Its Official, If You Work for SAP Its Ok to Lie About Having a PhD

Executive Summary

  • Hasso Plattner has been lying about his Ph.D. for decades.
  • However, according to one SAP resource, lying about one’s Ph.D. is not a bad thing.


In our article, Does Hasso Plattner Have a PhD?, we outlined the fact that Hasso’s PhDs are honorary, but are presented as real.

Curiously, we received pushback on this from an SAP consultant.

“You really must have run out of real arguments against SAP in what feels what a personal vendetta? It’s quite simple: If you earn a Doctorate (incl h.c.) from an accredited university, then, in Germany, you can chose to add it to your ID/passport. Many people do and use it as if part of the name -some say not to do so would be uncourteous to the organisation you received an hc from. It is as outdated as are the Sirs in Britain or the bowing angle corresponding to social hierarchy in Japan and if you ask me, whether it adds value: certainly not. There are much higher achievements than Dr. hc or PhD that don’t get the same attention. But it is legal, not fishy at all and in line with normal custom. But really, it’s all a non-issue: someone uses an old fashioned pre-fix to his name. He never claimed to be something he isn’t. If some people thought he has a real PhD, they didn’t buy his software for this reason and he was long past the point, where his academic achievement mattered for career progression. So, what’s the fuzz? On his hon Professorship: he was a visiting professor at my Uni – we learned more from him than from any of the ivory tower products with PhD. Nothing fake about this – he really did it.” – Sven Ringling

Ding Ding Ding!

Sven Ringling gets our Golden Pinocchio Award.


What Sven leaves out of the analysis is why Hasso did it. If it made no difference, why did Hasso present a fictitious Ph.D. as real? No one would do that as honorary doctorates aren’t relevant. He did it for one reason, to borrow from the authority of academia. 

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

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Does SAP’s Hasso Plattner Have a Real PhD?

Executive Summary

  • Hasso Plattner is frequently introduced as Dr. Hasso Plattner.
  • Is Hasso Plattner’s degree anything but honorary?


In a previous article, I questioned whether Hasso Plattner behaved as a Ph.D. The reason being that he is so often divorced from reality. He also does not communicate in a style that is consistent with other Ph.D.’s I know, and I proposed that people who have Ph.D.’s who don’t care what is true, should be required to give those Ph.D.’s back. Since that time someone reached out to me to explain that he did not think Hasso had a real Ph.D.

Searching for Hasso’s P.h.D.

Since I began working in SAP, it had always been generally accepted that Hasso Plattner was  Ph.D. In reference after reference, Hasso is repeatedly referred to as “Dr. Hasso Plattner.” In fact, I was once told to add “Dr.” to Hasso Plattner’s name because if Hasso Plattner had attained a Ph.D., then it was required that I add that to every possible reference. That is not true, but this demonstrates the degree to which the idea that Hasso must have a Ph.D.

However, when I went go and look for Hasso’s Ph.D. I could find no mention of it outside of this quote from Wikipedia.

“Since his retirement from SAP, Plattner has been particularly active as a benefactor in the field of technological research. Media reports have named him one of Germany’s most important private sponsors of scientific research. Plattner received his honorary doctorate in 2002 and his honorary professorship in 2004 from the University of Potsdam. Plattner had also received an honorary doctorate (1990) and an honorary professorship in Information Systems (1994) from the Saarland University, Saarbrücken. The same university named him an honorary senator in 1998.[12]”

So Hasso appears to have two honorary doctorates. Outside of these two honorary doctorates, Hasso does not appear in any other source to have his Ph.D listed. And it is stated as such on his profile, but unless you speak German, most people will not catch it.

H. c mult. translates in English to honorary doctorate, with “mult” standing for multiple honorary doctorates. Therefore Hasso has not only one honorary doctorate but two honorary doctorates. The detail is explained in this section, where it states that he was awarded “honorary doctorates.” But at the end of the profile, it becomes confusing because it states he is a professor at the Hasso Plattner Institute. How can he be a professor if he has no Ph.D. Well, one way is to simply own the school (the HPI is a small branch on the University of Potsdam campus).

Interestingly, I don’t recall anyone observing that Hasso did not have a P.h.D. I was once writing a paper for a company and I wrote “Hasso Plattner” and was told that I needed to change it to “Dr. Hasso Plattner” because “if he earned the degree, then you have to state it.” But how about if the degree is “honorary”

Well then obviously not.

Both Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey have four honorary degrees (so twice as many as Hasso), but I don’t recall anyone referring to Meryl Streep as Prof. Dr. h.c. mult Meryl Streep or Prof. Dr. h.c. mult Oprah Winfrey. This should not need to be explained, but you are not supposed add what amounts to fake degrees to your profile in an attempt to trick people.

How Honorary P.h.D’s Work and Who Gets Them

Now lets us discuss the honorary Ph.D for a moment. Honorary P.h.Ds are given out like candy often for providing a commencement speech. The work involved in getting one is nothing, and they are usually given out to high-profile individuals. There is also an ethic involved with honorary Ph.Ds. That is, you are not supposed to pretend it is a real Ph.D. They are basically a joke Ph.D. Again, honorary Ph.Ds are given to entice celebrities to provide a commencement ceremony speech. A real P.h.D can take 4 years to attain and only about 1 out of 140 people (in the US at least) to attain an undergraduate degree ever attain a Ph.D.

Moreover, this story gets better. This is because Hasso did not stop at pretending to have a P.h.D. He also decided to start an institute at the university close to his personal residence, the University of Potsdam.

However, how can a person who has never completed a Ph.D program start up a pseudo-mini-university? Its all a bit ridiculous.

This is explained in the following quotation from Wikipedia.

“Also in 1998, Plattner founded the Hasso Plattner Institute[3] for software systems engineering based at the University of Potsdam, and in Palo Alto, California, its sole source of funding being the non-profit Hasso Plattner Foundation for Software Systems Engineering. Plattner has pledged €50 million of his personal fortune over a period of 20 years. Since its foundation, Plattner’s commitment to the HPI has quadrupled to over €200 million. He not only fully finances the HPI, but is also actively involved as a director and lecturer in Enterprise Platforms and Integration Concepts.[13]”

Again, the University of Potsdam also conferred upon him one of his honorary degrees. Obviously, the University of Potsdam benefits from having the Hasso Plattner Institute on their campus. Was this one of the motivating factors in conferring an honorary Ph.D. to Hasso Plattner?

A Fictitious Backstory from a Fictitious Ph.D?

The Hasso Plattner Institute is the location of yet another made up story by both Hasso and SAP where they created a deliberately false backstory to make it appear that Hasso and his Ph.D. candidates created a “whole new database,” which I previously covered in Did Hasso Plattner and His Ph.D. Students Invent HANA?

With HANA Hasso showed how lacking in studiousness he was, as one of the major problems with HANA has been that it was designed in great part by Hasso Plattner, and he did not know what he was doing. This constant overestimation of knowledge is consistent with a person who fakes academic credentials.

Later Hasso donated money to Stanford and they created the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. SAP has used this to promote Fiori, repeatedly leveraging the Stanford name. Yet after the institute being created, and all the discussion around Design Thinking (which I covered in the article Does Design Thinking Improve SAP’s Implementation Speed?), the output of Fiori is underwhelming. Once again, having a lot of cash does not translate into knowledge or ability.

Falsified Academic Authority

Hasso, and SAP used his honorary degrees to communicate false authority for over a decade and a half. As a result, almost no one knows Hasso is not a Ph.D.

When My Suspicious About Hasso Were First Triggered

  • I have been reading and analyzing Hasso Plattner’s writing and quotations for years, and find that he constantly lies and constantly pivots between topics which demonstrates an unstructured mind.
  • This is the last person who would make a good Ph.D candidate. This is the writing of a sales promoter, not a scientist.
  • My analysis of Hasso Plattner’s writings is that he works backward from what he wants to be true, and makes up a story to fit the conclusion. That is sales, not academic thinking.
  • I know whenever I read his material or watch his presentations that I can’t trust that any of it is true. Hasso’s books are absolutely punishing to get through because they are filled with so many inaccuracies and they are less “books” then lengthy sales pitches.

Ding Ding Ding

We award Hasso Plattner the Golden Pinocchio Award for claiming to have a real Ph.D when in fact he only holds honorary Ph.D.s. 


This honorary Ph.D issue is another case of both Hasso and SAP using deception to trick customers into thinking that there is some great mind behind SAP. It shows how little Hasso and SAP care about what is true. And the trick worked. It worked on me. I never thought to actually look up Hasso Plattner’s educational credentials.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

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  • Questions About This Area?

    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, tell us your question below.


How to Understand Why SAP Mystifies Topics

Executive Summary

  • SAP shows a pattern of mystifying topics. Mystifying topics is the exact opposite of explaining topics to an audience.
  • This is deliberate and fits into how SAP markets to customers.


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

In this article, we will explain why SAP consistently chooses to mystify topics and how it fits into the overall SAP sales and marketing approach.

The Process of Mystifying Areas

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

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

The Hypnotic Properties of Inscrutable Words

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

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

Being one of the few entities having performed a great deal of research into Hasso Plattner’s claims, we can say with confidence that virtually none of the things that Hasso says ever end up coming true. However, it should be understood that there is no financial reason for other entities to perform this research. It has to be done for reasons of curiosity, as there is very little of a financial market for fact-checking the claims of software vendors. Media entities don’t do it (preferring a steady stream of vendor cash), and consulting companies don’t do it (they are partners with the vendors!) Therefore the only financial market exists on the other side of the equation, which is repeating claims made by software vendors. And because there is no real financial market, it will typically not get done.

SAP’s Army of Enablers

If a normal process of validation or fact checking occurred, Hasso Plattner would have no credibility left as he has been doing this for decades. However, because SAP pays so many media entities, and the consulting companies that specialize in SAP are “in on it,” and repeat these falsehoods, there is almost no one with any interest in calling out Hasso Plattner. Even competing vendors, typically have some partnership with SAP that contractually prevents them from criticizing SAP. I sometimes talk to vendors that will repeat back false things to me about SAP. So SAP’s marketing should be viewed as a 360 degrees falsehood machine, impacting both customers and vendors and other parties.

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

The Opposite of the Richard Feynman Technique of Learning

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

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

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

Step 1: Try to explain the concept in simple terms without jargon.

Step 2: This is invaluable feedback because you’ve discovered the edge of your knowledge. Competence knows the limit of your abilities, and you’ve just identified one!

Step 3: Now you have a set of hand-crafted notes. Review them to make sure you didn’t mistakenly borrow any of the jargon from the source material.”


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

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

SAP Contact Form

  • Questions About This Area?

    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, tell us your question below.


The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything

How Much Should Hasso Plattner and SAP be Cut Slack for Lying?

Executive Summary

  • Hasso Plattner and SAP tell a large number of lies compared to the typical software vendor.
  • Some have proposed that these lies are not lies but exaggerations.


In this article, we will discuss the interesting double standard that seems to be applied to SAP lies. And the idea that SAP should not be held to a standard to truth-telling.

A Resistance to Criticize Obvious Lies by SAP

In debating various articles that I have written about SAP many people on LinkedIn who are SAP surrogates or general proponents seemingly have not been interested in addressing my questions concerning the accuracy of statements made by Hasso Plattner. The reason for this is, in my view, no matter how false the statement by SAP, SAP resources are fearful of being seen as publicly repudiating it.

The interaction often goes something like the following.

  1. Postponing the Reckoning: The proponent states that I don’t understand the vision of SAP and that in the future the things that the SAP spokesman says will happen and all I have to do is wait. This is one of the common strategies that are not considerate of whether the claim is even possible. I outline this extensively in the article When Articles Exaggerate HANA Benefits and When Articles Exaggerate S/4HANA Benefits. However, my entity, Brightwork Research & Analysis has been virtually the only media entity to describe the impossibility of many of SAP’s claims. Something that is impossible does not require time to determine if it is true. IT media entities normally consider their job done if they simply repeat statements by vendors. After all, they have a source.
  2. How Calling Out SAP on Falsehoods Results in Accusations of Bias: A second approach that is used is for the SAP proponent to question my bias. The evidence of this bias is fact-checking SAP, which is not supposed to be fact checked. SAP is supposed to be agreed with, but never fact-checked. The amusing thing about this is that the entire SAP ecosystem is incredibly financially biased. Large consulting companies recommend SAP because it’s their highest margin item that they can bill the most hours for. The major IT media entities, as well as it analyst, are almost all paid in some shape or form by SAP. The bias that the SAP proponent identifies in this corrupt morass is bias against SAP. When I bring this up to the SAP proponent, they again, are not interested in addressing real bias. Instead, they prefer to use the term bias dishonestly. And when I point out their undeniable financial bias, they tend to leave the conversation.
  3. Silence on SAP’s Exaggerated Statements: When I list the statements by SAP when I list the statements by SAP which often sound ridiculous and false (HANA has 100,000 times the performance of any competing technology, S/4HANA is ready to be implemented, SAP is only based upon best practices), and I asked the SAP proponent to support them or contradict them. Invariably SAP proponent changes the subject.

A Consistent Pattern of Lying

After many years of analyzing sap in one of the few full-time SAP analysts, the amount of inaccurate information that comes out of SAP is it a consistent theme. And these lies are accepted by SAP proponents for obvious reasons. Actually, beyond acceptance, these lies are most often repeated.

Should SAP Be Immune from Charges of Lying

This does bring up the question of whether SAP should be considered immune from charges of lying.

  • That is is SAP in a special category of company.
  • That large company should never be held to what is true because being large means they have natural authority, and that authority should not be questioned.
  • SAP is German. And German companies don’t lie.

That is should we accept that SAP has the right to lie as much as it seems necessary to meet its objectives and should not be criticized.

Are Lies Part of Capitalism?

I bring up this question because in a recent discussion with an SAP proponent I was told that in a capitalist system it should be expected that software vendors will exaggerate.

It has been proposed to me that lying is ok if it is within a capitalist system. It is unclear as to whether lying is considered a part of communism. According to some, we have to accept lying if we want to participate in capitalism. And it implies that lying is acceptable depending upon the economic system that a country chooses. 

How SAP’s Accuracy Level Compares to Other Software Vendors

However, SAP exaggerates far more than other software vendors, and I have the evidence to prove this which anyone can see at A Study into SAP’s Accuracy. This is the most comprehensive listing of SAP’s accuracy documented. When we ask SAP proponents to provide their research into SAP’s accuracy, they disappear.

I know quite a few software vendors that while they certainly present their product in the best possible light do not so consistently lie about their product as SAP, which is why we rate them in the bottom of vendor accuracy in our Honest Vendor Ratings. And of course, all of these software vendors operate within a capitalist system as well. But this research tells a different story of SAP’s lying. It illustrates that SAP’s lying is out of line with the lying of other vendors in scale and scope. This should not be seen a blanket endorsement of other vendors, which is why we created the ratings for a reasonable number of vendors and rated each individually. This research both in the accuracy of other vendors and in a great deal of detail into SAP, allows us to say that SAP lies at a far higher level than the majority of software vendors.

The Problem with Justifying Lying on the Basis of the Economic System

Capitalism just means that the means of production can be kept in private hands. It does not say anything as to whether companies should be lying to meet their financial objectives. There are very few scenarios where lying results in good overall outcomes and the acceptance of lying say quite a bit about the honesty of these person making the determination. And where would this end?

  • Can food companies change the expiry dates on their product in grocery stores?
  • Can pharmaceutical companies lie about the efficacy of their drugs? (oops bad example, as they already do this)
  • Can child care facilities lie about whether children were taken care of after being dropped off, versus being locked in a closet?

Where does the natural extension of the lying argument go?

Overall, SAP proponents seem to be looking for an excuse to cover up for why SAP lies so much. That is they are “cool with it.”

Lying and Market Efficiency

The argument that lying is a part of capitalism is weak and weaker than the proponents of the argument seem to realize. They appear to be forgetting the foundational principle of market efficiency. It is well known that capitalist systems and systems operate better when the market is efficient. However for a market to be to be efficient, it must have access to accurate information. Lying and deception do nothing but reduce the quality of information in the market making the economic system less efficient. Therefore it would seem that any economic system capitalist or otherwise does not benefit from the companies within that system lying to the buyers within that system.

However, faux capitalism is the norm. If we look at large companies, they frequently discuss the free market, and at the first opportunity send in political donations to receive special favors and contracts. Banks pretend they are “rugged individualists” when in fact their entire money creation power comes from the government, and they live almost entirely off of the public nipple.

How SAP Clearly Prefers Executives that Lie

Hasso Plattner is an aggressive liar. It is to the point where when I analyze statements by Hasso Plattner my first assumption is that in some way it contains a lie. His knowledge level is not particularly deep, and there is little to learn from him. What do look for in Hasso quotes is the lie. And I am never disappointed. Some people have ascribed his recent lies to age. However, I know people that knew Hasso 20 years ago, and he has always had a deceptive approach. Hasso tricked many executives in his life, and it has paid off for him handsomely.

Hasso Plattner is by no means unique with an SAP. For people that know SAP the statements made by Bill McDermott average on the comedic.

  • Vishal Sikka told an enormous number of lies about SAP HANA before he left the company some years ago.
  • Rob Enslin appears to be a pathological liar, and I have been amazed by his lies in SAS quarterly analyst calls.
  • I have criticized Steve Lucas for telling enormous lies and for not even understanding the topics of which he writes as I covered in the article Analysis of Steve Lucas’ Article on What Oracle Won’t Tell You About HANA.

I could create a long list of SAP executives that habitually lie, but hopefully, the point is made. I am probably one of the largest consumers of SAP content and of executive statements I cannot think of a single SAP executive who I find to be a reliable source of information on SAP.

This brings up the question of the nature of the executives that SAP promotes and attracts to its company. From the outside, it looks as if the line and lying in extreme forms is a prerequisite for being a top-level executive at SAP. The question that should be asked is why is that acceptable. Why are customers so comfortable with the track record of SAP executives line over such a large period.