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The Changing Face Of Business Communications

Is your business able to communicate in a world that is instant?

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Call them ‘Gen Y’ or Millennials, the new generation of workers think differently about communications, and businesses need to respond accordingly. In fact, business owners need to ask themselves whether their business operates in a world where communication is instant, and if the answer is no, they need to seriously look at how they can make it instant.

As much as social media makes people more social on the surface, human beings are becoming less social. The younger generation, as both employees and customers, is changing the way businesses communicate internally and to their target audiences.

Mobility and flexibility go hand-in-hand

The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 found that 64 percent of millennials polled are able to work from locations other than their employer’s primary site, compared to 43 percent in 2016. It is a strong indication of how rapidly technology is facilitating mobile working and how employers are becoming increasingly comfortable with flexible, work-from-anywhere arrangements.

Related: 7 Tips For Purposeful Communication To Better Lead Your Teams

Millennials consider their cellphones the centre of their world, which means that tools and applications, both from a personal and professional perspective, need to sit on a central device. If they don’t, employees will figure out a way around a company’s systems to meet their communication and productivity needs.

Businesses need to accept the millennial employee’s philosophy of being mobile. Such a mindset change is difficult and even if a business is geared towards mobility, it is potentially not trusting its workforce to work remotely. The survey found that levels of trust increase as flexible working becomes more embedded in an organisation. 

Bring-your-own-applications is happening and as such, employees, by the very nature of what they are using, will have scattered communications. Scattered communications, ineffective meetings and fragmented workflows are causing productivity to drop as staff switch between multiple applications, tasks and devices.

It is becoming increasingly important to bring these different applications back into a central place. Being able to have every single application that a business would ordinarily have outside its corporate network, now being pushed into one central application through unified communications (UC) is crucial for effective collaboration. In addition, being able to offer these applications within the corporate network will enable a company to attract and retain millennial talent. 

Text rather than talk

Millennials favour texting to phone calls, both as an employee and as a customer. With UC, presence status enables staff to know exactly what someone’s current online status is and having instant messaging (IM) means staff don’t have to escalate to a voice call as quickly as they would have in the past, which is ideal for Generation Y employees.

It is not only internally that companies have to review their communication and collaboration tools.

Businesses are having much less face-to-face communication with customers as most communication is now being conducted online. 

Related: Speed Up Production Using Communication Structures

Business owners can make a small change, such as adding an instant chat functionality to their website, to put customers, especially millennial customers in touch with a consultant without them having to make a phone call.  

A value proposition

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Businesses are often hesitant to embrace new technology due to the potential disruption it can cause through the need for training and buy-in from staff.

To overcome this enterprises are encouraged to isolate a section of their business and trial a proof of concept to experience the value and possibilities unified communications can bring to that specific department or business unit. Once the value is derived the obstacles in deploying new technology often fade into insignificance in comparison to the value attainable from the new technology. 

The reality is that communication is changing and the momentum of change is only going to increase. Business owners need to recognise these changes as an opportunity to reinvent their business with a focus on their employees as well as their customers. 

Companies today can’t operate in a world that isn’t instant. If they are not instant they will be slow to respond to customers and slow to work effectively internally. 

Related: Farah Fortune Of African Star Communications On Choosing The Right Clients

The goal of any business is for customers to be able to access it and through unified communications, customers, no matter which generation they’re from, can access a business in the way they want to.

Kyle Woolf is the CEO of Saicom Voice Services. His primary responsibility is to drive future growth for the Saicom Voice Services business and to position the company as a market leader in the Voice and ISP sectors within the sub-Saharan Africa telecommunications markets. Kyle studied a Bachelor of Accountancy at Wits University and went on to Investec where he spent almost six years with post articles experience in structured finance, providing debt and equity solutions to corporates around South Africa.

Entrepreneur Today

Global Guide For Entrepreneurs, Innovators Launches In Johannesburg

Startup Guide partners with SAP Next-Gen, Tshimologong Precinct to bring global guidebook to Johannesburg innovation ecosystem; calls for nominations.

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Calling all entrepreneurs, accelerators, innovators, co-working spaces and experts in the City of Gold: Startup Guide, the leading global guide for start-ups in high-growth innovation hubs in Europe, the US and Middle East, is open to nominations in Johannesburg.

Founded in 2014, Startup Guide is a creative content and publishing company that produces guidebooks and tools to help entrepreneurs to connect to communities and resources in the leading start-up cities around the world. Its global footprint covers some of the most innovative and thriving start-up ecosystems in the US, Europe and the Middle East, including those of London, New York, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Stockholm. After launching in Cape Town earlier in the year, Startup Guide now moves to Johannesburg.

According to Sissel Hansen, Founder and CEO of Startup Guide, South Africa’s largest city is emerging as a key innovation hub for start-ups.

“Johannesburg has recently emerged as a growing ecosystem for start-ups and entrepreneurs in Africa, particularly in the tech industry. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to create a comprehensive guide of resources for aspiring founders wanting to do business in South Africa’s largest city.”

Startup Guide Johannesburg was launched at Wits University’s Tshimologong Precinct, one of Johannesburg’s newest high-tech addresses in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein. Tshimologong, which means “new beginnings” in Setswana, focuses on the incubation of digital entrepreneurs, commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youth. Lesley Williams, CEO of Tshimologong Precinct, says: “South Africa is fast-becoming a go-to source for innovation, especially in the tech sector. We believe the introduction of a dedicated resource for the startup ecosystem in Johannesburg will unlock significant opportunities for innovation hubs such as ours to more easily connect with entrepreneurs, experts and other roleplayers, ultimately providing a more supportive environment for growth.”

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

Startup Guide has partnered with SAP Next-Gen, a purpose driven innovation university and community for the SAP ecosystem enabling companies, partners and universities to connect and innovate with purpose linked to the UN Sustainable Goals for Development. Ann Rosenberg, Senior Vice President and Head of Global SAP Next-Gen says:

“We strive to connect digital innovators in an open innovation community to drive the future success and growth of industries through the use of technology. As we have witnessed in other high-innovation cities around the world, the introduction of knowledge resources – supported by opportunities for collaboration and partnership in an open ecosystem – enhances the overall success of entire start-up communities. Johannesburg’s world-famous energy and business acumen will greatly benefit from the launch of Startup Guide Johannesburg and the support of industry partners, including SAP Next-Gen and the Tshimologong Precinct.”

Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa, adds that the partnership with Startup Guide aligns well with the company’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “As an organisation we are committed to achieving the high ambitions set out by the SDGs. However, it is virtually impossible to do so alone: the concept of partnership with likeminded purpose-driven organisations and initiatives is vital not only to realising the SDGs but to foster a greater and more inclusive innovation ecosystem in Johannesburg and across the African continent.”

Nominations for the Johannesburg edition of Startup Guide are now open. If you know a start-up, entrepreneur, programme, space, accelerator, or experts and would like to see them featured in the book, please visit https://startupguide.com/shop/startup-guide-johannesburg and submit your nomination.

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

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Entrepreneur Today

Aspirations For SMMEs In South Africa

Research released earlier this year, revealed that there are only 250 000 formal SMMEs in South Africa.

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Entrepreneurs who have started up a business over the past 10 years have done so in an environment that has been largely negative, with slow economic growth and an unstable political landscape. “So, all in all, a very difficult setting to launch, grow or even maintain a business,” says Bizmod MD, Anne-Marie Pretorius.

Pretorius says that many entrepreneurs who operate in South Africa can be forgiven for often wondering if the slog is worth it. Yet they continue – despite economic uncertainty, strikes, retrenchments and downscaling.  “It is this tenacity that sets entrepreneurs apart, and I often wonder how much more successful they would be in an easier and more supportive environment.”

Below, Pretorius shares her ideal pro-entrepreneur outlook for the future:

  • Greater policy certainty on all key government policies from land reform to regulations surrounding labour broking.
  • Being able to do away with bad policy faster. An example of where this did not happen was in the changes of visa requirements; leading to an unnecessary dent in our tourism industry, an industry that should be targeted for growth.
  • Lower compliance requirements for companies with a turnover under R50 million. The cost of compliance for smaller enterprises is significantly higher in comparison to their income and the cash they have available. Smaller companies need simpler frameworks where compliance is required. A portal similar to SARS e-filing, which makes compliance across various pieces of legislation clear and simple, would be ideal.
  • The Labour Relations Act is a key piece of legislation that has done a lot to protect the rights of the employee. It has attempted to balance the power relationship between employee and employer. Some innovation is however required in labour practices, allowing for mutually beneficial flexible working relationships that keep pace with the changing work environment.
  • Buy small, buy South African! A framework whereby large corporations and government would have to allocate a certain minimum percentage to buying from smaller local companies. There are encouraging signs that this is happening more, however this is still not an ingrained practice. In addition, consumers should be more informed on what items are South African produced, in order for them to be encouraged to purchase locally.
  • Easier access to funds enabling entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. There are currently a few options available, but all of the options require significant governance and red tape. Whilst this is understandable from the lenders perspective, it does hamper the agility and growth of companies.
  • Make good financial governance aspirational, attractive and easily accessible.
  • The process for tenders to be corruption free and fair, enabling more companies to add value.
  • Pay SMME’s on 30 days or less. Enormous pressure exists on smaller companies when not paid on time. They simply do not have the cash flow to carry a debtor’s book of 90 days and this inevitably hampers their growth.
  • Tax SMME’s at a lower tax rate. Profit tax should be lowered in order to drive entrepreneurship.
  • Creating a platform that makes it simpler to employ young individuals with potential and create support programmes for SMMEs to upskill them. There is a significant financial and time investment required to train a young person, which can make SMME’s sometimes wary to do so.

“If we are able to make only some of these ideals a reality, there is no doubt that we would see economic growth, entrepreneurial growth, and more employment opportunities,” concludes Pretorius.

Related: A – Z Easy Small Business Ideas

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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.

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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) announced 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.”

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

“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).

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