- SAP pays large numbers of IT media entities in both advertising and in paid placements.
- We review the accuracy of the IT media on SAP.
In our research, A Study into the Accuracy of SAP, we evaluated significant pronouncements by SAP and measured their accuracy. This study demonstrated very low accuracy on the part of SAP.
This research is connected to and an extension of that research by evaluating the accuracy of IT media entities for the same pronouncements/announcements made in the previous analysis. But in this study, we evaluated how the media entities covered each pronouncement/announcement by SAP. As much of this information is released through IT media entities and being published on SAP’s websites, the question to be asked is how much are IT media entities repeaters of SAP’s proposals.
This table is still being built. Soon it will have the number of sources that verified statements and projections by SAP and a calculation of the total average percentage of verified accounts versus overall articles.
IT-Media Coverage Notes
Which Articles Were Included
Google does an excellent job of sorting by relevance versus the search term. As we moved down the list, articles tended to be less relevant. If the subject was just tangentially mentioned and not the main topic of the article, we omitted that article in the calculation.
SAP Netweaver was often appended to previously existing products. For a while, SAP BW was called Netweaver BW. SAP Process Integration (PI) was called Netweaver PI.
When we reviewed the articles on Netweaver, we did not include or analyze any Netweaver article about a different application. We only included articles that covered Netweaver as an infrastructure component. When the Netweaver integration infrastructure was involved with other items (like PI or BW, or MDM), we did count that article.
The Reason for IT Media’s Inaccuracy
There are important reasons why the IT media entities, by in large, do not contradict SAP.
- Financial Self Censorship: The IT media entities that cover SAP can’t write what they want. They rely upon SAP as a funding source. Therefore they primarily act to help SAP get its message out. One of Brightwork’s significant conclusions into the IT media system is that virtually every media source that provides information on SAP also receives money from SAP. Furthermore, in rare cases, such as with Diginomica and Forrester, the media source gets some income from SAP is declared (and the amount is never declared). The vast majority of IT media entities usually do not report any financial relationship to SAP. And even entities like ComputerWeekly, which are mere “eyeball generators” for what is a marketing automation backend managed by TechTarget, which is covered in the article How ComputerWeekly is a Front for Marketing Automation.
- SAP Direct Ownership: Some IT media entities like ASUG and Digitalist are either financially owned or have so little independence from SAP that it may also be SAP. For example, articles on SAP’s Digitalist online magazine are often reprints of information released on SAP. ASUG’s media output is quite apparently taken directly from SAP.
- Insufficiently Knowledgeable Writers: Many IT media entities do not employ writers who have sufficient knowledge about the technology or have ever been on projects that are the coverage area’s topic. These types of writers are at a disadvantage in pushing back on statements from the vendor.
- No Editorial Interest in Verifying Claims: There is a small market for writers that verify the vendor’s statements. The vast majority of income available to media entities is by merely repeating the messaging of sell-side entities. The only entities that tended to validate what SAP stated, or contradict it, were IT analysts or tiny publications, usually from a person with first-hand IT experience.
Therefore, they cannot be accurate because they do not have freedom of speech.
No entity can consistently score this low by accident.
Where is this accuracy tracked? The answer is nowhere. No entity anywhere published the accuracy of SAPs statements. The largest sell-side entities control the IT media system, and the vast majority of the entities pretend to be traditional magazines that serve the reader’s interests, when in fact, that leverage that trust to sell out the interests of the reader. One perfect example of this is the media source Digitalist. Digitalist is owned by SAP. However, SAP already has its website; it can release as much messaging as it wishes. Therefore, why did it create Digitalist? We can’t know for sure, but it appears that it allows SAP to release more information on a source that appears not to be SAP’s website. In this way, they cut out the middleman and own the media entity rather than pay the media entity to repeat their messaging. How SAP presents the creation of Digitalist is amusing.
“We created the Digitalist magazine to help C-level executives be leaders in the digital economy, and ultimately transform their organizations and the world itself into a better-run world,” Mr. Woods said.
The strategy fits into SAP’s overall “Run Simple” positioning, he added.”
Interestingly, this quotation focuses on the supposed benefits of Digitalist rather than merely stating it is another pathway to getting SAP’s message out. The quote finishes with a falsehood, SAP’s marketing slogan called Run Simple, that we debunked in our previous research into SAP’s article.
“The Digitalist is headed up by Editor in Chief Elana Varon, who was previously executive editor at CIO magazine. The articles are written primarily by outside contributors, including business and technology journalists, as well as by some SAP subject-matter experts.”
Interestingly, Elana Varon’s selection, who previously accepted paid placements from SAP for CIO magazine, has an excellent background to produce more SAP messaging/propaganda. But this time was working directly for SAP.
Feedback From Our Criticism
Someone at Diginomica recently told us that our research into SAP is not “constructive.” Furthermore, that we/Brightwork Research & Analysis are not thought of well in the SAP community.
The SAP community is considered to be.
- SAP Consulting Partners
- SAP Software Partners
It is not considered to include IT media entities and IT media entities. It is well documented that SAP consulting partners and SAP software partners close to repeat SAP’s messaging universally. But this study illustrates that, for the most part, so do the IT media entities.
The statement is undoubtedly true of the first two entities. We challenge what SAP says, show their inaccuracy, and have pointed out many times that SAP consulting partners look after their own and SAP’s interests far over their client’s interests. SAP consulting partners are major promulgators of false information about SAP, mostly repeating SAP’s messaging. However, we dispute our placement regarding the SAP community’s third leg, which is SAP software partners. In this part of the community, we are quite popular, although most of these entities must be silent about their support publicly as they fear offending SAP.
Who Verifies SAP?
What this leaves is the conclusion is that there is very little independent verification of SAP. Furthermore, the fact-checking research on Brightwork is considered unconstructive on the part of the SAP community. This is not surprising in the same way that it would not be surprising to learn that politicians don’t find fact-checking entities like Politifact to be “constructive.” The smoothest way for any IT media entity to operate is to solicit funding from the sell-side and serve as a passive message repeater. It is also the pathway for the least conflict. By publishing positive information, you receive the endorsement of the community that makes money off of SAP.
There are virtually no considerations as to whether the information published is accurate. The intent is profit maximization, which is profit maximization for SAP, the publishing entity, and the community that makes money off SAP. And as the income from the buyer side has mostly been eliminated, with much of it going into the pockets of Google that produced no content, this is the present and the future of our media system.
Is it True that Media Entities Paid by SAP are Merely “Reporting the News”
Forbes and Computer Weekly will tell you that they are merely reporting the news. – That is from companies that pay them. Curiously, these publications don’t cover the announcements from smaller vendors with any similar frequency.
It’s almost like funding drives media coverage. The funding seems to determine not only how messaging is covered, whether it is questioned or repeated, but who’s messaging takes precedence.
These results are damning of the current IT media system. The system is controlled by SAP and primarily serves as a medium to get out SAP’s messaging. The information these media entities provide is unreliable, and the common denominator is that each of them relies upon SAP and other industry sources for funding. Only two of these entities, Forrester and Diginomica, even attempt to inform their readers that they are funded by SAP. The rest keep it a secret from their readers, clearly hoping that they never figure it out.