year. I don’t want to minimize the anxiety that a restructuring creates for employees who are impacted. In cases where individuals make comments about their feelings or they question specific decisions, this is understandable. Personally, my hope is that SAP or our partners retain as many of these colleagues as possible. The facts about the strategy itself are what I have explained here. The restructuring is designed to invest more of our resources in areas where SAP customers tell us they expect us to invest. New SAP HANA innovation is one of those key priority areas.”

Our Analysis

Well first off, it is unclear who actually understands SAP’s strategy, as the following graphic explains.

Blaming people for not understanding what SAP’s “strategy” is, is not a true critique if the strategy is not knowable. This is a constant feature of SAP messaging, that if their behaviour appears erratic or illogical, the fault lies with people that “don’t understand ABC or XYZ. Sometimes things just don’t make any sense. 

Loosely stated, it seems to be “get involved in a lot of stuff.”

As we have covered in articles like Why Did SAP Stop Reporting HANA Numbers After 2015?, HANA’s growth plateaued in 2015 when they switched the narrative to S/4HANA. HANA is an extremely expensive database with no differentiation in the market How Were SAP’s Claims True if HANA is Now Not a Differentiator?

SAP Can Not Afford to Continue to Invest What it Has in HANA

This means that SAP is not receiving a return for continuing to make HANA the primary marketing tentpole that it once was.

We covered in the article HANA’s Time in the Sun Has Finally Come to an End in mid-2018 that SAP would reduce its marketing and development and overall investment in HANA because it did not make sense to continue to do so. Now, less than a year later, SAP is doing what we predicted they would do, but we have been told to please not emphasize this fact. Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys and Gartner, along with every HANA resource would rather not have it published that all the information they have been telling their customers about HANA has been false.

Therefore, while HANA is not going to be discontinued as a product, it is not going to receive the same emphasis or internal resources as it did in the past.

Meuller tells several lies in his response.

  • The fact that SAP promoted a new individual to a position in HANA does not mean anything. It has not mattered who had that position in the past because HANA’s design objectives are illogical because they were initially set by Hasso Plattner who was unqualified to design a database.
  • HANA is not live at 28,000 companies. It is owned as a license by that many companies. HANA does not have more than roughly 8,000 live customers. How do we know? Well, SAP’s stopped reporting live customers in 2015 for a reason.

iDataLabs makes its money by selling data to salespeople. Unlike SAP, they have no incentive to overestimate or underestimate HANA’s usage. This means that even with all of SAP’s marketing push since 2011, SAP was not able to make HANA anything more than a niche database. 

  • SuccessFactors is on HANA?: SAP customers are not live on SuccessFactors on HANA. SAP is still testing an internal version of SuccessFactors on HANA as we covered in the article Did SAP Move SuccessFactors to HANA?
  • Analysis of Layoffs is Too Narrow?: Our analysis, which Mueller may be referring to as our articles on SAP’s layoffs have been very widely read, and we know they have been discussed within SAP as they did not provide the desired spin on the layoffs, is not simply based upon the layoffs alone. They are based upon field reports related to HANA and based upon years of research into HANA.
  • SAP Does Not Think Enough of HANA’s Prospects to Maintain a Large Contingent of HANA Resources, but Thinks Their Consulting Partners Should?: There is little reason to retain a good part of the HANA resources if HANA is never going to meet the projections that the company had for it. Consulting companies keep resources staffed for one reason, to be able to staff those resources. When one of the top resources in HANA in SAP, Thomas Jung, states that he wants to leave HANA to get “closer to his ABAP roots” that should tell you something about HANA’s future.
  • HANA’s Future Priority?: We can’t predict the exact priority of HANA in the future, but it is going to be reduced.

Do the Layoffs in HANA Point to Problems with Leonardo?

“Q: Another big topic we hear about in some parts of the market is around SAP Leonardo. As this is also part of your portfolio, what do you want people to know about SAP Leonardo? What do customers need to know?

A: Customers need to know that we have amazing engineers who are building more and more use cases with SAP Leonardo technologies embedded in our actual applications. This is what I was saying earlier about putting business value discussion before technology discussion. Look at companies like Pregis in the U.S., which is using SAP Leonardo Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor and analyze its machines. You even see SAP Leonardo Blockchain examples with Bumble Bee Foods tracing tuna from sea to the store shelves.

Machine learning use cases in our applications are expanding rapidly, and their impact can be seen in every industry. In fact, we have 100 unique machine learning-enabled scenarios, embedded in every SAP application, from SAP Fieldglass to SAP S/4HANA.

Another example of how customers benefit from intelligent technologies is BNP Paribas: The banking group was able to reduce customer on-boarding process for Hello bank!, its online bank, from 25 minutes to less than five minutes by using intelligent robotic process automation.

Maybe the one thing I wish we had done differently when we began promoting SAP Leonardo is to make the argument clearer to our customers that if you run SAP applications, you are going to benefit from SAP Leonardo innovation. This is a fundamental piece of our intelligent enterprise strategy and it’s only going to accelerate.”

Our Analysis

Mueller is really lying in this explanation. We covered in the article Our 2019 Observation: SAP Leonardo is Now Dead, that Leonardo will disappear as a product. SAP cannot have success with Leonardo because IoT is based upon open source components (which SAP is never successful with), and IoT is not inherently tied to the ERP system, which is how SAP sells all non-ERP applications into their account base. SAP can normally get a few companies to invest in something like Leonardo, but these are really just custom development projects. Information from those that have worked with Leonardo state that it is not a product. SAP will create a custom solution for you if you pay them. But it is not a packaged solution.

Machine learning is not expanding in SAP.

Mueller’s entire response is false. The reason the layoffs hit Leonardo is that Leonardo is not relevant for customers, they are not buying, and therefore Leonardo resources are not needed.

What is SAP’s Biggest Challenge?

Q: What is SAP’s biggest challenge and its biggest opportunity?

A: Our biggest challenge is to stay focused on our customers. It is so tempting in the technology industry to get carried away with buzzwords and “new breakthroughs.” The reality is that we are here to help companies extract value from technology, which is very different than simply celebrating every new idea. Customers expect us to be innovative, but also to protect them by making technology scalable in the global economy.

Our biggest opportunity is to connect enterprise technology to the individual, whether that’s the end consumer or the employee. This is the one boundary of enterprise technology that hasn’t been crossed. I am very confident we can do it and that we can improve people’s lives in the process. This is why you have only just begun to hear about the importance of experience data in addition to operational data.”

Our Analysis

SAP is all about buzzwords. Meuller used numerous buzzwords such as machine learning, IoT, blockchain, etc.. And these are buzzwords that have just about nothing to do with SAP’s business.

If you are using the term blockchain to fill the gaps in your life or to make yourself seem more interesting than you are. If so you need to talk to your doctor as to why you feel the need to use this term.

So it is odd to read a few paragraphs later about how it is tempting to get carried away with buzzwords. A major problem with Mueller’s predecessor, Bjorn Goerke.

The things Bjorn Goerke said did not come true and were often misleading. Who attended a session with Goerke and said “yes I am getting the real story here.” The misinformation in this interview with Ray Wang comes fast and hard. Entirely left out of this discussion is how SAP is marking up cloud services by between 3x and 10x. 

Virtually nothing that Bernd Leukert said would happen came true. SAP has a distinct shortage of people in top positions who will tell the truth. If all the top people are good for is repeating false information, it will be impossible for SAP to make the changes they need to in order to improve. 

Now both Leukert and Goerke are gone from SAP, however, Mueller does not seem like he will be saying anything that is true during his tenure. Then Mueller will be gone in a few years, replaced by another practicer of make-believe. These characters all say about the same things, so there might be an AI robot who is actually writing these comments, and Leukert and Goerke, et al are simply hired actors. At this point who can tell the difference.

The rest of Mueller’s quote does not give us anything to analyze because it is lacking in any content.


A number of SAP resources critiqued our analysis of SAP’s layoffs. A month ago we were told by many SAP resources not to comment on the layoffs. That it was “inappropriate.” However, Mueller now has commented on the layoffs, and it is doubtful any SAP resources will state that it was inappropriate for Mueller to comment. The concept here being that only SAP should be allowed to comment on their layoffs and that all of those that work in SAP or research SAP should look to one source for what the layoffs mean — which is SAP’s PR department. However, unlike any of the PR controlled explanation provided in this article from SAP our analysis actually made sense.

This explanation offered by Meuller makes no sense and is pure PR fiddle-faddle. But maybe this is what SAP resources want, a completely inert and false explanation that makes SAP look as good as possible. If so, this is the article to read if one wants to learn absolutely nothing about the real reasons for the layoffs.

However, if you work in SAP, listening to Mueller’s explanation is a bad thing, because it will prevent you from making adjustments. SAP is making these adjustments but does not want the outside world to be able to understand what they mean.

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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Similarities Between Thomas Edison, Elizabeth Holmes and Hasso Plattner

Executive Summary

  • After analyzing SAP more than any other research entity, we have come to some important conclusions regarding Hasso Plattner that are not generally known.


Companies tend to centralize their coverage around a person who is put forward by the company without checking if the person put forward is actually the individual who is the primary innovator. In this article, we will draw parallels between Thomas Edison, Elizabeth Holmes and Hasso Plattner.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is often considered one of the most prolific inventors in the world, but this conclusion can only be come to if one does not research Thomas Edison’s background. Thomas Edison took credit for making improvements in a light bulb, but this was due to a US patent of British inventory Joseph Swann. Thomas Edison ran a lab where he as a normal course of behaviour exploited other inventors that were drawn to his Menlo Park, NJ facility due to Edison’s frequent and high profile coverage in the press at the time. Just the number of patents that Edison accumulated, which was 1093, should raise suspicions as to whether these patents were Edison’s from those that he employed.

Thomas Edison was a minor technological talent, but a major marketing talent. And he determined what image the public was looking for, and created it.

“The people wanted a man of singular genius and competence; a man whose ideas and will shaped the world around him; a face that they could put on progress and American technological dominance. And Edison obliged. He made himself into this admirable, heroic figure, at least in appearance, and the people ate it up.” – QualityLogoProducts

It was Thomas Edison’s savvy control over media that caused so many budding scientists to reach out to Thomas Edison and allowed him to steal the inventions of so many people. Thomas Edison has all of these people working in his lab (even Henry Ford worked for Edison) but when it came to taking credit it was all Thomas Edison, only Thomas Edison was quoted, only Thomas Edison’s name appeared on patents. This was fake. Thomas Edison was not without his talents. For example, he was a fantastic “packager” of innovation, but he was not himself an innovator. Rather this was a role that he played for the media.

Although it is important to point out that taking IP from others, and even the credit is the basic model of companies that deal in IP under the work for hire contracts. This along with exaggerating the IP that one creates is a common feature of private companies. What is curious is that it is allowed for not only for the company to claim the IP, but also for them to claim the credit.

Thomas Edison was presented as the actual person doing the work of invention. This was a media construction. Edison was a promoter posing as an inventor. This might have been the first time he held that lightbulb outside of a photo opportunity that week. Edison had a large pool of low paid employees who were doing the actual work. Let us see Telsa’s view of Edison’s scientific mind. 

““His [Thomas Edison] method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 per cent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense. In view of this, the truly prodigious amount of his actual accomplishments is little short of a miracle.

“Edison was by far the most successful and, probably, the last exponent of the purely empirical method of investigation. Everything he achieved was the result of persistent trials and experiments often performed at random but always attesting extraordinary vigor and resource. Starting from a few known elements, he would make their combinations and permutations, tabulate them and run through the whole list, completing test after test with incredible rapidity until he obtained a clue. His mind was dominated by one idea, to leave no stone unturned, to exhaust every possibility.” ” ― Nikola Tesla

It should be noted that very few inventors would have had the funding and workforce to test so many permutations. Edison’s lab did have a value, which was to refine the inventions of others. This is the general problem with innovation, those with the financial backing are able to take advantage of those that lack those resources.

In the present day, intellectual property attorneys, the cost of litigation, and the need that individuals have for employment all combine to constantly move inventions and innovations from the actual creators to those with more financial resources. History shows that those with more wealth have a strong proclivity to steal intellectual property from those with less wealth. Any person who is reading this and who creates innovations should expect that someone with more resources will attempt to steal their intellectual property from them. The better the intellectual property the stronger the likelihood that this will occur. We have met a number of people in our professional experience who generally believe that IP should be stolen from their inventors by any means necessary.

Let us move to our second example.

Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos

Elizabeth Holmes named her blood testing device Edison, which was, of course, a nod to Thomas Edison. She also was a big fan of Steve Jobs, another promoter who was more known for his marketing and image making savvy than his technology knowledge. For Elizabeth Holmes skill set, Holmes picked her inspirational icons well.

Elizabeth Holmes is now known as a fraud, but for over 10 years, Elizabeth Holmes raised $900 million through essentially the strength of her vision, her personality, her connections and her story.

How to Make Zero Progress After 13 Years and $900 Million: Start With Not Knowing Anything

Theranos is an interesting case study in that the company made zero progress towards anything because the original design objectives did not make any sense. This is because Elizabeth had only completed a few college courses in biology before starting Theranos, she did not know enough to know what she did not know.

There are specific reasons why the current blood analysis system is set up as it is, with blood drawn from the vein rather than from a fingerprick. If Elizabeth had studied the topic before starting her company, she would have figured out the reasons.

The entire story around Theranos was fake. Elizabeth Holmes did not have any knowledge to accomplish what she intended she said she would accomplish, and once she began running the company, she did no technical work on Edison but simply hired people with technical training to accomplish what was an impossible goal. However, if her employees had somehow succeeded in doing 100% of the work to get Edison to work, there is little doubt that Holmes would have taken full credit for the accomplishment and media outlets would have supported her in her claim. 

It is easy to be optimistic when you don’t know the subject matter. 

Elizabeth Holmes placed her name on a patent in 2003 that it is now widely thought should never have been granted. As is pointed out by the Above the Law.

‘“Holmes’s 2003 application was not a ‘real’ invention in any meaningful sense . . . Indeed, it’s fair to say that Holmes’s first patent application was little more than aspirational science fiction written by an eager undergraduate.” Nazer goes on to note that the patent examiner for one of Holmes’s patents (U.S. Patent No. 7,291,497) did review it closely (for technical issues), but “[w]hat the examiner did not do . . . was ask whether Holmes’s ‘invention’ actually worked.”  Holmes was granted a patent for an idea, but not one that could actually be practiced.” Unfortunately, the patent examination system in the United States is overburdened and under-resourced. As I noted previously, “USPTO today is overwhelmed with patent applications and, as a result, patent examiners do not have adequate time or resources to thoroughly examine the applications. The agency receives more than 600,000 patent applications per year and patent holders are constantly pressuring for quicker deliberation in approving their applications . . . Because of the high volume of applications an examiner must process . . . it has been estimated that 70 percent of examiners have less time than necessary to thoroughly complete an examination.” Not only do patent examiners have inadequate time to determine whether prior art exists (remember: patents must reach a “novelty” threshold), but they certainly aren’t equipped to determine whether the invention actually works (meeting a “utility” requirement that the invention is useful and an “enablement” requirement that would allow a person of ordinary skill in the art to be able to build and use the invention; this is part of the patent bargain that grants a limited-time monopoly, but ultimately serves the public good).”

And this following quotation from Ars Technica is truly jaw-dropping.

“The USPTO generally does a terrible job of ensuring that applications meet the utility and enablement standards. In practice, unless an application claims an obviously impossible device (like a perpetual motion machine), the examiner will not question whether it works. To some extent, this is understandable. Examiners only have a few hours to review each application, and they can hardly be expected to run complex experiments to check the applicants’ claims. But this practice can lead to serious errors.

Yet more than a decade after Holmes’ first patent application, Theranos had still not managed to build a reliable blood-testing device. By then the USPTO had granted it hundreds of patents. Holmes had been constructing a fantasy world from the minute she started writing her first application, and the agency was perfectly happy to play along.”

How the US’s Broken Patent System (in part) Allowed Elizabeth Holmes to Start Theranos

That patent was used to trick investors, along with Elizabeth Holmes other skills in persuasion, to investing in Theranos. The assumption was that a patent from the US patent office has been investigated. But as explained this is was a faulty assumption. And Theranos an example of many people who did not do sufficient research before they invested, or repeated what Elizabeth Holmes said to them. Theranos received investments from a wide array of powerful individuals ranging from Rupert Murdock to Larry Ellison.

There are several commonalities that we can see between Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes.

  1. Exaggerating their role in the technical work of invention.
  2. A corresponding high degree of reliance upon uncredited workers who do the actual work.
  3. A strong ability to obtain media coverage.

In terms of the environment, there is another clear parallel which applies to both Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes even though they were separated by roughly 130 years and even though the media systems in the late 1800s, an environment dominated by print media and with no television or Internet, was quite different from the media environment of the 2010s.

  1. Media entities looking for a story which oversimplifies the innovation process and centralizes it to a single person. It should be noted that both Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes were able to pull this off without any education in their fields (although Elizabeth Holmes had the prestige of having dropped out of Stanford).
  2. Media entities that do an insufficient amount of fact-checking.
  3. Media entities which quickly referred to other media entities, assuming that they had performed the background research and therefore they did not have to.

The separation of these two individuals by such a long period of time indicates to us that this is a constant feature of our media system.

And now we turn to Hasso Plattner.

Hasso Plattner

We have spent hundreds of hours analyzing the writing of Hasso Plattner, his books, comments on blogs, his SAPPHIRE videos and so on. And from this analysis, we have found some interesting parallels to Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes.

Through our analysis of various SAP topics, we have repeatedly run into inaccurate features around Hasso Plattner. It is impossible to separate Hasso Plattner from SAP. SAP put significant resources into promotion Hasso Plattner. SAP created a false backstory around HANA as we covered in the article Did Hasso Plattner and His PhD Students Invent HANA? SAP would have to have known that this story was made up. Hasso Plattner is repeatedly introduced as a “Dr Hasso Plattner” even though SAP certainly knows that Hasso Plattner only has honorary doctorates as we covered in Does SAP’s Hasso Plattner Have a PhD?

Hasso has used his phoney professorship at an institute called the Hasso Plattner Institute he started on the campus of the University of Potsdam in Germany to claim that he is “unbiased” in his claims around HANA, as can be seen from the following quotation.

“please stick to the facts and be willing to accept new insights.

i wrote this this blog as a professor of computer science at the university of potsdam and as an adviser in the sap hana project. i am not an employee of sap any more.

any comments are welcome. -hasso plattner”

  • Hasso wrote this comment and apparently claimed that he no longer has any connection to or any of his wealth tied up in SAP. Hasso is now completely independent of SAP, and the HPI is not heavily invested in the HANA storyline?
  • Secondly, how is Hasso Plattner a professor of computer science anywhere? Hasso has no undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science.

Hasso and HANA

HANA clearly demonstrated Hasso Plattner’s lack of technical expertise. Hasso’s books such as “The In Memory Revolution.”

Hasso made enormous errors when “designing HANA.” 

  • HANA was originally designed to have no row oriented tables, and then in SPS08, suddenly what SAP said were not needed (row oriented tables) were added to HANA as we covered in the article How Accurate Was John Appleby on HANA SPS08?
  • Hasso for some reason thought databases could be made zero latency.
  • Hasso thought that all data could or should be loaded into memory, even though only a small fraction of data within a database is normally processed at any one time. Hasso missed the fact that loading such large amounts of data into memory, lead the processor to spike and become overcapacity as we covered in the article How HANA Takes 30 to 40 Times the Memory of Other Databases.

The list of design errors made by Hasso on HANA are their own article, but as with Elizabeth Holmes, Hasso never put the work into sufficiently study databases to understand what was possible. Like Elizabeth Holmes, he was a promoter, who was pretending to be an inventor.

Hasso and ERP

Hasso Plattner and SAP have expanded into many software categories since the late 1990s, but SAP has not been effective in developing applications in any of them. SAP’s most popular internally developed application outside of their flagship ERP system is BW or the business warehouse. However, it is one of our lowest rated applications as we covered in the article Could SAP DP or BW Survive as Independent Products from SAP?

The common idea is that SAP may have very poor products outside of their ERP system, but their ERP system is very “solid.” However, there is a problem with this storyline as well. When we reviewed the academic literature on the ROI of ERP systems we found that for decades academic studies have not been able to find any ROI on ERP systems. We cover this topic in detail in the book The Real Story Book on ERP. And SAP has the most expensive ERP implementations in the industry. For details, see our article How to Understand The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP. Because of this high average cost of SAP ERP implementations, this means that in the vast majority of cases SAP customers lost money from their SAP ERP implementations. The information regarding the lack of ROI from ERP systems is publicly available, yet there has been no financial incentive to inform buyers of this reality, because the industry, which is made up of vendors, consulting firms, IT analysts and media entities are financially incentivized to continue to push ERP systems.

But the situation is actually worse than this.

The reason is that by implementing SAP ERP systems, SAP customers often ended up purchasing other systems that connected to the ERP system that was always a step down from the ERP system. And the ROI from those connected systems (BW, APO, MDM, PLM, etc..) were significantly negative. This would have to mean that every customer that purchased SAP was actually worse off than if they had never purchased anything from SAP.


Like Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes, Hasso Plattner is not an innovator, he is a promoter who has been positioned by SAP as a person of substance when he isn’t. SAP has done this because it fits within the media’s interest in finding “one person” who they can say is the brains behind a company.

Hasso Plattner greatly reduced his credibility with us the more we analyzed his writing over the years. Hasso not only can’t write, but he is also incapable of writing in a structured manner. He is also quite mentally lazy and does not research the items he speaks about before he speaks or writes.

All of this means that Hasso Plattner has been visiting companies and has made impressions on people based upon his fame and people have been looking for answers from a person who does not have any. He is not what SAP says he is, what the media says he is, or what SAP resources or what executives think he is. What Hasso Plattner is, is a highly effective promoter. But his ability to effectively promote is based upon a false background as to his technical knowledge.

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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Should Brightwork Research & Analysis Sell Out to SAP?

Executive Summary

  • It has been proposed that SAP should not be critiqued and that all information about SAP should come from SAP funded sources.
  • We ask the question if readers prefer that we sell out to SAP.


Our last article on HANA titled SAP’s Layoffs and a Brightwork Warning on HANA created quite a tizzy in the SAP community. With many SAP resources preferring if it has not been written. In this article, we discuss some of the input we received and then open the question of selling out to SAP to a poll that readers can voice their views.

The Consulting, IT Media and Analyst Landscape

In terms of providers of information on SAP, nearly all entities that provide information on SAP receive financial benefits from SAP. In the consulting sphere, this is well known and controls the information or “advice” offered to customers. In the IT media space, through advertisement and paid placement controls the vast majority of entities as we covered in How to Best Understand Control of the SAP on IT Media.

In the IT analyst space, both Gartner and Forrester and directly paid by SAP, and most of the other analysts are also paid by SAP and others both paid and offered up lucrative advisement contracts to the immense SAP customer base. This has produced typically forecastable compliant content. It is perhaps the primary reason SAP is able to distribute so much false information about their products to the market.

The best way to make money in the SAP market is to align with SAP and to deceive your readers or customers.

The Problem with Brightwork Research & Analysis

Our primary problem is that we don’t take income from vendors including SAP, and the second problem is we know SAP quite well, having worked in SAP for decades and producing the most research on SAP. A final problem is that follow a research approach that means we have to follow the evidence down to its conclusion, without worrying about who we contradict or whose feelings might be hurt. This puts us at odds with nearly all of the information providers in the space. And it is why we are not on the approved SAP list of analyst firms that IT media can contact as we covered in How to Become an Approved Analyst for SAP?

Becoming a passive repeater is profitable. Its how most of the information providing entites in SAP make their money. 

Becoming SAP’s Passive Repeater

The best way for Brightwork Research & Analysis to make money is to solicit SAP for funding and become a repeater for their marketing department. This would not only bring in money (we think, we have not reached out to SAP to see what we could get from them, but we do know they pay other information providers in the space), but it would also reduce our work effort. As can be seen from other analysts and media entities that are also paid by SAP, as well as reviewing the SAP consulting company websites it means being able to drop almost all thought altogether. All we need to do is republish SAP’s material on our site — so SAP provides the content!

We covered the topic of how little work ASUG seems to do in writing articles about SAP in the article How ASUG Lost its Way and Sold Out to SAP.

The trick is like ASUG and Forrester and Gartner will be to pretend that the funding by SAP has nothing to do with our SAP marketing-driven content. We can even set up a fake ombudsman as has Gartner as we covered in What is the Difference Between the Gartner Ombudsman and Disclosure.

The benefits should be obvious to anyone.

100% Control Over Information Provided Entities

The message we are getting from many sources that are financially connected to SAP is that there should not be any providers of information on SAP unless that source is financially connected to SAP. And this is also the best way to monetize the research effort that goes into our content (in addition to reducing the research effort considerably.)

Your Chance to Tell Us Your View

So this is where we need the advice of readers as to what to do. Please fill out the poll which can let us know what you think we should do!

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.