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Accenture Announces Its Innovation Index Finalists

Winners to be revealed at the Accenture Innovation Conference on 12 October. The Accenture Innovation Index measures, recognises and rewards innovation and enables businesses to plot exactly where they are on the innovation spectrum.

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Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and an expert panel led by Accenture Innovation Index partners – including The Da Vinci Institute, TransUnion and other innovation practitioners – have selected the finalists of this year’s Accenture Innovation Index.

The winners, to be selected from among 20 finalists across five categories, will be announced at the Accenture Innovation Conference on 12 October in Johannesburg.

Launched in 2014 as part of Accenture’s commitment to spearheading innovation, the Accenture Innovation Index measures, recognises and rewards innovation and systems of innovation. It provides businesses, regardless of their size or industry, with a personalised innovation diagnostic report that identifies innovation gaps and strengths. The Index process starts with businesses’ participation in an online survey and culminates in an innovation showcase and awards ceremony.

Related: Demanding Customers Are The Ones Who Motivate Innovation

Participating businesses are scored across three measures of innovation maturity:

  • Ability: The ability to innovate through the value chain, from ideation to commercialisation, is imperative.
  • Commitment: For innovation to reach across the value chain, significant buy-in is required from all tiers of management, right up to senior leadership.
  • Digital Capability: A company’s digital capability can be defined by the evolution of the business to use combinations of technology, information and connectivity to create new sources of customer value, company revenue and operational performance.

“Innovation is vital to compete in a disrupted world, and I’m pleased that we were able to provide respondents with the opportunity to not only benchmark their innovative capabilities, but also to refine their innovation strategies,” said Ntombi Mhangwani, a director of Integrated Marketing & Communications at Accenture.

“It has been an interesting 12-month journey to see participating businesses push boundaries and identify and fill gaps. Judges uncovered great stories of innovation and interesting trends, which we look forward to sharing with our clients and South Africans so that they can make informed decisions.”

Bennie Anderson, chief executive officer at The Da Vinci Institute, said, “There is no doubt that not only South Africa but the rest of the African continent is on the global level in terms of innovation. It was interesting to see, through the adjudication process, how companies – both small and well-established – use innovation to revolutionise the markets they serve. The process also highlighted the need for South Africa to create an environment in which individuals and organisations alike can engage and create innovative solutions that address business needs.”

With all entries grouped under one of five categories, this year’s Accenture Innovation Index finalists, along with their innovative projects, are:

Overall Innovation Masters (turnover in excess of R35 million)

  • ABSA – whose integration of its App with the Apple Watch, enables customers to stay on top of their finances via their Apple Watch.
  • FNB – whose internal IT coding marathon brings programmers together over a six-day sprint in order to build disruptive, financial technology apps that solve business problems while achieving competitive advantage through new or improved products and services.
  • King Price Insurance – whose car insurance premiums decrease monthly in line with the depreciation of a car’s value.
  • Purple Group’s The Bundles, a platform allows individuals to invest in a basket of shares. It provides access to a predetermined stock selection created by respected fund managers and CIOs from some of South Africa’s top financial services providers.
  • SSG Consulting’s KEY360, a revolutionary cloud-based business and project management solution with exceptional capabilities to handle workflow, data, documents, dashboards, KPIs, business and staff optimisation together with upskilling.

Overall Innovation Masters (turnover less than R35 million)

  • Bramhope – whose partnership programme builds and maintains long-term relationships between like-minded innovative companies in the health, safety and hygiene industries.
  • Colony HQ’s online aggregation and database platform that translates Big data into little data, enabling clients to communicate with their customers using relevant messaging at the right time/s.
  • Rethink Education’s Bite-sized mathematics and science education delivered via mobile phones for students in grades 8 to 12.

Top Innovative Concepts (turnover in excess of R35 million)

  • Assupol’s instant Groceries, a mobile application that puts spending power in the hands of beneficiaries wherever they are, instantly via a mobile phone.
  • Purple Group: Easy Equities, a platform that allows individuals to invest in a basket of shares. It provides access to a predetermined stock selection created by respected fund managers and CIOs from some of South Africa’s top financial services providers.
  • USN – whose Blue Label Testing Lab (an interactive programme) allows consumers to customise the USN product to suit their specific needs.
  • Spark ATM Systems, a fully developed supporting suite of monitoring and management software.
  • Isometrix’s hyper-agile, multi-language, enterprise-ready solution for governance risk and compliance.

Related: Howard Blake Stays Hungry With His Innovation Strategy

Top Innovative Concepts (emerging organisations)

  • DQS, aboard game consisting of four superheroes and one villain, whose objective is to encourage children to learn and interact around best practices.
  • Fuel Decontaminant, explosion-proof for petrol, diesel, jet fuel, bio fuel and paraffin.
  • Kirkonsult – whose Carbotect organic detection tool verifies whether reductions in time, energy, water and chemical inputs could be sustained during standard industrial cleaning procedures.
  • Quoros Biotech’s Microbial Cell Culture Bioreactors, a solution that develops ways of manufacturing natural products.
  • Seeing Machines – uses advanced detection-and-prevention safety assistance technologies to track eye and facial movement in order to monitor fatigue, drowsiness and distraction events such as micro sleeps, texting and cell phone use as they occur. This provides for a real-time intervention strategy, improving operator, driver and environmental safety, preserving assets and reducing risk.
  • Standard Microgrid, a mini-utility utilising a combination of solar PV, energy storage, cloud based grid management and granular demand side management devices to transform a rural off-grid village into a hyper efficient group of networked smart homes.
  • Vuselela Energy’s Vuselela Energy’s Thermal Harvesting power plant, Eternity Power, a global, first-of-its-kind clean energy power plant based at the Anglo American Platinum Waterval Smelting Complex near Rustenburg, North West Province.  The Thermal Harvesting plant captures waste heat from the converter cooling circuit at the smelter to generate up to 4.3MW of clean electricity, then used by the smelter for its internal power consumption.

“We have been overwhelmed by both the quality and number of entries, seeing a strong focus on the use of innovation for the improvement of others from social through to business and education,” Mhangwani said.

“South Africa is well-known for its highly innovative culture, with the likes of Siya Xusa, Elon Musk and Mark Shuttleworth, among others, leading the way. We have every confidence that this year’s finalists, and ultimate winners, will continue spearheading South African innovation, enabling our country to not only create jobs and grow the economy, but continue to play a leading role in our highly innovative and constantly evolving world.” 

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Entrepreneur Today

3 Stealthy Tax Hikes Payroll Managers And Employees Need To Take Note Of

By Rob Cooper, tax expert at Sage, and chairman of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa

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“Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.” 

The adage summarises the difficult decisions government and the Finance Minister faced when balancing the country’s books, rescuing state-owned enterprises, and reviving the growth of our economy. Given the economic pressure that most taxpayers are facing, government ideally needed to achieve all of that without direct increases to personal income tax in the most recent Budget Speech.

Personal income tax has comprised at least a third of South Africa’s total tax revenue in recent tax years, despite growing unemployment. The 2019 Budget, presented in February, forecasts that personal income tax will account for nearly 39% of tax collected during the upcoming (2019/20) tax year. Given that we are in an election year and that the tax base is fragile, it’s not surprising that the Finance Minister and the National Treasury avoided direct increases to the statutory tax tables used to calculate PAYE for employees in the budget.

Nonetheless, government has made inflation work in its favour to impose some tax increases by stealth. Here are three ways government is raising more revenue without direct tax increases:

1. Bracket creep

The statutory tax tables used by payrolls and employers have not been changed for 2019/20, nor have the brackets been adjusted for inflation. This effectively amounts to an indirect tax increase that will yield a revenue saving of approximately R12.8 billion for government’s coffers.

It is not unusual for government to use ‘bracket creep’ to effectively raise more revenue. But unlike previous tax years, even low- and middle-income earners are not getting much relief. Rebates and the tax threshold are being increased by small amounts to allow some relief, but many people this year will feel the pain as inflationary salary increases push them into a higher tax bracket.

2. Medical aid credit not adjusted for inflation 

As proposed in the 2018 Budget, the Finance Minister did not apply an inflationary increase to the Medical Tax Credit, which allowed him to raise an extra R1 billion in revenue for the year. Surprisingly, these funds will be allocated to general tax revenue rather than ring-fenced for healthcare. In previous tax years, revenue generated from below-inflation increases on medical scheme credits was used to fund National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot projects.

There is still no clarity on how the NHI is going to be funded except for a general statement that the funding model is a problem for the National Treasury to solve, and that the principles of cross-subsidisation will apply. One wonders if any real progress will be made soon, given the fiscal constraints government faces.

3. Business travel deduction left untouched

The Budget leaves the per-kilometre cost rates used to determine tax deductions for business travel untouched. By not increasing travel rates to account for inflation, government effectively increases income tax collection at the cost of the taxpayer. This will be a blow for people who need to claim from their employers for business travel in their personal vehicles. This change has slipped through largely unnoticed and the budget does not provide numbers for the expected increase in tax revenue.

Closing words

Amid political turmoil and uncertainty, the Finance Minister presented a balanced budget for 2019/20 that offers hope for the future along with some tough love. With government taking steps to accelerate economic growth and improve revenue collection, we should hopefully see a steady improvement in government finances, which will translate into less pressure on the taxpayer in future years.

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Entrepreneur Today

SMEs: Staying On The Right Side Of The Taxman

Remaining SARS compliant can be a constant challenge for small- to medium-enterprises (SMEs), especially when they are trying to focus on growing their businesses and streamlining their operations.

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EasyBiz Managing Director, Gary Epstein, says submitting taxes can be a seamless process that does not have to take up more time than is necessary. “If business owners understand what is required of them and they put a few processes into place to deal with their tax submissions properly, their lives will be so much easier.”

What are the top three considerations for SMEs when submitting tax returns?

“Firstly,” says Epstein, “SARS returns must be accurate and submitted in terms of the relevant Act. Secondly, returns should be submitted and paid on time to avoid unnecessary penalties and interest, and thirdly, business owners must follow up on queries issued by SARS. “Do not ignore these queries, act on them as soon as possible”.

What are the major SARS submission deadlines for SMEs?

Epstein points out that small business owners need to adhere to various tax deadlines, each with their own particular dates for submission. “It is important that business owners diarise the dates (and set advance reminders for themselves) and/or enlist the services of an accountant or financial adviser to help them keep abreast of requirements.”

Value-added tax (VAT)

VAT payments need to be submitted in the VAT period allocated to the business, according to various categories and ending on the last day of a calendar month. This may mean making payments once a month, once every two months, once every six months or annually, depending on the category.

Provisional taxes

Provisional tax should be submitted at the end of August (first provisional) and at the end of February (second provisional) – for February year-end companies.

Employee taxes

In addition to submitting an annual reconciliation (EMP501) for the period 1 March to end of February for Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Skills Development Levy (SDL) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), employee tax, in the form of an EMP201 return, needs to be submitted by the seventh of every month.

When can SMEs get extensions and is it worth it?

Epstein says SMEs can apply for various extensions, but these are subject to the Income Tax Act and Tax Administration Act.

“It is best for SMEs to consult their tax professionals to get advice regarding extensions for their businesses.”

What is SARS not flexible about?

SARS is not flexible when it comes to late returns and late payments.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for SME owners to ensure their tax returns are submitted on time. In this way, they will avoid the inconvenience and expense of additional fines and interest,” notes Epstein.

What skills do SMEs need in their organisations to be able to submit to SARS efficiently?

Business owners often don’t have the time or expertise to deal with tax submissions throughout the year. If the business cannot afford to employ a full-time accountant or financial services expert, it would do well to outsource its tax requirements to a registered tax practitioner.

“I would recommend that even if they are not submitting the tax returns themselves, business owners should have a broad understanding of the tax regulations and what is expected of them. There is a lot of helpful information on the various Acts and tax requirements on SARS’ website,” says Epstein.

How does the right software help SMEs remain SARS compliant?

SME’s (and their accountants’) jobs can be made easier by using reliable accounting software to calculate accurate VAT reports. These reports are only as accurate as the data entered into them, which means care needs to be taken when inputting data into the accounting programme. Epstein says a good accounting software package must be reliable, easy to use and functional.

“SMEs need to check that the software has thorough reporting capabilities and can interface with other software solutions. Of course, it is also important to find out whether the software is locally supported by the vendor or not.”

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Entrepreneur Today

4 Dangers Of Business Under-insurance

A common short-term insurance peril that many SMEs face when submitting a claim following an insured event is the risk of being underinsured.

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Malesela Maupa, Head of Products and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, many small business owners mistakenly believe that by merely having a short-term insurance policy in place they are adequately protected against unforeseen events.

“This is technically correct provided that the business is covered for the full replacement value of the items insured. However, in circumstances where the sum insured does not cover the full replacement value or material loss of the item insured, the business is underinsured,” explains Maupa, as he unpacks the dangers of business underinsurance:

1. Financial loss

The most common risk is financial loss on the part of the business. If the business is underinsured or the indemnity period understated, the short-term insurance policy will only pay out the sum insured for the stated indemnity period as stated in the schedule, with the business owner having to provide for the shortfall. This often leads to cash flow challenges, impacting profit margins or rendering it difficult for the business to recover following the financial loss.

2. Reputational damage

Should an underinsured business not have sufficient funds to replace a key business activity or critical component following a loss, this may impact its ability to fulfil its contractual obligations, leading to a loss of business or market share, and irreparable reputational damage in the worst-case scenario.

3. Legal action

A small business also faces the risk of customers or clients taking legal action against it, should it fail to deliver on goods and services following a loss or be unable to honour its financial commitments that they committed to prior to the loss.

4. Survival of the business

A catastrophic event such as fire, which could result in the loss of stock or company equipment and documentation, could threaten the survival of a small business that is not yet fully established, if the business assets are not adequately insured.

Working with an experienced short-term insurance broker or insurer is essential when taking up short-term insurance to ensure that business contents are covered for their full replacement value.

Furthermore, depending on the nature of the business or item insured, the policy should be reviewed on a regular basis to avoid underinsurance as the value of items often change overtime due to fluctuations in economic activity. Where it’s necessary, evaluation certificates need to be kept up to date.

“Lastly, SMEs should ensure that the sum insured does not exceed the replacement value, which would lead to over insurance. Should a business submit a claim following a loss, the insurer would only pay out the replacement value, regardless of the higher sum insured,” concludes Maupa.

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