- For years John Appleby provided information about HANA to the market.
- There was a specific timing to when Appleby released false information around HANA.
We covered in The Appleby Accuracy Checker: A Study into John Appleby’s Accuracy on HANA the extremely low accuracy of information provided by John Appleby over a period from roughly 2012 all the way up to the present day. However, the false information provided had a high intensity from 2013 to 2015, and then declined after 2015. Something very specific happened in 2015 which may have been strongly motivational for Appleby to release false information.
Appleby’s Role as Shill for SAP for HANA
John Appleby was “The Global Head of HANA” for the consulting firm Bluefin Solutions. And he was the primary shill for HANA particularly from the period of 2013 to 2015. John Appleby routinely published false information around HANA is what appears to be a classic shill relationship with SAP.
SAP’s support for what Appleby was doing was evidenced even in the comments made by Hasso Plattner. Appleby is repeatedly bailed out by Hasso Plattner at specific instances when Appleby is losing debates against commenters, as we covered in the article John Appleby, Beaten by Chris Eaton in Debate and Required Saving by Hasso Plattner.
How Appleby’s Prominence Helped Build the Bluefin Solutions Brand
Prior to John Appleby building a prominent role in media with his HANA posts, most people that worked in SAP would have been unaware of Bluefin Solutions as a company. There is little doubt that Bluefin Solutions prominent (but now obviously misleading) role in promoting HANA was what would have made Bluefin Solutions particularly attractive to being acquired.
This was referenced in the acquisition press release.
The Acquisition of Bluefin Solutions Mindtree
On July 16, 2015, Mindtree announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Bluefin Solutions.
“Headquartered in the UK, Bluefin delivers solutions to some of the world´s most prestigious companies and has earned multiple awards including the SAP Pinnacle Award, SAP HANA Partner of the Year, SAP CRM Partner of the Year and SAP BI Partner of the Year. Bluefin offers one of the industry’s most highly regarded team of experts for transitioning to SAP HANA, digital and real-time-analytics.”
Well, this is exaggerated as most press releases are. But notice the focus on how Bluefin were experts in transitioning to SAP HANA.
Appleby’s Double Financial Incentive to Lie
Appleby would have already had a strong motivation to exaggerate HANA. Nearly all of the SAP consulting companies did, but Appleby’s articles put him in a special category of being the most prominent proponent of HANA. However, with the Mindtree acquisition on the horizon, where he, as a senior member, was very likely to receive a substantial payoff, would have had an even higher incentive to lie. Of the articles that we chose to evaluate for our The Appleby Accuracy Checker: A Study into John Appleby’s Accuracy on HANA, notice the dates on each article.
|November, 13 2013||What in Memory Database for BW|
|December 27 2013||A Historical View of HANA|
|March 6, 2014||TCO of HANA|
|April 17, 2014||On HANA Replacing BW|
|June 2, 2014||On HANA SPS08|
|July 21, 2014||On HANA Versus DB2|
|September 9, 2014||HANA FAQ|
|November 18, 2014||HANA Performance with OLTP|
|December 15, 2014||2014 HANA Predictions|
|March 19, 2015||The BW-EML Benchmark|
|April 18, 2015||What Oracle Won't Tell You About HANA|
|June 25, 2018||10 Customer Use Cases|
This is not an exhaustive list of Appleby’s articles, but these were some of the most notable.
Furthermore, Appleby’s production of articles dipped sharply after 2015. However, we did not draw a correlation to the Mindtree acquisition until after we completed the Appleby Accuracy Checker, and check the date of the Mindtree acquisition.
It now appears that Appleby was making a particular effort to exaggerate HANA prior to the Mindtree acquisition, with his prominent articles tailing off after mid-2015. Being an insider he would have had knowledge of the negotiations with Mindtree (and perhaps other potential buyers) many months before the acquisition was announced. By exaggerating HANA and Bluefin Solutions’ involvement in HANA projects, Appleby would have considerably increased the price of the buyout and thus his compensation. In financial manipulation, pushing up the price of an asset that you know will decline after you sell it is called “pump and dump.” And it looks like this is what Appleby did with Bluefin Solutions.
Appleby’s Departure from Bluefin Solutions
Appleby convinced the world how great Bluefin Solutions’ HANA practice was, that he led. Yet after the acquisition, Appleby leaves Bluefin Solutions along with other founders. Why? To us, it seems quite likely that post-acquisition, Mindtree found out the truth about Bluefin Solutions’ HANA practice. And recall that Bluefin Solutions was also being sold on “explosive” growth in HANA. So Mindtree was buying the future. This was a future that never materialized.
The overstatement of the HANA practice along with the lack of growth meeting the pre-acquisition expectations would have created friction with his owners. While it is not that unusual for founders to leave a consulting firm, if Appleby was a major asset to Bluefin Solutions, and part of the reason for its acquisition, it seems odd that Mindtree did not incentivize him to stay.
Bluefin Solutions 4 Years Post Acquisition
Bluefin Solutions has seen its prominence decline in the SAP market since the acquisition. Four years ago HANA had great growth plans, but in 2015, SAP stopped reporting customer numbers as we covered in the article Why Did SAP Stop Reporting HANA Numbers After 2015?
The reason for this was simple.
SAP was able to falsely publish its numbers of customers in the 2012 to 2015 timeframe with various consulting companies being counted as customers. However, after the ecosystem had been counted as customers, it was no longer possible to show a growth story, because HANA never took off. If SAP had continued to publish customer number for HANA per quarter as they had been, it would have been apparent that HANA’s growth had leveled off, and it would have undermined the previous statements that HANA’s growth was “explosive,” (Ron Enslin) or that HANA was “the fastest growing product in SAP’s history.” (McDermott, Appleby) After this point, SAP switched to publishing S/4HANA numbers.
Mindtree could have been forgiven for thinking it was purchasing an up and coming consulting firm, one with a special relationship between its “Global Head of HANA” and Hasso Plattner. But what Mindtree did not know, and could not have known as they were not a firm with SAP knowledge (Mindtree was purchasing Bluefin Solutions to gain entry into the SAP market), is that most of the information John Appleby and Bluefin Solutions were releasing to the market was false. This would eventually have blowback, and if Bluefin Solutions were selling privately to customers on the same basis as the claims Appleby was making in print, it is an absolute certainty that Bluefin S0lutions ended up with many disappointed customers.
Even though Bluefin Solutions is listed has having somewhere between 200 employees, its website traffic has dropped to less than 10,000 page views in March of 2019 and they are clearly an SAP consulting company on the decline.
Who is to Blame?
Those within Bluefin Solutions that we have spoken with primarily blame the “incompetent Indian management” of Mindtree for their decline, and the fact that the Mindtree management does not understand the SAP market.
However, the decline of HANA, which was the main item that differentiated Bluefin Solutions has also hurt. Not only did the HANA market level out, but the second implementation market that Bluefin Solutions had intended to leverage their HANA media prominence to enter, S/4HANA, never materialized.
“Our S/4HANA team has certified SAP HANA specialists across 33 countries including SAP Mentors and HANA Distinguished Engineers. We are SAP’s preferred implementation partner in the S/4HANA space and are fast becoming the leading S/4HANA subject matter expert and S/4HANA delivery partner in the market.”
The quotations on Bluefin Solutions’ website even in 2019 are odd. Bluefin is a company of roughly 200 people, however, they claim HANA specialists in 33 countries. If there were an average of 3 HANA specialists per country this would amount of 99 HANA specialists in total.
Even though there are extremely few companies live on S/4HANA, Bluefin Solutions is also the “the leading S/4HANA subject matter expert.” Consulting firms are not entirely composed of consultants. They have salespeople, administrative staff, etc.. Bluefin Solutions statements would mean that they would rapidly run out of consultants.
Here are the solutions where Bluefin Solutions claims expertise.
- Enterprise Performance Management
- Travel and Expense Management
- Fiori and SAPUI5
- SAP Cloud Platform
- SAP Managed Services
Bluefin Solutions continues to distribute false information about HANA with or without Appleby. Notice that this service offering page describes a solution that is still being developed, which is made up of acquisitions. But as we covered in the article How Accurate Was Bluefin Solutions on C4HANA?
C/4HANA is still being developed and made up of the following solutions.
“In a press release today SAP stated: “Following the completed acquisitions of market leaders Hybris, Gigya and CallidusCloud, SAP now ties together solutions to support all front-office functions, such as consumer data protection, marketing, commerce, sales and customer service.””
Yet Bluefin Solutions wrote an article about C/4 as a functioning product right after it was acquired. Does Bluefin Solutions actually have resources in Hybris, CallidusCloud and Gigya? Again, how are all these various areas of expertise fitting into the number of consultants that Bluefin Solutions has?
It looks extremely likely that Appleby was particularly motivated to exaggerate HANA’s capabilities and Bluefin Solutions’ HANA practice due to an impending acquisition by some company (the winner being Mindtree).
As for the second factor, there are repeated cases where Appleby lists customers doing things with HANA that don’t make any match up with our research into HANA. These cases seem to demonstrate Bluefin Solutions standing up massive HANA instances, almost as if they have no limit to their budgets. Brightwork Research & Analysis has performed more research on HANA than any other entity and we find it highly unlikely that Appleby and Bluefin Solutions were doing what they claimed with HANA.
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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.
Getting to the Detail of TCO
The Mechanics of TCO
- Understand why you need to look at TCO and not just ROI when making your purchasing decision.
- Discover how an application, which at first glance may seem inexpensive when compared to its competition, could end up being more costly in the long run.
- Gain an in-depth understanding of the cost, categories to include in an accurate and complete TCO analysis.
- Learn why ERP systems are not a significant investment, based on their TCO.
- Find out how to recognize and avoid superficial, incomplete or incorrect TCO analyses that could negatively impact your software purchase decision.
- Appreciate the importance and cost-effectiveness of a TCO audit.
- Learn how SCM Focus can provide you with unbiased and well-researched TCO analyses to assist you in your software selection.
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: The Basics of TCO
- Chapter 3: The State of Enterprise TCO
- Chapter 4: ERP: The Multi-Billion Dollar TCO Analysis Failure
- Chapter 5: The TCO Method Used by Software Decisions
- Chapter 6: Using TCO for Better Decision Making