How ComputerWeekly is a Front for Marketing Automation

 Executive Summary

  • ComputerWeekly is not an IT media entity as much as it a marketing platform and lead generation platform for software vendors.
  • We cover how ComputerWeekly works.

Introduction

Over time we have become frustrated with the information published by Computer Weekly regarding how they cover SAP.

We decided to investigate who owns Computer Weekly. This and how they operate will be the subject of this article.

What is ComputerWeekly?

On the surface, ComputerWeekly looks like a popular technology magazine with no particular bias. ComputerWeekly churns out conventional articles that essentially repeat quotations from sources at conferences and phone calls with technology companies. For many of the articles, there is virtually no analysis, so while there are authors attached to the articles, there is not much reason to use authors. The intent of many of the articles is not to explain anything to readers, but to allow the marketing departments of technology companies to reach leads.

But mixed along with this are “real articles,” such as this one.

https://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/My-brother-Lauri-Love-should-have-the-right-to-a-trial-in-the-UK

Who Owns ComputerWeekly?

What ComputerWeekly “is” comes to light when one learns who owns ComputerWeekly.

ComputerWeekly is owned by TechTarget. TechTarget is a media giant and it purchased ComputerWeekly in 2011. It owns other media properties such as LeMagIT, KnowledgeStorm, BitPipe, including others.

The TechTarget website says close to nothing about being a media entity but instead is entirely focused on marketing to businesses how it can help them with lead generation.

That is ComputerWeekly looks like an online technology magazine, but that is not what its owning company looks like. Not at all.

ComputerWeekly creates content to capture information that is then passed to TechTarget’s marketing automation system. This is what technology providers pay TechTarget for so that readers, as potential buyers, can be monitored and then shared with technology companies.

Those Everpresent Email Capture Forms

Article after article on the ComputerWeekly site has an email capture form to access the content.

We would propose that most people that fill in this form have no idea what is behind this innocent looking website. This email form, along with cookies, is what feeds the TechTarget marketing system.

  • The forms are precise to ask for a company email address. This is because ComputerWeekly and their “partners” want to find out what company you work for, and of course, to spam your company address.
  • This, when combined with the article being searched, combined with the number of people with that same company email address, allows TechTarget to create a profile of which companies are looking into various technology purchases.

ComputerWeekly states that by filling out your email address (which is done to receive some content), this gives ComputerWeekly the right for their technology “partners” to contact you. See the exact quotation below.

By submitting your personal information, you agree that TechTarget and its partners may contact you regarding relevant content, products and special offers.

However, this information that is provided does not explain the extent of what happens after ComputerWeekly/TechTarget receives the information.

Furthermore, when you select the partner list, you find a list of what appears to be a little less than 1000 partners. And of course, SAP is one of these partners. ComputerWeekly receives around 1.7 million page views per month.

With so many page views and with its backend, it is quite capable of aggregating its email addresses to build a profile of interests in various technology and to track how that interest rises or declines over time.

TechTarget is watching, as are 1000 tech companies that are customers of TechTarget. Nothing on the ComputerWeekly website indicates the powerful backend analytics to which your email is subjected.

This means that while the individual may think they are merely giving over their email, they are,, signaling to TechTarget and giving up their privacy in a way they are more likely than not, not fully aware. Secondly, the person filling out the form has no idea that they through filling out that one form. It is as if they are filling out 50 or more forms on different vendor websites! TechTarget has hundreds of customers, and your email, as well as your company, could end up being shared with any of those companies.

Understanding the TechTarget Marketing Platform

TechTarget’s website (which again, the reader does not see) is very clear about how they allow tech companies to monitor readers.

These screenshots are directly off of the TechTarget’s website.

This video, also on the TechTarget website, also shows how the TechTarget platform works. Discover.org is a popular marketing platform that integrates with TechTarget. In this way, the TechTarget is integrated with other data, making the information even more powerful, which means even more invasive of your privacy. 

Conclusion

ComputerWeekly is a honeypot designed to obtain volume that can then be sold to technology companies. This means that ComputerWeekly aggressively tracks its viewers. It also means that its content is optimized around how to get the most targeted emails so they can be processed.

To maximize the financial benefits of such a model, you would have minimal interest in what is true; One would expect that ComputerWeekly would never write anything that was critical of any technology company. They will repeat self-serving quotations from readers, as stated in this article.

Furthermore, it is quite likely that the topics of the articles are backward engineered from the information that they need to collect. This means that SAP and the other partners are instructing TechTarget what leads they would like, which most likely has a strong influence on what is published. And the larger the entity and the more they can pay, the more TechTarget will direct its resources to write articles about those subjects.

The objective would be to write articles that can maximize its ability to sell its audience to technology companies. ComputerWeekly does not need to advertise because the entire website is an email harvesting system. Advertising implies that the reader will see the ad and then contact or purchase from the advertiser. But in the TechTarget model, ads are redundant as the customer of TechTarget (i.e., the partner) contacts the reader. Remember, SAP (and other tech companies) has an extensive database of email addresses and other contact details. This means they do not necessarily need to contact the person filling in the information. They may determine the person is too far down the food chain to be worth contacting (i.e., not an influencer). They may instead use the filled in email addresses of a particular company to signal intent or interest, and then select what they think is the best contact in their database for that company to reach out. This may be determined by the account manager who would be assigned to the prospect.

ComputerWeekly and TechTarget are yet another example of what is wrong with IT media. Here we have a popular website posing as an information provider that has its primary objective to capture information that it can sell as part of a marketing solution. And it is deceptive because, unlike an ad, the reader is not aware of the complex apparatus in the background.

Interestingly, ComputerWeekly even had an article that is quite relevant to this topic. However, they come to a conclusion that should be analyzed.

“We can’t and won’t go back to that old world of heavily staffed newspapers offering careers and good wages. The money isn’t there in the system any more. It is, then, this economic reality brought about by the technological change which is going to prevail.

There aren’t going to be as many journalists as there used to be and they’ll not get paid as they did, simply because the entire ecosystem of the business is able to extract less money from you and I, the consumers.

Which is all to the good of course, we consumers being who the economy is and should be in favour of. But, still, the good old days aren’t coming back; they never have done elsewhere either.”

And guess who wrote this article? Not a member of the ComputerWeekly staff, but Tim Worstall, a member of the Adam Smith Institute, which is a conservative think tank. “Free market” think tanks love the idea of wholly privatized and corporate controlled media. It allows the media system to deprived of income from any source but private companies. This way, the media system does the bidding of elite interests, which is to serve as a purely propagandist function which is sold to the highest bidder.

That is what is meant when one says to bring the “free market” to media. A free market in media results in a corporate controlled media, and of course, a media system that is managed in a hidden manner and which has no mechanism to police itself or has any other objective than to push the product out the door. Care t0 take a guess who pays the Adam Smith Institute to write such articles?

The problem with this is that the revenue model for a company like TechTarget is entirely funded by the entities that TechTarget writes stories about. And that means that ComputerWeekly both misleads its readers as to who is paying for ComputerWeekly, and ComputerWeekly’s content will be aligned with the companies that it covers. In this way, TechTarget misleads its readers in at least two different dimensions.

And this is the perfection of the model of “free market” media entities, as promoted by conservative think tanks. It meets the twin objectives of maximizing profits while minimizing the truthful information that is received by readers.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

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

What We Do and Research Access

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References

https://www.adamsmith.org/

https://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Newspaper-woes-show-that-when-technology-changes-everything-changes

How to Understand The Myth of the Golden Age of SAP

Executive Summary

  • SAP consultants like to talk about a “Golden Age” of SAP, where SAP added a great deal of value to customers.
  • We show how this is a myth and how this myth is used.

Introduction

In this article, we will cover a common assumption promoted by SAP proponents. This is the proposal that SAP was at some point, a company that added a lot of value to customers. This is what we call the myth of the golden age of SAP.

How and When the Myth is Used

Over time even with nearly total control over IT media and with complicit SAP consulting companies and also independent SAP consultants (who know where their bread is buttered), a concept has arisen. It is often used by the proponent when faced with the undeniable fact that SAP is abusing its market position and power in some way. In a discussion around indirect access claims brought by SAP, the following is an example of this claim.

I love SAP and worked with it all my career, but it is sad to see such a great innovative technology company allowing their Sales teams to go down this path…”

We found this comment curious because SAP has never been an innovative company.

What SAP has had is an aggressive series of claims about innovation. But as we have analyzed in great detail, SAP routinely misleads customers, Wall Street, and their employees about how innovative SAP is. An excellent example of this is regarding the claim that Hasso Plattner invented HANA. This claim is demonstrated to be an impossibility in the following article Did Hasso Plattner and PhDs Invent HANA? 

And the thing is that truly innovative companies don’t need to exaggerate their level of innovation because they let their innovation speak for itself. For example, Google or Intel spend little time exaggerating their level of innovation.

Their innovation is well known and is demonstrated in their products and output.

What Was SAP’s Innovation?

The reason SAP is SAP has little to do with their software. Back in the 1980s, SAP was one of many ERP vendors. At that time, ERP was a new category of software that took an MRP system and integrated it into a financial system and later other systems. The “M” in MRP was simply replaced with “E” for “enterprise” to broaden out the meaning of the software as to mean the overall company is covered by the functionality.

SAP is widely thought to have done a better than average job in integrating the MRP functionality to the financial functionality. But it would be difficult to classify this as an innovation. The reason being that all the ERP vendors had the same idea and were doing the same thing. At that time, many MRP vendors were purchased by vendors with financial functionality, and after the acquisition spree, there were few exclusive MRP vendors left.

Now one might say that SAP did a better than average job of executing on what was a widely shared vision. But what SAP did that was divergent from other, other ERP vendors at the time is that they outsourced their consulting to the large consulting companies. There are a series of disadvantages to doing this. Consulting companies like the most extended possible projects. And they like to bill the possible hours. So any software company that outsources almost totally it’s consulting to consulting companies will end up with a poorer value for their customers. But the more a vendor does this, the more they can expect to be recommended by consulting companies to their clients.

And that is what SAP did, and they did it more than any other vendor.

And it is why SAP has the most expensive and most time-consuming implementations, which is correspondingly why they have the most consulting company recommendations (see the connection?)

Was a Three-Tier Design Innovative?

Once one moves outsides of doing an excellent job of executing on a universally shared vision of connecting the financial system to the MRP system (which again is not innovation, as all ERP vendors had this vision at the time), the next claim is that SAP innovated when they went to a client-server or three-tier design. This was when they introduced R/3. Only a few people would propose this because most people that work in SAP don’t remember this supposed innovation.

However, again, this is something that vendors were in general moving to at that time. If everyone is doing something and you do it as well, then it is, by definition, not innovative.

SAP’s claims of even being close to innovation become even less supportable.

  1. The early SAP APO was primarily copied from i2 Technologies, and then other later modules like EWM were copied from other warehousing applications at the time.
  2. SAP BW was copied from other BI vendors at the time but became popular because of its connection to SAP ECC.
  3. SAP PI is a copy of previously existing middleware applications at the time.
  4. SAP CRM is a copy of already existing CRM applications.
  5. SAP HANA is based upon column-oriented databases, which goes back to the 1970s, and for which SAP already owned a column-oriented database it purchased from Sybase (IQ) before it developed HANA. HANA itself was based primarily on several acquired products and, as proposed in the Teradata lawsuit, was, in part, stolen from Teradata.
  6. SAP MDM was a copy of already existing MDM applications at the time.
  7. SAP PLM was a copy of already existing PLM applications at the time.
  8. Fiori is an SAP take or co-option on HTML5.

This list could be longer, but there is no innovation we can find anywhere. (if we eventually find some, we will update this article).

SAP’s Missing Innovation?

Furthermore, there are many examples of SAP providing very backward components of its software and not changing them for many years of these items.  Many elements of SAP are positively backward. A few of these items we have listed in the article, How to Best Understand SAP’s Negative Innovation.

This, of course, does not stop SAP marketing from continually talking about how innovative SAP is. But SAP’s marketing department will typically have at least two false statements in any single page of content that they create. (that is two being the minimum number of falsehoods) so there is no reason to uncritically accept any statement that comes from SAP as true.

It also does not stop SAP consultants from dramatically overstating SAP’s history of innovation. Interestingly, innovation is one of the criteria we use to evaluate software vendors in our Honest Vendor Ratings.

  • Our highest rated vendors in innovation are PlanetTogether, Arena Solutions, FinancialForce, and Intacct.
  • SAP is one of the lowest rated vendors when it comes to innovation in our research.

Yet, how often are PlanetTogether or Arena Solutions listed as innovative leaders? How much does being lauded for innovation have to do with the company’s size and the number of people who are enriched through association with you?

We can find out by going back in history.

This is Louis XIV. He began his reign at the age of 5 and died at 77. During his reign, France was the leading power in Europe.

Did Louis XIV Receive Flattery from Subjects?

It might surprise some people to learn that when people would come to the court of Louis XIV, they tended to flatter Louis. They downright exaggerated his positive attributes. That is, they exaggerated his qualities both to Louis XIV and to others to gain favor with Louis XIV.

It is difficult to tell from the portrait, don’t know if you can tell, but Louis XIV tended to like flattery. I know this is all rather shocking, so please just hold your surprise until you have had time to finish the article, and then you can go and lay down.

The SAP market is filled with consultants who will praise SAP because it is profit maximizing to do so. These sycophants will say anything about SAP’s accomplishments because they don’t care what is true and only look out for their self-interests. A meeting with any of the high command at SAP would go something like the scene from John Adams above, (except they would perform more curtsies)

How Powerful Entities Benefit from Widespread Sycophancy

History shows that powerful people often have people say flattering things about them by people who have benefited from them or intend to benefit from them. Once you become a billionaire today, you receive an unending series of gifts, and people reaching out to you to praise you for various characteristics you possess. I know several people who have kept count of how many billionaires they have met (and in turn ask me how many I have met (my answer? zero))

Isn’t it curious that the software which usually pays the consultants the most to work in it, also just so “happens” to be the most innovative according to those same consultants?

Is it possible that people are exaggerating positive attributes about SAP, and downplaying innovation at other vendors for personal reasons?

At first glance, the emphasis on religious worship may seem a bit odd. Why would an all-powerful entity care if the beings he created worshiped him (or her or it).

It wouldn’t.

But the people that created these organizations do care. 

Religious worship can be viewed as early training in how to subordinate one’s thoughts to concentrated power. What is being worshiped does not have to check out with the facts; it just has to be widely agreed upon as something to be esteemed.

Why the SAP Golden Age Myth is Promoted

There are a lot of people who have made a good living from SAP. The top 18 SAP consulting companies employ over 248,000 consultants at both excellent incomes for the consultants, and a sizable margin for the consulting companies. Much of this income is due to the SAP consultants promoting SAP marketing materials and related assumptions to clients that are often easy to take advantage of.

People don’t like thinking they have benefited from being associated with an entity that attained its station through non-value added means. For this reason, it is tough to get people to accept criticism of what they work within. And this forces the mind to search for justification. For example.

  • Lawyers don’t publicly comment on how unfair the judicial systems are.
  • Health care workers don’t spend much time discussing how inefficient the health care system is.

If you bring up these topics with people that work in these areas, they usually tend to either become disassociative or use a logical fallacy to defend the space that they work in.

SAP’s Increase in Abuse as a Continuation of a Long Thread

Indeed, SAP has gotten more abusive in recent years, treating it’s more partners poorly, using new approaches to extract undeserved income from its customers, such as with indirect access. But these are simply enlargements of abuses that have already been in place for decades. SAP was the most aggressive vendor, perhaps in the history of software vendors to outsource it’s consulting to large consulting companies, which means it mostly had the lowest bar for ethics and consideration for its customers.

It knew these consulting companies would fleece these customers, but it simply did not care.

Conclusion

People that propose that SAP was at one time good or at one time ethical are, in part, attempting to justify their cooperation with SAP that resulted in excess gains. They seem to be particularly skillful in “looking the other way.” It is difficult to believe that the actual outcomes on SAP projects, SAP’s constant lies, and the treatment of SAP-endorsed consulting companies managed to escape their attention.

It also happens to be historically inaccurate.

SAP benefits from having a literal army of people who have made their career in SAP define what SAP’s history is for other people. And they are not driven by what is true, but rather by what they would like others to think is true.

Through their defense of this faux “Golden Age of SAP,” they lay the groundwork for the idea that SAP can be “reformed” and help perpetuate what will be only more abuse on the part of SAP.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.

 

Research Access

  • Do You Need to Access Research in this Area?

    Put our independent analysis to work for you to improve your spend.

References

https://www.democracynow.org/2000/3/14/aetna_acknowledges_issuing_slave_policies_during

Today you can buy life insurance from Aetna. But in 1850, you could purchase insurance from Aetna for your slaves.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5042377

https://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2015/09/slavery_myths_seven_lies_half_truths_and_irrelevancies_people_trot_out_about.html

*https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/goldman-chief-says-he-is-just-doing-gods-work/?_r=0

*https://www.amazon.com/Complicity-Promoted-Prolonged-Profited-Slavery/dp/0345467833

https://assets.teradata.com/News/2018/2018-06-19-Complaint.pdf

How to Best Understand SAP’s Negative Innovation

Executive Summary

  • SAP produces negative innovation and focuses far more on marketing innovation than actually creating innovation.
  • Examples of fake or negative innovations are HANA and S/4HANA, among many others.

Introduction

Many companies exaggerate the amount of innovation they are involved in. This extends from software vendors to pharmaceutical companies. SAP is probably one of the greatest exaggerators of the innovation that they are engaged in. And, in this article, evidence will be presented that SAP reduces innovation in the enterprise software market.

SAP’s Focus on Marketing Rather than Innovation

SAP has one of the most deception marketing departments that one could imagine. I have spent a lot of time studying the nuclear arms race, or the Cold War, and from that, I learned of the fantastic propensity of Pentagon and US Defense establishment to tell lies. After also studying SAP for many years, I often draw comparisons between SAP and the Pentagon. It is incredible to me how much SAP lies and misleads customers and how they perpetually get away with it. I have documentation many areas of deception on the part of SAP at Brightwork Research & Analysis as well as at LinkedIn. Much like a major pharmaceutical company, they pose as an innovator while being chiefly a marketing company.

SAP’s Acquisitions

As SAP has lost its development ability (that is, they can develop products, but not functional products), SAP will have to move to a strategy of an acquisition. SAP has had a history of problematic acquisitions, and, prefers to build their products rather than acquire. But as SAP becomes an increasingly monopolistic vendor, meaning their development productivity is severely declining, they are in a position of having to buy new products as they lose the ability to make new products internally. This is something they have been well-known to prefer not to do in the past. However, the problem is that SAP is not very good at acquiring companies and integrating them into the SAP suite.

An excellent example of this is the Business Objects acquisition. The very act of engaging in a high number of acquisitions is indicative that the acquiring software vendors are not innovative. IBM, another poser innovator, is also a big fan of acquisitions. As with IBM, after a few years, the SAP acquisition is no longer prominent. Therefore not only can SAP not innovate internally, but they smother the innovation in their acquisitions.

The Business Objects Example

The Business Objects acquisition has been so poorly managed that it has been ridiculed even in the ordinarily compliant press. Many customers are furious with how their BO support has declined since the purchase. Thus SAP is decreasing the reputation of BO in the market. This is one of the reasons I much oppose mergers because they cause dislocation, and customers usually suffer. It also results in a few alternatives and higher monopoly power and fewer places for employees to work.

For anyone who has worked SAP, it is clear that culturally SAP should stay away from mergers because they are unable to incorporate people from different companies without making them feel subordinate to SAP. This is one reason SAP recently lost John Schwarz, who came from BO and why he left so quickly and with virtually no notice. However, the problems with software mergers are not restricted to SAP. Oracle’s acquisitions of Hyperion have not made it a top data warehouse vendor even though it was a top vendor at the time that Oracle purchased them. On the topic of mergers, Colin White, a BI expert, has the following thing to say, which I found interesting.

“Another issue when a vendor acquires a product is the level of overlap with functionality in existing offerings. Most vendors are unwilling to phase out existing components in favor of new ones because it disrupts the development organization, upsets customers, and impacts revenue streams. The situation gets worse as more products are acquired; and as a result, offerings become gradually more complex and marketing messages confused.” – Colin White

Acquisitions, in general, have a lengthy, well-studied, and poor reputation. However, acquisitions are even more problematic in the software industry. This is something that any company should be aware of when the product their vendor uses gets purchased. The capability of the acquired product stagnates, product support declines, and many of the brains behind the product tend to leave the company rather than be continuously condescended to by new owners. You will get pitched other products from the acquiring company. The primary motivation behind software acquisition is to reduce competition.

How SAP Creates Fake Innovation, Such as S/4HANA and HANA

What SAP is deciding for its customers is what they should be buying, and they have pitched HANA as hard as a product can be pitched. However, SAP is wrong about performance being an issue on SAP projects. This is covered in the article What is the Actual Performance of SAP HANA. SAP has deliberately misled customers on how much HANA is innovative. Oracle 12c has everything that HANA has and is a more useful database. This is covered in the article What is Faster HANA or Oracle 12c?

I have worked in SAP since 1997, and there is not a single time I have seen anything in SAP that is innovative. The opposite is the case.

How SAP Pulls Funding Away from Innovative Applications from Other Vendors to Their Own Lower Quality Innovation

SAP has repeatedly pulled intellectual property out of other software vendors. This is covered in the article Why the SAP xApps Program Needs to Terminated. But secondly, SAP wins on software selections that it should lose. It can do this because companies like Deloitte and IBM do not care about their clients and recommend SAP software not matter its capabilities or what the competition has to offer. The topic of the poor state of SAP applications outside of a single application, which is SAP’s ECC system, is covered in this article, How SAP is Now Strip Mining its Customers.

What this does is redirect funding away from software vendors that are producing innovation to SAP, which spends the money on marketing and executive salaries. I can provide one excellent example.

The Horror of That is PP/DS

In the production planning and scheduling space, there is no vendor more innovative than PlanetTogether. PlanetTogether is rated at this Brightwork Research & Analysis link. PlanetTogether is one of the most intuitive and robust applications in supply chain planning, and they have received a perfect score in innovation from us. SAP also makes an application for production planning and scheduling. It is an application that I have personally implemented. It is called PP/DS, and I consider it to be one of the worst applications I have ever tested. PP/DS is rated at this Brightwork Research & Analysis link. PP/DS does not change much from year to year, and it was always a lousy application. Its optimizer does not work and cannot be implemented. PP/DS is an utterly derivative application that sets back production planning and scheduling everywhere that it is implemented.

Use Indirect Access to Prevent Companies from Buying Applications they Prefer over SAP’s Applications

SAP has begun to apply indirect access claims to its customers. Indirect access means that any system that is connected to SAP is a potential liability for the customer. When customers show a preference for using far better applications that are innovative, SAP does not respond by making their products innovative, but by either lying to their customers or by applying indirect access claims against them. The very existence of indirect access as enforced by SAP, which differs from the definition of indirect access of every other software vendor. Also, the constant lies on the part of SAP about the abilities of their applications tells you all you need to know about how shockingly derivative SAP is.

Significant Areas of Backwardness and Negative Innovation

SAPGUI

First up is the most obvious, which is right in front of one’s face. That is the SAPGUI. Although we take much of what Hasso Plattner says serious, he was correct when he stated:

“Our UI Sucks!”

However, the problem is that Hasso only admitted this after SAP had released Fiori. SAP will occasionally provide accurate descriptions of its products, but only to create a burning platform to move to SAP’s new product. Now that years after this comment was made, and there is no real pathway to Fiori adoption if Hasso would have made this comment. That is, if 99%+ of all the users of your applications still use SAPGUI, do you want to admit that it sucks.

The problem is that Fiori never took off. In our estimation, Fiori probably won’t be the future UI of SAP, which is covered in the article Why Fiori Will Probably Not Survive. However, I participated in some SAP sales presentations where customers were told not to focus on the SAPGUI because it would all be replaced by Fiori (or Personas — another SAP UI that did not work out).

This means that SAP customers will have their users on a UI that “sucks” for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, as other UIs are increasingly web-based, allowing for broader usage and distribution of the applications, SAP customers are stuck with a non-web based front end.

ABAP and Development Tools

92% of SAP customers have either moderately or highly modified their SAP system. However, they have had to do it with the inefficient and proprietary ABAP language, as well as SAP’s ineffective tools. This means that every SAP IT shop must have specially designated ABAP coders that only work on SAP. ABAP and SAP’s other development tools are one reason why SAP’s TCO is so much higher than other vendors. This topic is covered in Why Customers Followed SAP’s Advice on ABAP and Tools.

Data Model and Data Access

If you use an ERD tool to diagram SAP’s data model, you often end up with a highly confusing set of tables.

Here is part of the data model from within APO. One has to wonder who was doing the data modeling for SAP as its tables often lack a logical reason for their schema. That is, far more straightforward schemas should have been created. 

To access that data, it is necessary to use the transactions SE16 or SE16N. SE16N is more feature rich, but it does not exist for many SAP products, SAP APO being one example.

SAP’s products are the most difficult to get data out of and back into because SAP does not allow a direct SQL onto their tables. This is ostensibly done for security, but no other software vendor imposes this overhead on their customers. To integrate with SAP, one must connect to function modules, which are another layer of complexity, or pass IDOCs, which are hierarchical mainframe era text files that are not self-describing as with XML. It is positively backward and strange for a company that claims to be so innovative.

What is the SAP Mirage?

The SAP mirage is a combination of factors that move the discussion away from what SAP has in a debate about a fantasy of what SAP has. Examples of techniques that support the creation of this mirage are:

  • Selling Off of SAP Roadmaps: SAP prefers to spend as much time as possible discussing the future of their products versus the present. When we supported SAP sales engagements in a technical capacity, customers were told by the salesperson to ignore the SAP UI (called the SAPGUI) because a new user interface was coming that was going to “blow the customer away.” Three years after this promise, the new user interface the salesperson was talking about (Personas) is dead. The one that followed, Fiori, is on life support (and we predict it will eventually die as we cover in the article Understanding Why Fiori Won’t Be Able to Survive).
  • Selling Exaggerated Products: This topic gets virtually no IT media coverage, which is a story in its own right. However, SAP continually exaggerates what its products can do. SAP places functionality into its products that often can’t be practically accessed or, once accessed, can’t be maintained. SAP has the widest discrepancy we have ever recorded between what it says its products can do versus what they can do in actual practice.
  • Co-option: SAP is a master at co-opting concepts and trends that it not only has nothing to do with but that its business model is opposed to. Cloud, SOA, “modular architecture,” the list goes on and on. Whatever is popular at the time, SAP “has always been about that” or has a partnership with some vendor that does precisely that, or is working on something that will meet that significant need. However, SAP keeps to the strategy that has worked for it, and this does not mean doing anything to make its products less expensive to implement, more comfortable to use with other applications, etc..

In our view, no one is more skilled at selling a future with less supporting information than SAP. We have covered in other articles how S/4 HANA is not even released yet, and how its implementation numbers are greatly exaggerated, as explained in the article How SAP Controls Perceptions with Customer Numbers, and how it is roughly 95% identical to its predecessor (ECC).

SAP’s Influence Over IT Media

No other vendor is as effective at getting a vast number of influencers, IT media entities, or SAP consulting companies to repeat SAP’s messaging. For example, people like Hasso Plattner and Bill McDermott speak as if S/4 is already providing value to customers, and this has been little questioned in the IT media. Our Study into S/4HANA Implementations indicates that this is highly unlikely.

As a vendor, you know your application, and it’s valued and how to position it. But, are you prepared to compete not with SAP’s actual application, something that does not and will never exist? 

  • Whatever you have, SAP is working on something that they will be released soon that is “better.”
  • If SAP has no experience in that application category, it makes no difference. They will partner with a vendor that is, promise them access to their clients, and slowly reverse engineer their products. With their market power, the only reason SAP is not successful in more areas is their development organization is inefficient.

For instance, according to Hasso Plattner, SAP already has the BEST USER INTERFACE in enterprise software (although customers barely use it), And the future SAP application will be integrated to SAP ERP (of course).

For SAP Bad Applications, Hope Springs Eternal

Old applications like CRM, PLM, EWM, SPP, Netweaver that did not work out, don’t count as misses in the minds of your potential customers. The promise of the future continually beacons to them.

SAP is, after all, working on next level stuff better in every way in every application area than any other vendor on earth.

  • It’s all web (or on-premises)!
  • They are re-imagining business processes!
  • It’s all completely integrated!
  • Steve Wozniak is at SAPPHIRE this year!

Vendors that compete with SAP are not fighting against what SAP has to sell. If it were that straightforward, SAP would lose a lot of its market share.

Instead, vendors must compete with a mirage that is created by SAP marketing. As alluded to earlier, many, perhaps most of the announcements made by SAP never come to pass.

The Enterprise Software Procurement Environment

One would assume that the enterprise software market is filled with informed decision makers, highly focused on doing research and selecting the best products for their company. That assumption is wrong. Corporate decision-makers are concerned with their careers and look to make selections that will place them in a favorable light. Companies are often not looking for innovative solutions that can improve the business, but decisions that are “safe.” (even if the results are mediocre) The primary enterprise software companies know that most of their clients have weak critical thinking skills. And they have captured the IT department (different large vendors “own” different company’s IT departments. Some companies are “SAP shops,” or “Oracle shops”). Many corporate decision-makers are not looking for the best product; they are looking instead for a product that can provide them with a plausible excuse if the implementations go poorly.

Companies are merely, in most cases, unable to make right decisions concerning enterprise software selection. A significant reason is the large vendors are just so large and so corrupt. Only having market power is not enough, you have to be willing to abuse the position by lying and using underhanded tactics, which all the large software vendors are, and can tilt the playing field in their direction.

Mind Control Over IT Departments

The IT department, with its series of political objectives, is one of the leading entities in companies promoting the use of dated approaches provided by the largest vendors. SAP, Oracle, and IBM have so captured the interests of IT, that at times it appears as if the IT department works for these vendors, rather than for their actual employer. IT departments, at this point, share similarities with the health care system. They are highly inefficient, highly bureaucratized, and more about its narrow interests than serving the customer (in this case, the business). This is described in more detail in this article.

Partners in Crime

Large companies have powerful relationships with the major consulting companies which control much of the decision-making in the enterprise software space. The major consulting companies don’t much care about how good the application is but are looking out for their interests, which means pitching the software from the major vendors which they have resources trained up on that they can bill.

Lack of Motivation for Innovation

Large vendors do not have to innovate because they can either develop a partnership with a smaller vendor, and partially reverse engineer the product, or they can simply buy out smaller innovative vendors (eventually killing the innovation in the acquisition). Since the majority of companies use software from the major vendors, this means that most companies use backward methods in software. This has implications for the efficiency of the overall economy. Large vendors, consulting companies, and internal IT departments, in essence, conspire against the business, barring them from accessing the best functionality.

How SAP Consultancies Keep SaaS Cloud Innovation Out of Their Clients

In the article, the Fallacy of the Benefits of an Integrated Suite. We covered how consulting companies push their clients away from innovative software if the software is not from a major branded vendor that they have resources ready to bill.

“Consulting companies like to create “uni-crop” software environments which allow them to have large numbers of consultants in a relatively smaller number of applications. Consulting companies overstate their software coverage and resource specialization to their clients on a routine basis. They will often hire independent consultants off of the market (as the client could have done) and then present the independent consultant as if they are a full-time employee, and that represent furthermore, the consulting company was somehow responsible for developing their skills. The consulting firms demand a significant margin on the resources even if they just met the resource a week ago.”

Disguising Simplistic Platitudes that are False as Advice

The largest entities in the space state things, and they become the accepted truth, but being big means (appears to mean at the very least) that you can get away without having to provide evidence. You can merely assert. And assert in the face of all the contradictory evidence.

I have been on so many projects where none of these assertions are questioned. The assertions come at decision-makers at high speed.

  1. It is much like “ABC because of an unproven assertion.
  2. XYZ because of an unproven assertion.”

The point is not to have your assertions questioned so you can move the customer down the rat maze that is in the desired routing.

Companies like Accenture and Deloitte perform no research and wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did because they don’t make their decisions by what is true. They make their decisions based on what they find profit maximizing, and then craft the simplistic platitude to be used by backward engineering from the outcomes that are profit maximizing to them.

And these are the companies we have advising other businesses on enterprise decision making.

Keeping Innovation and Threats Out

Additionally, a critical function of major consulting companies is to keep innovation and better applications out of their clients. Their continual quest is to keep smaller point solution providers out of “their” accounts. A small vendor or non-ERP suite vendor may produce a fantastic value proposition and fit with requirements, but the entire time of the software selection which the consulting company is “advising” the client, the primary consulting company is telling their client,

“but the vendor is not one of the major brands and “it won’t be integrated like a single branded application.”

The translation is (gee, we won’t be able to staff that project, so let’s block that vendor from getting into our account!)

Beyond the loss of the specific application consulting business, non-major branded vendors pose an existential threat to the consulting company’s ability to extract from the account. What if the vendor implements successfully and makes our high TCO and low utilized applications implemented by the consulting company look bad!

It could lead to a realization for their clients, and they could lose control of our low value-add revenue stream.

Fighting Changes Towards Innovation and SaaS

SaaS and cloud advantages existed for at least 15 years at this point, but true SaaS applications are still not that common. Vendors like SAP have cloudwashed their solutions — so it seems like there is more cloud than there is. Certainly, AWS has seen enormous growth. But SaaS was supposed to be the way to break the stranglehold of the on-premises suite vendors and their partners (the major consulting companies). This is taking a very long time to happen.

To make it work, they have to be careful never to quantify TCO or project success. The lack of quantification pushes the advantage to the highest cost and least efficient providers.

So here is the big challenge. Bringing this message across in a way that is tolerable to those people that have only ever been exposed to the evidence-free assumptions of the biggest vendors and the consulting companies.

Conclusion

Far from being innovative, SAP is not only not innovative or an innovation poseur, but it also has many components that are typically more backward that competing software vendors. We call this being “negatively innovative.” Being negatively innovative is when the vendor holds back the potential of their customers with their software. This is when a vendor cannot match the capabilities of other vendors that have been achieved for decades (for instance, being able to use SQL to address the vendor’s database).

In our view, SAP allowed these backward components to persist because of two primary reasons:

  1. Revenue Maximizing: They were more interested in creating new products they could charge for then going back and modernizing their backward components.
  2. Account Control and Monopolistic Competition: In other cases, SAP kept these components because they improved the account control over their customers. That is, SAP, preferred that its applications were difficult to integrate, allowing it to promote the idea that customers were safest if they merely exclusively purchased SAP applications to connect back to the SAP ERP system.

Large software companies have overwhelming advantages, which acts to overcome what is, in many cases, a mediocre solution. In some cases, the solution is just average, but it is often worse than this. SAP has been selling some products for years that not finished products, continue to push out far more capable and mature solutions as companies attempt to move towards a single vendor monoculture.

As with other industries, the bulk of innovation comes from smaller companies. The most that large companies are involved in innovation is typically limited to discussing innovation in advertisements (observe the false alternative fuel “innovation” occurring at the major petroleum companies).

Does anyone believe that the large oligopolistic oil companies are investing in alternative fuels?

Why would they?

They sell gasoline. Also, while the woman in the ad looks very happy, she should know that Hydrogen is not an alternative energy source, it’s an energy storage device. However, this is irrelevant to Shell (who certainly knows all this), Shell is selling the illusion of innovation. This false innovation is the same strategy employed by the large monopoly enterprise software vendors.

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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