SAP’s Anti-Competitive Tactics – The Two Faces of the SAP Software Vendor Partnership

Executive Summary

  • The reality of the SAP Partnership Program is far different than what is usually presented.
  • This article explains the two sides of SAP’s vendor partnership program.

Video Introduction: SAP Partnership Program

Text Introduction (Skip if You Watched the Video)

SAP has the most extensive vendor partnership program of any software vendor worldwide. This program presents the following characteristics to SAP customers and the outside world. SAP has enormous control over its partners, and the arrangement is anti-competitive and corrupt. Once in a partnership with SAP, SAP has approval over the partner’s marketing, often restricting any language that would make a vendor partner from being competitive with an SAP product. You will learn how SAP has weaponized its partnership program against partners.

Notice of Lack of Financial Bias: We have no financial ties to SAP or any other entity mentioned in this article.

  • This is published by a research entity, not some lowbrow entity that is part of the SAP ecosystem. 
  • Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department. As you are reading this article, consider how rare this is. The vast majority of information on the Internet on SAP is provided by SAP, which is filled with false claims and sleazy consulting companies and SAP consultants who will tell any lie for personal benefit. Furthermore, SAP pays off all IT analysts -- who have the same concern for accuracy as SAP. Not one of these entities will disclose their pro-SAP financial bias to their readers. 

How SAP Presents Its Partnership Program

  • A Collaborative Affair: SAP presents this partner network to customers as a highly collaborative affair.
  • A Vibrant Vendor Ecosystem: The partnership program is used as evidence that SAP has a vendor ecosystem and allows other software vendors to participate in this ecosystem for mutual benefit.
  • How Many Partners: SAP often talks up how many vendor partners it has without revealing much about how the vendor partner program works.
  • Partner’s Freedom of Expression: Not a single word is uttered regarding what happens to the partner vendors’ rights of expression.
  • A Pro-Competitive Tool: Appearances to the contrary, SAP uses the vendor partner program as an anti-competitive tool, something for which it is close to impossible to find published material.
  • One Big Happy Family: Vendor partners discuss the SAP vendor program with prospects and do not critique it publicly or to customers or prospects. In private, they often bitterly condemn SAP as a partner.

The Two Faces of SAP on Vendor Partnership

SAP is duplicitous in how it manages the partnership program. It presents one face to its partner software vendors and a different look to its customers.

  • SAP does all it can to dissuade customers from using non-SAP applications.
  • Since its inception, SAP has made its software extremely difficult to integrate two other non-SAP applications. Once it captures the ERP system, it uses it to block out other software vendors by arguing that different designs are complicated to integrate — directing the customer to more and more SAP products.
  • SAP and its partner consulting companies do all they can to downplay non-SAP applications to their customers.

The argument of integration and integrated functionality has been used for decades by SAP and SAP consulting companies. This keeps SAP customers away from using applications that are not SAP even when that application is a far better fit for the customer’s requirements and a far more capable application.

SAP does not want any of its vendor partners to succeed. SAP thinks about it. The money given to a vendor partner is money taken from SAP. SAP believes this even if they don’t have a viable product in the vendor partner’s space. As a result, SAP will often announce products designed to stall the purchase of partner SAP vendor applications.

Taking Ideas and Ways of Operating from Other Software Vendors through Partnership

SAP does not respect other software vendors’ creation and intellectual property. I have been in some meetings with SAP where at some point during the discussion with our client regarding using other vendors to meet functionality requirements that SAP could not comply with, the SAP resource stated that SAP was

“…always scanning the horizon for functionality, and eventually will put any functionality into its own applications.”

Because of this, there was never any reason to look outside SAP, as anything outside of SAP would eventually reside inside, and you could buy it from SAP.

And in fact, this is how it works. If a new enterprise software area becomes “hot,” SAP generally extends a “partnership” agreement to a vendor. This allows SAP to pretend that they are somehow related to the software category (even though they don’t have an offering). They then attempt to reverse engineer the software vendor’s product to offer their competitive product.

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