January 3, 2007

Typical nonsense from SAP

Below, essentially in its entirety, is an e-mail I just received from SAP, today, January 3. (Emphasis mine.)

Thank you for attending SAPs 4th Annual Analyst Summit in Las Vegas. We hope you found the time to be valuable. To ensure that we continue meeting your informational needs, please take a few moments to complete our online survey by using the link below. We ask that you please complete the survey before December 20. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

What makes this typical piece of SAP over-organization particularly amusing is that I didn’t actually attend the event. I was planning to, but after considerable effort I think I finally made it clear to VP of Analyst Relations Don Bulmer that I was fed up with being lied to* by him and his colleagues. In connection with that, we came to a mutual agreement, as it were, that I wouldn’t go.

*and lied about

Obviously, administrative ineptitude and dishonesty are two very different matters, united only by the fact that they both are characteristics of SAP, particularly its analyst relations group. Having said that, I should hasten to add that there are plenty of people at SAP I still trust. If Peter Zencke or Lothar Schubert tells me something, I expect it to be true. And it’s not just Germans; I feel the same way about Dan Rosenberg or Andrew Cabanski-Dunning, to name just a couple non-German SAP guys.

But I have to say this — both SAP’s ethics and its internal business processes are sufficiently screwed up as to cast doubt on SAP’s qualifications to “run the world’s best-run businesses.”


12 Responses to “Typical nonsense from SAP”

  1. Dennis Howlett on January 8th, 2007 4:07 pm

    This is a bit harsh without additional explanation. Can you elaborate what you mean by ‘lied to…and lied about?’

    Similarly, how are SAP’s ‘ethics and its internal processes…sufficiently screwed up?’

  2. David Tebbutt on January 8th, 2007 4:14 pm

    Sounds like regular semi-automated incompetence to me.

  3. Curt Monash on January 9th, 2007 1:00 am


    Usually, companies show their best faces to analysts. Or if they don’t, they fall down in different ways than I experienced with SAP (e.g., they’re stupidly secretive, they’re inappropriately combative, they overhype, etc.). SAP, by way of contrast, engaged in some bad ethical behavior with me, and when I called them on it wound up compounding it multiple times over, up to the level of clearcut lies. That’s not a fatal condemnation of the company; it’s just a warning flag.

    At this point, I don’t see where it’s a great idea to delve down into the specifics. (Events could change my mind of course.) But I did feel it was more appropriate to be fairly straightforward about what I am thinking here than to just hint around it for some indeterminate, possibly long period of time.

  4. David Tebbutt on January 9th, 2007 4:37 am

    Strikes me that you’re hinting around like fury. How about writing a private note to Dennis that he can verify. Then he can post a validation of your comments here.

  5. Curt Monash on January 9th, 2007 5:51 am

    Arggh. Maybe this outline will add a little clarity. However, let me say in advance that I have no intention of trying to provide enough detail that an outside observer can judge who is right and who is wrong. Nobody is going to pursue a legal remedy here, for all sorts of obvious reasons, and absent that there’s not going to be any indepedent adjudication. Sorry.

    Anyhow, the context to my comments is this: I had a fairly standard situation with SAP in which they bought some services, had an internal management change, and had second thoughts as a result. And as is common in such awkward situations, there was some stringing-along and so on. When things finally became clear, I said in effect “Whoa. That’s highly unethical.” And they said, in effect, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Up to that point, the story is one of an ordinary business dispute, and we all know that big companies sometimes have sharp elbows. Of course, I was right and they were wrong, and there aren’t even two legitimate sides to the matter, but you’re free to not believe me, since I’m not going to try to prove my case here.

    However, from there they were left with the problem of “handling” my outrage. Unfortunately, they chose a path of downright lies (and of course all sorts of other nonsense mixed in). Not only is that bad, but it leads me to suspect that the original problem stems from more deliberate and/or reckless dishonesty than my recounting above suggests.

    As for why I called them out on it publicly, rather than swallowing it and moving on? Multiple reasons, none of which I particularly feel like sharing, except that I direct your attention to the phrase “and lied about” that I used in the original post.

    OK. That’s more than I planned to say, so please let’s not have more nudging for more details. If you’re unsatisfied, tough.


  6. Dennis Howlett on January 10th, 2007 2:32 pm

    I’m none the wiser. Sorry. Why should I believe anything you say if you’re not prepared to substantiate? You opened the box and to use the word ‘lie’ requires some explanation. I’ve followed SAP for 14 years and while I know the secretive bit very well, my sense is they’re changing. I find they’re far more open than 2 years ago let alone 14. So I’m sorry – without any validation you can squirm as much as you like but I’m afraid you’re starting to look like a ranting bore.

  7. Curt Monash on January 11th, 2007 1:50 am


    It seems I created for you the expectation that I would engage in a detailed, more or less classical, flame war. (Or at least a one-sided one, as I don’t think SAP wants to engage in that.) I’m sorry for any confusion. That was not and is not my intention.

    I publish blogs for free; and I must admit that for that and other reasons I do not always do everything I could to be maximally persuasive to every one of my readers. If my neglect in this regard causes you to become an ex-reader, I will have to accept the disappointment and move on.


  8. Curt Monash on October 27th, 2008 7:45 pm

    Hmm. Haven’t reread this for a while …

    It’s common for large companies to have furious internal discussions about how to handle a particular analyst, reporter, or other influencer. Microsoft gets the most press for this, I think, but they clearly all do it. One place Don Bulmer went beyond the pale is when he reflected some of those conversations back to me, very inaccurately. E.g., Don misquoted Dennis Moore, presumably not knowing that Dennis and I used to talk for 4-5 hours at a time. Dennis might successfully deceive me on a product feature, but if Don Bulmer tells me Dennis Moore said something very uncharacteristic of him, and Dennis denies it, I confidently assume Don Bulmer is the one who’s lying. Especially since Don said a number of other implausible or obviously insincere things in the same discussions …

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