- Many entities in the enterprise space discuss their partnerships and relationships.
- We have done just the opposite to maintain our neutrality (and sanity).
One of the worst things about working in research in the enterprise software space deals with vendors. After years of interacting with vendors, we arrived at our no vendor relationship policy in 2020.
The Issues We Found Interacting with Vendors
The relationship between vendors and media entities and analysts (Brightwork is a research entity, so not exactly a media entity nor an analyst) is that they seek to influence them to get favorable coverage. Vendors have people called alliance managers who suck up to influence media entities and analysts to get favorable coverage. They know nothing about the product but know how to manipulate people.
Common Issue with Vendors
The following are things we have run into.
Item #1: Deluded Vendor Employees
People who work in vendors are generally in a deluded state regarding both their products and their business practices. We have had people from ORACLE complain about the ethics at SAP. One Oracle employee told us that while he thought that Hasso Plattner lied a lot, that Larry Ellison was..
“A pretty good guy.”
Just let that roll through your mind and take it in. Larry Ellison is a pretty good guy.
Item #2: Developing Special Hypocrisy Training
The problem was so bad we created a special article describing hypocrisy for Oracle employees Teaching Oracle About Hypocrisy on Lock-In. Each vendor employee seems to think that dishonest behavior is only something that exists at other vendors and is the only thing they are interested in discussing. You either agree with them or end up in a confrontation.
The information that is published at Brightwork Research & Analysis is some of the most accurate in the entire enterprise software space (here is our accuracy versus SAP in the article A Study into SAP’s Accuracy)
Because of this, we don’t think we need to have what is accurately explained to us by financially biased individuals that have quickly findable false or exaggerated information right on their company’s website. Or who makes an excuse that..
“That is just marketing talking.”
“I tend to ignore the marketing our company produces and just focus on the demos.”
Item #3: The Self Appointed and Arbiters of What is Right and Wrong: From a Position of 100% Financially Bias
Vendors typically categorize media and analysts as either “understanding their technology” (those that give them good reviews) or “not understanding their technology” (and giving them bad reviews or disagreeing with them). There are two choices: effusive praise (in which case you are lauded) or skepticism around claims, which results in accusations of technological ignorance.
We find it curious that the vendor we are speaking with always has the best feature, and their competitors have the worst feature in each case. And when the person we knew from a vendor we are talking with switches jobs to a new vendor, it seems to be reversed immediately. A lot of this is covered up with humor — such as..
“I know I said that before.”
“You might say I am a little biased.”
It requires explaining how a person who draws 100% of their compensation from an entity is only “a little biased.”
If that is not entirely biased, then what is the definition of bias?
Item #4: Overflowing with Salespeople
Our primary function is to fact-check claims. This puts us on the exact opposite side of the playing field from salespeople. Vendors are filled with overbearing and presumptuous salespeople that we often find irritating and anti-intellectual. Furthermore, false statements by vendors salespeople seem to have enlarged since we first started working in the enterprise software field. One SAP salesperson justified their lies to use by saying that..
“The world is a corrupt place.”
And he was doing what he could to make it more corrupt.
Typical Vendor Marketing Scammers
We typically get software vendors who reach out to us to try to scam us. The following is a perfect example of this. From Revelation Software, a vendor we had noticed had been reading our LinkedIn shares and then borderline plagiarized our work in an article.
I would like to introduce myself. My name is Fiona Quill and I have started as the Marketing Manager for Revelation Software Concepts.
Your name was given to me as a blogger I should follow and I wanted to see if you could include some of our blogs on your sites?
I am not sure if there are fees involved etc. so I am looking to get some information.
If you would prefer a phone call, let me know and I will set one up.
Here is Fiona’s attempt to put her false marketing information on the Brightwork website. This is what vendors do — they create false information and then try to associate it with actual research.
We don’t allow anyone to contribute to the Brightwork website, and we don’t take payment for content that is on the site.
Next is another reach out from the marketing department at Revelation Software.
Hey Shaun! Thanks for connecting with me. I enjoyed your article on the accuracy of SAP, and think your book “Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk” would be a fantastic read.
My name is Shane Kennedy, and I work for Rev-Trac. We are a SAP transport management product, and risk reduction as something we see as highly important. Since you’re passionate about SAP and all its products, I thought I would reach out to see if you would be open to collaborating with us?
Let me know if you are interested, and I will send more details!
Observe the deceptive language. First, Shane begins with a bunch of flattery. This is always the case when any person reaches out from a vendor, and it is repetitive. Now, after the initial flattery, part two is about how Shane can exploit us. Observe the term “passionate.” “Passionate” means that Shane wants to leverage our IP and then convert that into revenues for Rev-Trac, but then consume our time for free and then flatter their way to getting free stuff. See, it is “passion” for us, and $$$ for Rev-Trac. That is why he is framing our interest in non-financial terms. This type of attempted exploitation is considered entirely normal by marketing departments.
Why not deceive someone if you can improve your position? You can then brag about how you “create relationships” (that is exploit) influencers, and ask for a raise. Just reach out, and ask for free things. After “All they can say is no.” Why worry about whether your request is reasonable — just dress that exploitive request up in some chipper positive language. Use the word “great,” or “passionate,” in the email also.
The final intent is for Shane to obtain an association with us and receive some type of endorsement. Brightwork Research & Analysis writes about risk management on SAP projects, and Rev-Trac offers some products in this area, so essentially, Shane is proposing that we must be friends for life. However, there is a bit of a problem here — and that is that Shane works in marketing while we are a serious research entity. So no, there is a big difference.
This is our response.
Hi Shane, My name is Cynthia, and I accepted your invite on behalf of Shaun as I manage his LinkedIn account. So the reason we don’t collaborate with vendors is that collaboration normally means either some type of free work or time consumed on our part that does not lead to revenues – which is sort of the same thing. We have been through many rounds of discussions with many vendors over a 12 year period, and the result of collaboration invitations always goes down this familiar pathway. We normally field inquires from those that have an interest in hiring us to perform research. The only research software vendors will pay for is competitive intelligence, and the generally low amounts, or fake research, where the research entity or fake research entity (Gartner, Forrester, etc..) delivers a paper for money. See this article. Shaun wrote up an analysis of a number of IT analyst firms and found the same dynamic at every firm he analyzed.
Then this was Shane’s response. Observe that Shane does not engage in any of the observations Cynthia has made because, essentially, Shane has realized that we are not interested in his parasitic offer.
Hey Cynthia, thanks so much for getting back to me.
Understood regarding collaboration… out of interest are you able to provide pricing for competitive research?
We provided the cost of our initial $7,000 research package and found that after months, Shane never even bothered to read our response.
After we denied interest in being a pawn in helping to deceive their prospects, Shane asked about a subject he had no interest to save face.
We have disconnected from all Revelation Software resources we were connected to. Every reach-out from them was designed to run a scam on us, that would have eventually led (if we allowed it) to them corrupting information on the website. That is the intent of virtually every single vendor that reaches out.
Development of Our Policy Regarding Vendors
We began by publishing research into vendors like SAP and Oracle, exposing things that no other company would expose. Little did I know that this would lead to constant requests by the marketing departments in other software vendors that had no interest in what was true, but merely sought to use this research as a foil to make money off it and to not only benefit from the research but to exploit us by any means necessary. Over time, it became apparent that we didn’t need to talk to vendors and that vendors added very little to our existence and did nothing but consume time. For some reason, people in marketing or sales think we are interested in speaking with them. We have no idea why. Why would we care what a person who lies for a living has to say? We are not free psychiatrists for the software vendor community. Secondly, the information they provide is invariably biased in their favor, and every conversation no matter how innocuously it appears to begin, (and it is always so friendly!) is just the softening up stage before they make some exploitive request. This is the problem with IT analysts (which we are not, we are a research entity), the IT analysts eventually end up being captured by software vendors.
Therefore, we began shutting down our connections to vendors, yet they keep reaching out. And it is not only vendors. Hedge funds, consulting firms who lied to their clients about their knowledge and need their bacon saved for free. The line of dishonorable individuals with their hands out is long.
We created this article to explain to vendors and other interested parties why we have no vendor relationships.
When I first started Brightwork Research & Analysis, I thought it would be sufficient to have no financial ties to any vendor. Finally, I concluded that this was not sufficient, and we also needed to have no relationships with vendors.