Mokita: The truth that everyone knows, but no-one talks about.

One of my favorite words, mokita. They say it’s from New Guinea. For those of us in the e2.0 echo chamber who’ve been tracking the developments in this sector, the mokita on e2.0 is that IT and “the movement” are somewhat at odds with eachother. Jeff Nolan put it out on the table this week and threw down a gauntlet with this post. It was promptly responded to by Mike Gotta.

Chris Anderson (the Long Tail) posted his remarks on speaking at a recent CIO conference:

CIOs, it turns out, are mostly business people who have been given the thankless job of keeping the lights on, IT wise. And the best way to ensure that they stay on is to change as little as possible.

That puts many CIOs in the position of not being the technology innovator in their company, but rather the dead weight keeping the real technology innovators–employees who want to use the tools increasingly available on the wide-open Web to help them do their jobs better–from taking matters into their own hands.

In fairness, the CIOs have a pretty tough job. Nobody thanks them when the network works and the data is backed up, but they get fired when things go wrong. No surprise that they’re so risk-adverse and conservative. The pesky users keep trying to, you know, do new things. This causes unpredictable outcomes. Which must be avoided.

The consequence of this is that many CIOs are now just one step above Building Maintenance. They have the unpleasant job of mopping up data spills when they happen, along with enforcing draconian data retention policies sent down from the legal department. They respond to trouble tickets and disable user permissions. They practice saying “No”, not “What if…” And they block the ports used by the most popular services, from Skype to Second Life, which always reminds me of the old joke about the English shopkeeper who, when asked what happened to a certain product, answered “We don’t stock it anymore. It kept selling out.”

Chris goes on to talk about the Gen-Yers who will populate the business community in the near future. The comments from readers are as interesting as Chris’ original post.

Meanwhile, we’ve been discussing these issues in the groups. In defense of IT, Thomas Otter had a good comment for me:

I’m with Mike on this one.
Why is it that the original posterchild for enterprise 2.0 is
DresdnerKleinwort and the driver was the CIO?
Casting this as “battle” with IT is simply wrong. Some CIO’s and IT
departments get this. Others don’t. At least in my experience, it is
often the IT department that is likely to be using WIKIS and the like first.
If I look here at SAP the developer wiki use is far richer and deeper than
that of sales marketing accounts etc.
I’d suggest rereading Andrew McAfee’s Mastering the Three Worlds of
Information Technology.
There is more innovation going on in the average IT department than most of
us imagine. Check out what the guys are Colgate are up

What I know for sure is… this revolution we’re starting may not be bloody, but it’s about to get loud.

Author: Susan Scrupski

Longtime fan of technology to improve humanity.

13 thoughts on “Mokita: The truth that everyone knows, but no-one talks about.”

  1. Susan, a bit late with my travels but here goes

    It is open season on the CIO. But check out any large corporation’s IT budget and 80% is spent on external vendors – sw, hw, services and telecomms – and only 20% on CIO and IT staff. And that 80% is stubbbornly difficult to bring down (I know – I help CIOs negotiate IBM, SAP, Oracle and the incumbent vendors down). And the savings that do come out of this has been increasingly forced into compliance/risk mgt spend especially in companies where the CIO reports to the CFO.

    And for the few pennies left for innovation spend they have web 2.0, telemetry, mobility, virtualizaion, and a bunch of other new stuff competing for the CIOs attention.

    Most CIOs I know are not fat or lazy – they flat have little room to maneuver. You want CIOs to implement all the cool new web 2.0 stuff coming out of the Valley – pick on the real culprit. Go after the lack of innovation in the 80% that is spent on major incumbent vendors. Free up dollars from there.

    And then have web 2.0 stuff show better payback than a mobile app or telemetry app or a data center consolidation project.Even fat, lazy CIOs will be jumping for that stuff…In meantime, good luck finding business users with IT dollars to spare and the cajones to tell the CFO his security, compliance concerns are worth blowing off.

    PS – Mojito. Cuban for life is good -)

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks – that means a lot! I never really gave that all much thought just did what I thought needed to be done (got enough heat and still do for working that way as well I guess) – did you see the new posts about the RFC SDK group now communicating directly with the RFC Connector builders? Ruby and Perl connectors have been totally rebuilt on the new RFC that’s also been totally rebuilt and is now up for testing and much to our surprise there are a ton of SAPMats links now posted on SDN for people to download the RFC SDK (way ahead of schedule) to give the new Ruby and Perl connectors a thorough run through. (both SOA and RFC)

    We still fight but now we notice we’ve got several on the sideline now wanting to “tag” in and go at it with us.

    Have a great one!


  3. Jeff,
    I’m convinced the role of the CIO is changing, but I think the fort metaphor isnt apt. Over the last decade the role of the CFO has changed dramatically, as has the HR Head. CIO’s will adapt too, well, some will some won’t.

    By the way.
    IPP-ISP etc and all the major internal systems are all on ERP 2005.

  4. Craig,
    SDN is one of the best things to happen to SAP in years, but like most such initiatives it is good not because some executive had the vision to make it that way but because a scappy team “in the trenches” just did it. You know as well as anyone that SDN also had to fight a lot of battles in order to overcome the reflexive nature that SAP has to be closed and proprietary. Heck, you are a perfect example of what I am talking about… there was no organized initiative to support scripting in Netweaver until you just just decided to pull it all together and make a toolkit that developers could use. If SAP had a thousand people like you think about how much innovation could be unleashed… but only if everyone else got out of your way.

  5. Hi Jeff,

    Actually quite a few more things have happened since you left, most of SDN is standard code now and is either available or will be available soon, Jive Software (forums) is also certified now on NW. True we are up in the air a bit with the Wiki part still trying to figure out the “right” way to move things but I think we’ll get there as well.

    The best part is that SDN is rightly trying to standardize and we push hard on the EP and KM groups to make things work so we can basically package it up and offer it to the customers as well – it’ll take some time, not sure when we’ll see it but we are certainly heading that way (not even sure I’ll see it happen but I’m optimistic!)


  6. Yeah Thomas, I know because while at SAP Ventures I invested in a wiki company – Socialtext – and later worked with SDN to get them in as the platform for SDN’s wiki, but they ended up going with Atlassian (a very good product and while I didn’t like the fact that they picked the competitor to the company we were an investor in, SAP developers win). More to the point of SDN, it’s a big piece of custom code… you can’t package SDN up and give it to your customers even though they keep asking for it.

    SAP is a software company, not only do you have a higher obligation to use these new applications and ideas internally but also to make them available to your customers so that the investment return in SAP accelerates. As it stands now, the overwhelming majority of customers on ERP2005 and BPP are new customers, the existing customers (including SAP itself) are on older versions because the cost and complexity of upgrading is significant. Speaking of upgrade statistics, have you seen any lately? SAP mgmt has locked down those stats so tight that nobody outside of the most senior mgmt has them… what does that tell you?

    But let’s not confuse tools that developers are using with tools that business application users can take advantage of. You said it yourself, the developers wiki is rich but the sales/marketing wiki is not. What does that tell you? For me this says that IT is not putting the resources where people can use them. How about scrapping that shitty portal for starters? Nobody uses it anyway, except Henning with his one-off custom version.

    Insofar as Shai, he talks the talk but where are the results? Has Duet moved off Henning’s critical list yet? As one of your very large marquee customers told me recently, they put a hold on Duet because 1) they believe they already licensed much of the software the Duet is trying to sell them again, and 2) the CATS scenario didn’t work and Henning had it on critical because of their issues.

    Thomas, I respect you greatly and admire your defense of your employer, but I think you would do well to be objective about this. I still love SAP and have great loyalty to the company, but I also know that being reflexively pro-SAP isn’t going to do the company any good. There are major issues with SAP’s approach to the market and A1S isn’t going to automatically solve everything, much to the disappointment of Zencke and Shai. SAP has had flat growth for 3 years while watching one competitor buy up share and new competitors emerge that are fundamentally different in their approach. The fortress of IT is under assault and you guys are manning the walls with them, I’m not so sure that’s a position I would want to be in because defenders in a fortified position have a hard time doing anything but defending.

  7. What Thomas doesn’t tell you is that developer wiki has a predecessor, the BASIS wiki, and the guys that ran it talked about it in hushed tones else someone from SAP IT might find out about it and shut it down because it 1) violated some obscure rule, and 2) it was on open source software (mediawiki).

    The IT group in Palo Alto actually had a wiki for support but they got shut down by corporate IT in Germany who has, to date, not gotten wiki religion.

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