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Poor Business Thinking Ignores Social Media

From nice-to-have to a business necessity.

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Is Michael Porter’s thinking redundant? It’s a fair question. In a business world where everything is changing: marketing; project management; HR and customer management; even funding models and opportunities for innovation – business needs a whole new paradigm for success.

“One of the drivers of this change is social media,” says Dave Duarte, the programme director of Social Business Strategy at the UCT Graduate School of Business. “Yes, it has been around for a while, but evidence is that it has gathered momentum in a way that makes it impossible for business to now ignore.”

According toDuarte, Forrester Research shows that spending on social business software is growing at 61% per year, and will do so right into 2016. In that year it is estimated that spending on these products will be over $6 billion.

Investing in social media

But what exactly is it that these companies are investing in? “Well, transformation and opportunity really,” says Duarte. “They’re buying their ticket to becoming what everyone from the Economist to the McKinsey Global Institute is calling a ‘networked enterprise’.

“In some cases the term ‘extended enterprise’ is used to describe organisations that have adopted so successfully these technologies that they have practically blurred the boundaries between the organisation, the customer, and partners and suppliers.”

Many companies are starting to report that this investment is paying dividends. The latest web 2.0 annual survey by the McKinsey Global Institute surveyed more than 4 200 global executives, across an array of industries, and found that there is an increase in the amount of companies investing in these technologies – and that most report that, if deployed strategically, this is benefitting them in some way.

Based on the responses, 86% of high tech and telecommunications companies, 77% of business, legal, and professional services companies, 74% of public administration as well as pharmaceutical companies, 69% of retailing companies and transportation companies, 67% of healthcare and social services companies, 64% of manufacturing companies and financial services companies, and 62% of energy companies, use at least one social media technology such as blogging, microblogging and social networks.

The survey also showed that those companies that fully integrated the technology into all aspects of their business, including into employee work processes, experienced most gain.

Using technology

Out of 1 949 companies using these technologies for internal purposes, 74% of them experienced an increase in the speed to access knowledge, 58% reduced communication costs, and 51% increased the speed of accessing internal expertise.

Among those that used the technologies for customer relations purposes, of which there were 2 227, 69% increased their marketing effectiveness, 475 increased customer satisfaction, and 43% reduced marketing costs.

For external purposes, companies that used the technology for relations with partners, suppliers, and external expertise, of which there were 1 142, 655 increased the speed of access to knowledge, and 61% reduced communication costs.

Overall respondents felt that social media technology offered competitive gain and improved organisational performance. Some saying that if organisational barriers to the adoption of social media technologies – buy-in, trust, uncertainty, and resources, for example – had to drop, they could become a strategic core of how the business operates.

Using social media wisely

But it’s not all a one-way ticket to success. “The research also shows that some organisations experienced a drop in benefits, due mainly to a strategic fault,” says Duarte. “The effort to maintain social media within an organisation is a complex and difficult exercise, especially in integrating them into the workflow of every employee, and if left to slack reaps little benefit or can even cause harm.”

According toDuarte, to reap the full benefits of social media technologies, leaders must realise that it is an essential, strategic element in a business. More than a mildly effective marketing tool or just another tactical element, it is a whole new way of getting things done. And as more companies enter the space competition intensifies.

“Businesses that are not doing it yet need to get in on the act. Start small, so any risk is contained, while educating people across the organisation – who are already using these platforms anyway – to use them more effectively. What is required here is a small-scale adaptive, responsive approach.”

Going the way of the networked or extended organisation is a good bet – there’s enough evidence to support this. If done right, it makes business sense. “Everything from employee performance to matching certain skills with certain projects is enhanced; logistical planning and project management is improved, made easier; connecting to customers and finding new opportunities are made far more possible and are greatly encouraged. One just needs be strategic about it.

“In fact, IBM is calling social media in business a ‘necessity to survive today’s volatile business climate’.

“It used to be called a nice-to-have.”

Dave Duarte is the director of the Social Business Strategy – Adopting Social Media in Business programme at the Graduate School of Business.

Dave Duarte is the programme director of Social Business Strategy which runs at the Graduate School of Business on August 1 and August 2.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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FNB Sets Its Sights On Growing Female Entrepreneurs In South Africa

First National Bank looks to grow women entrepreneurship in South Africa.

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FNB has set its sights on growing women owned and led businesses in South Africa, a commitment that has seen the bank enter into partnerships to facilitate mentorship for some of the most promising enterprises.

The bank has a good foundation to build on, as 38% of all new business accounts opened with FNB Business are either led or owned by women, highlighting an already established entrepreneurial momentum.

“We are cognisant of the fact that neither government nor corporate South Africa are going to be the sole sources of job creation. We therefore have an obligation to support and grow entrepreneurship. Partnerships such as the one entered into with International Finance Corporation (IFC) enables us to assist in developing women owned business,” says Michelle Geraghty, Head of Women in Business at FNB Business.

Over the last few years, FNB has, through a partnership with the Vumela Fund, assisted businesses such asSAIL, a leading skills and training institute that offers a range of qualifications to the public sector, and Toni Glass who produce a collection of world class tea, to not only scale effectively, but to bolster each of the business’s offering to market.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

“Our approach is to, much like we have done with the likes of Sail and Tony Glass, enable qualifying women owned businesses in their growth curve by offering help that includes transact, lending, investing and insuring solutions. This will include facilitating the registration of the business online via the FNB registrations system which links to CIPC, to Instant accounting and payroll solutions aimed at reducing operating costs for the business. This will also extend to support in the incubation stage of selected businesses through Vumela. We will carry this right through to private equity funding,” explains Geraghty.

Vumela was established as an innovative model that is aimed at filling the gaps in the current SME funding and support landscape. While Vumela is an SME growth fund, it also functions as the bank’s primary Enterprise Development and Supply Development vehicle, able to fulfil both SME funding and growth needs, and corporate ESD requirements, avenues that FNB will be making use of.

FNB also intends on tracking jobs created through these initiatives to ensure a trickledown effect that not only benefits the business owner but also increases the overall number of women participating in business in South Africa.

“The need to grow the number of women in business is one that if done correctly, can address many of the disparities and anguish that women continuously face. Access to fair opportunities to grow their businesses and in turn make a real impact on the South African economy,” concludes Geraghty.

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Great Bunch Of Entrepreneurs Make Top 10 In The Workspace/MiWay Competition

The top 10 in The Workspace/MiWay entrepreneur competition have been selected.

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After an intense four-month process, the top 10 contenders in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur competition have been notified that they’re through to the next round. These entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the judges, who will then whittle down the number of contenders to five, from which the winner will be chosen.

“There has been great excitement over the past four months. As every single new entry came in, we would clap our hands and cheer,” said Mari Schourie, CEO of The Workspace. It was a tough job judging all the entries to reach the top 20 submissions, she said, before having to find the top 10.

“We’ve had really strong entries submitted by people with good business knowledge,” said Schourie. “You can see the willingness to work hard and the great amount of effort they have put into their initiatives.”

Schourie said judges saw “wonderful ideas and fabulous business minds and quality people with big dreams shine through the entries”.

The top 10 are:

  1. Loyal 1
  2. Dwyka Mining Services
  3. Minatlou Trading 251
  4. Sindis Best for all
  5. Convergence Three
  6. Zinde Zinde
  7. Matla Risk Management
  8. Artsort Trading
  9. Iconic Talent Agency
  10. Nthedikgwadi Transport Services

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Schourie said she wished she could tell President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports the growth of small business as an economic driver, “the ideas and the passion that these business owners have is inspiring and should be focused on more”.

The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.

Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, said the theme that ran throughout the entries was that entrepreneurs wanted to make a difference and contribute to positive change in South Africa. “Many of the submissions focused on technical and developmental fields,” he said.

“Entrepreneurs recognise gaps in the market and see the potential for growth. Getting into the top 10 was not at all easy.”

Stoltz said South Africa had a “great bunch of entrepreneurs” and that standing together to give them a platform to launch was an exciting opportunity. “To grow our economy we need to help with skills development and give whatever assistance we can,” he said.

Part of the finalists’ road to the top includes a skills development programme for the top 10 entrants ahead of their important date to pitch their business plans to the judges.

As Schourie pointed out, it is vital to encourage South African citizens to act on their dreams and passions because “it can be a great success; they just need make that leap”.

Dates to watch:

  • 21 June: Top 10 skills development programme
  • 3 July: Top 10 pitches
  • 6 July: Top 5 announcement
  • 20 July: Final five workshops
  • 10 August: Final five pitches
  • 13 September: Winner announced

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Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa

After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.

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SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.

“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”

From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.

The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.

“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.

The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:

  • Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
  • South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
  • Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
  • Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
  • Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
  • Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
  • Ireland: Pago Payments

It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.

There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.

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