James Governor's Monkchips

Who Needs Analysts? On SAP vs Oracle, and open source competitive intelligence

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Venture Chronicles

It wasn’t so long ago that IT vendors would use industry analyst firms as prophylactics when they wanted to “fight the numbers”. Claim, counterclaim, with analyst firm as beneficiary. The analyst didn’t need to say they got the numbers from the vendors themselves and the racket continued.

So it was interesting to see Jeff Nolan post some stats questioning recent claims by Oracle about competitive kick outs against SAP.

I love this – it means anyone can look to parse the truth or otherwise of Oracle’s claims. Obviously SAP’s data is open to question, just as Oracle’s is… but then so would it be if it came from an analyst firm…

I posted recently about the changing nature of competitive intelligence, and Jeff Nolan is an exemplar here. Why go to a third party to plant the seeds of market doubt or “clarification”, when you can do it yourself?

Jeff basically breaks out some information that may not quite amount to a deal by deal analysis, but is certainly the kind of indepth information IT vendors use when talking to analysts, particularly the counters.


“Having said all that, we took a look at our competitive data and concluded that it is mathematically impossible for Oracle to have 585 actual wins against SAP in their last fiscal year. The simplest argument I can make is that we had to go back 6 quarters to identify 585 competitive deals against Oracle, and I don’t think it would shock you to learn that we certainly don’t lose to them 100% of the time.

Once we felt comfortable on our win/loss data we had to wonder what the hell Oracle is claiming. The only answer I can give is that Oracle is claiming every win for them in the last year as a win against SAP on the basis of the market being a duopoly and if they didn’t get the deal then we would have. This is pretty thin, IMO, because there are a few other competitors in enterprise software and a large number of deals that either vendor signs in any given time period are “roll-ups” where existing license are being consolidated under a new deal, meaning Oracle is presumably claiming non-competitive roll-up deals as wins against SAP.”

We can all be industry analysts now. Dennis says

” Maybe that explains SAPs last quarter top line sales dump. Maybe, when CEO Kagermann explains the results, we’ll see deal details. Now that really would be interesting. Side effect? No more guesswork about who’s doing what. Or having to pay IDC/Gartner for those numbers.”

Radical transparency – I won’t hold my breath but I will offer Jeff an ovation for getting this information out there.


  1. James,

    While I’m in complete agreement that what Jeff is doing is interesting and innovative, unfortunately like many things, he’s also blazing a trail that few have had the vision to follow yet.

    Much like the Sapphire Blogger’s Corner, Jeff’s fight for transparency remains very much a Jeff Nolan and SAP thing, for now.

    Hopefully other companies, IT-related or not, will see the positive impact of these kinds of initiatives and delve into them, as well.



  2. Jeff has a corner to fight and ‘we’ will naturally put a sceptical eye on what he says – n’est pas? Same for anyone else who chooses to do the same.

    We know Jeff’s expose has bias and Jeff acknowledges that. But – and here’s the difference…Jeff’s exposing the bodies. Something Kagermann tacitly acknowledged on today’s call and which newshounds grasped with gusto but without understanding the context (sigh.)

    Jeff’s naming of names gives everyone with an interest (analyst/competitor/newshound/customer) an opportunity to go off and test his claims. For that, I must give him credit. Even though I know he has an agenda.

    The flip side is Jeff knows that if gets caught in a porky – the likes of thee and me will use our foghorns to kick his sorry ass – hard.

    After 15+ years with a lens on this mucky business, that’s something I consider brave. How many others will follow? Any predictions? Or do the bodies stink so much even the vendors can’t stand the stench?

  3. i get that jason. but where sap leads others will likely follow. of coures not everyone gets transparency but that won’t stop me from encouraging it.

    dennis – its a six and two threes. like we both say the more available information, the better decisions we can hopefully all make. its not about muck – its about brass… 😉

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