Following weeks of adjudication, Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and The Da Vinci Institute announced winners of this year’s Innovation Index at the Accenture Innovation Conference held in Johannesburg today. The awards ceremony honoured businesses – regardless of their sizes – for spearheading innovation in their own industries.
“All respondents were evaluated according to areas of innovation maturity,” said Ntombi Mhangwani, the director of Integrated Marketing & Communications at Accenture.
This ranged from ability to innovate throughout the value chain, from concept through to commercialisation; commitment to the project across the organisation, including senior management; and ability to make use of ever evolving technology, in all its forms, as a way of improving customer value, operational procedures as well as creating new revenue streams.
The 2016 Accenture Innovation Index winners are:
Overall Innovation Master (turnover in excess of R35m): SSG Consulting
For their revolutionary cloud based Business and Project Management solution with exceptional capabilities to handle workflow, data, documents, dashboards, KPI’s, business and staff optimisation together with upskilling. SSG Consulting’s KEY360 solution is able to cater for over 100 processes via either mobile or multi-company access.
Overall Innovation Master (turnover less than R35m): Colony HQ
For their online aggregation and database platform that translates big data into little data, allowing clients to communicate with their customers making use of relevant messaging at the right time.
Top Innovative Concept (turnover in excess of R35 million): Purple Group – Easy Equities
For their Bundles that allows the investors to invest in a basket of shares. It provides access to a predetermined stock selection created by respected fund managers and CIO’s from some of South Africa’s top financial service providers.
Top Innovative Concept (emerging organisation): Standard Microgrid
For their mini-utility solution that utilises a combination of solar photovoltaic, 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.
The overall findings of the Accenture Innovation Index showed only marginal growth in innovation among South African companies, with 57 percent of respondents found to be laggards, 29 percent acting as leaders in innovation and 8 percent serving as innovation value champions seeing a return on innovation of over 40 percent.
“If South Africa hopes to continue in the 21st Century, the pace at which the nation is innovating needs to accelerate going forward,” said Mhangwani.
This year, three key themes – Engagement, Resources and Digital – have gained momentum and emerged as receiving stronger focus by innovation leaders and value champions in South Africa.
Engagement, defined as the workforce of a company who are invested in their daily work, grew by seven percent in 2016. About 70 percent of employees view innovation as a critical part of their job. The index also shows that 78 percent of companies encourage innovative thinking from employees.
Resources – defined as financial and human capital, as well as marking use of sources, relationships and the workforce to generate ideas and facilitate innovation – dimension significantly increased by 20 points to 55 percent in 2016. The index shows that 71 percent of leaders allow for innovative ideas to come from outside their organisations.
Digital – defined by the evolution of the business to use new combinations of technology, information and connectivity to create new sources of customer value, revenue as well as operational performance – remains a key driver of innovation with 85 percent of innovation leaders using analytics to drive innovation.
As part of the adjudication process, index partners – including The Da Vinci Institute, TransUnion and other innovation practitioners – met with and interviewed the top organisations to ultimately determine the finalists and winners. The top four winners were selected from a total of 20 finalists announced last month.
All winners will receive a customised innovation diagnostic that identifies innovation gaps and strengths, provides a benchmark by turnover and sector, and includes strategies that may help them to improve their businesses and gain competitive advantage.
The Accenture Innovation Index, launched two years ago, has as its goal to drive and grow innovation, in all its forms. It provides organisations with a customised innovative diagnostic report, allowing respondents to identify both its innovation strengths and gaps, together with potential strategies moving forward.
In addition to what it affords respondents, and largely because of it, The Accenture Innovation Index is also able to provide an invaluable objective benchmark of the state of innovation in South Africa.
“At Accenture, we remain committed to spearheading innovation,” continued Mhangwani.
“We believe that the annual Innovation Index enables this, allowing us to deliver a positive contribution not only to the various organisations involved but, similarly, to the broader subject of innovation in our country. Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to all participants over the last few months, and today’s winners.”
Registration for the Accenture Innovation Index 2017 is now open. For more information, please visit: www.theinnovationindex.com.
South African Students Win R50 000 In The Universities Business Challenge
Students from Mangosuthu University of Technology beat 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa.
The Overlings from Mangosuthu University of Technology are the 2018 winners of Cognity Advisory’s Universities Business Challenge (UBC), sponsored by General Electric (GE). The winning team of four students are walking away with R50,000 to turn their business idea into reality.
Launched in July this year, the UBC has seen 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa participate in a business simulation competition designed to develop entrepreneurship skills.
When the competition launched, all teams were challenged to form virtual companies and to virtually manufacture and sell bicycles.
The final 10 teams were from the University of Limpopo, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal and North-West University.
During the two-day final, the teams played six rounds of simulations. Each simulation gave the teams a chance to re-evaluate their progress and better certain areas that needed improving. The winning team realised during one of their simulations that in order to maximise profits they would need to introduce two new products and market it differently from their initial product. They paid special attention to their customer’s needs.
The aim of the UBC was designed to tackle South Africa’s high level of youth unemployment. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) that South Africa’s official unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018.
Nkosinathi Sokhulu from the winning team said, “Even though we didn’t have a great presentation we made the most profit. This experience taught us a lot about ourselves and business. Most of the decisions that we made came from serious debates. We learnt that market research is crucial when starting a business. We learnt that marketing starts and ends with the customer.”
“Based on this market research information we realised that it was important for us to introduce two new products and this, in addition to the main product we were selling, helped us to maximise profits. We saw an opportunity to add more products and it paid off” said Mbali Tshozi.
Tope Toogun, development advisor and CEO of Cognity Advisory said, “All the teams showed tremendous promise and I was very impressed by their levels of engagement with one another and their tenacity.”
“We really want to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary skills to not only start a business but to run it effectively. While we have selected one winner, our hope is that each team has benefitted by having learned the skills needed in the workplace.”
“The competition is designed to develop the ‘soft skills’ that are important for those wanting to set up their own business or simply be successful at work. With rising unemployment and ongoing talent shortages, having these skills is crucial for those wanting to get a job.”
The UBC, now in its second year in South Africa, will continue into its third year in 2019 and will run as the Africa Enterprise Challenge (AEC).
Use The December Shutdown Period To Do Just That: Shut Down
by Greg Morris, CEO, Sebata Holdings
Most businesses – retail and entertainment excluded – resemble ghost towns during the first and last weeks of the year. Energy levels are low in December, and employees daydream about cocktails on the beach. Come January, it takes a few days to get back into the swing of things. Before we know it, South Africa takes another extended holiday in April.
We’re accused of having a “holiday culture” in South Africa. That’s a fair comment. We get 12 public holidays a year, which is more than most countries. And many people use their annual leave strategically in April and December to maximise their time off. As a result, we only really work for 10 months of the year, while other countries work for 11 months.
There’s no doubt that public holidays affect the economy. One extra public holiday in 2011 resulted in an estimated R7 billion loss in turnover. But there’s also a lot to be said for taking time off. And when we know the holidays are coming, we can prepare for them, so employees make the most of their downtime and start the new year on a strong footing.
Burnout is not good for business…
Productivity and motivation are like fuel tanks. While driving, the fuel dries up. At some point, we need to fill up, otherwise we’ll break down. People are the same; we can’t run on empty. Weekends are one thing, but in our culture of always-connected busyness, we don’t get a chance to recharge over weekends. That’s why we need the longer break in December.
A Pulse Institute study found that, when employees are not rested, they experience:
- 23% reduced concentration
- 18% reduced memory function
- 9% increased difficulty in performing tasks
Fatigue-related productivity losses amount to R26,000 per employee per year. Sleeplessness can also result in mistakes and increased absenteeism, accidents, or injury.
Well-rested employees, however, are happier and more creative, engaged, and productive. They get more done in less time than their sleep-deprived, low-energy colleagues.
… but if you’re going to burn the midnight oil…
Businesses often think of December as a slow period that will harm the bottom line. Yes, it can be disruptive and there will be financial impacts. But if you’re going to keep the doors open til the end, this is the perfect time for internal housekeeping. Even the most efficient and streamlined businesses can improve some internal projects or processes.
Allow teams to be inwardly focused during this time, so that you start the new year with less to worry about. Whether that’s planning for 2019, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in 2018, cleaning up databases, servicing air cons and office machines, connecting with customers over coffee, updating your website, or creating new marketing campaigns, employees can achieve a lot when they’re not focused on the day-to-day grind.
Our best ideas come to us when we’re relaxed and not thinking about them. (If you’ve ever scrawled on the steamed-up shower door, you’ve experienced downtime creativity.)
Make the most of skeleton staff time in December. Host fun creativity sessions that have nothing to do with work. Pay for your people to complete short online courses that will give them skills and motivation boosts. When they do go on holiday, perhaps their new knowledge will result in a major ‘a-ha moment’ around the family braai.
My best advice for businesses that are shutting down in a few weeks is this: shut down. Since the business is not generating income, everything that’s left running – that one employee watching the phone that never rings; that one light left on – hurts the bottom line.
Encourage teams to disconnect. Don’t expect them to answer mails and don’t contact them about work while they’re on holiday – unless it’s an emergency. Block access to mails if you have to, Volkswagen style. Give your people time to think, reflect, and sleep.
When we respect employees’ time and give them freedom to work when they’re most productive, we develop motivated, positive workforces who are enthusiastic about achieving the business’s goals. They work harder to get the job done and, in our experience, actually finish projects ahead of deadline because they want to be able to switch off and go fishing.
Downtime is often seen as wasted time. We don’t take breaks, we eat lunch at our desks, and we work when we’re sick and should be at home. But working longer hours doesn’t mean that we’ll get more done. In fact, it can be enormously counter-productive.
Neuroscientist David Levitin cautions against the “false break”, when we feel guilty for taking time off and compulsively check emails. Napping, daydreaming, and “taking true vacations without work”, he says, is biologically restorative and essential for rebooting cognitive energy. So, if you’re going to shut down, do it properly. The same business challenges will be there when you get back. But you could solve some of them while you’re sleeping.
Seasonal SMEs: Don’t Spend Your Extra Cash All At Once
Save a portion of festive season profits for an emergency fund.
The festive season is a time when many seasonal small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reap the rewards of increased consumer spending, such as additional sales and accommodation bookings from the influx of holiday makers and festive season shoppers. This spike in earnings offers the ideal opportunity for these businesses to save some of the extra money that they make for an emergency fund.
This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that a major risk faced by many businesses is their vulnerability to an unexpected financially-draining mishap such as a big client loss, a lawsuit, or any accident that is not covered by insurance.
“Despite this, few SME owners have an emergency fund in place to deal with such unforeseen events,” he says.
“This is understandable since a growing business tends to require a lot of cash to move forward. Another likely reason for this is because most SME owners are more focused on the immediate practicalities of building their business, rather than on vague risk assessments and planning. By nature, entrepreneurs also tend to be chronically optimistic about the future good luck of their business,” adds Lang.
“However, considering South Africa’s underperforming economy and rising consumer price inflation, it is essential that all SME owners save for a rainy day. Those that have boosted seasonal business have an advantage and should capitalise on this by putting aside a portion of their seasonal profits,” he explains.
Related: 5 Small Business Money-Saving Myths
When saving towards an emergency fund, it is key to set a goal, Lang points out. “A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months’ worth of overheads set aside, but even just one month’s expenses are better than nothing.”
The next step is to decide what constitutes an emergency, he says. “If an emergency fund can be dipped into every time you want to avoid an awkward phone call to the landlord to say that the rent will be slightly late this month, it won’t last long. A true emergency is one that threatens the survival of the business.”
With this in mind, thinking through and writing down a list of possible emergencies that would justify the use of the fund is a good risk-assessment exercise for any business, suggests Lang.
Finally, some thought needs to be given to where an emergency fund should be kept, he says.
“Gambling with the money on the stock exchange defeats the purpose. A money-market account is a better option, but it may be worth considering an account where the funds aren’t too easily accessible, so there’s no temptation to dip into it on a whim. On the other hand, it should not be so inaccessible that you cannot access it fairly soon when an emergency does strike.”
As such, Lang recommends a set of notice deposit accounts with varying notice periods so that a limited amount can be accessed immediately, and some a little later, which allows for some interest to accrue while the money, hopefully, will not be used any time soon.
“However, ultimately the will on the part of the business owner to attain these savings is critically important. The cash demands in a business are so constant that any vague or half-hearted attempt to establish an emergency fund will fail. It will have to be a conscious and disciplined effort by the business owner,” Lang concludes.
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