Africa Tech Festival: We're at AfricaCom!

AfricaCom 2023 isn't just another tech event—it's the beating heart of Africa's tech industry. With over 15,000 tech enthusiasts in attendance, this event serves as a convergence point for industry leaders, visionaries, and innovative companies like ours. It's a vibrant celebration of the boundless potential that technology holds, not just for Africa but for the entire world. AfricaCom has hosted 26 years of discussions on all things telecoms, connectivity, digital infrastructure and sustainable development!

Global Kinetic: Your Innovation Partner

At Global Kinetic, we're not merely attendees at AfricaCom; we're bringing innovation to the forefront. Our belief is that innovation transcends the creation of new products; it's about revolutionizing established processes and gaining profound insights into our customers. We've cultivated an innovation culture that permeates every facet of our work.

AfricaCom 2023 offers you a gateway to the future of technology, and we invite you to be part of this extraordinary journey. Whether you're keen to explore our innovative solutions, connect with like-minded individuals, or stay updated on the latest industry trends, our booth at AfricaCom is the place to be!

Here are details on the event and our booth:

Addressing South Africa's Innovation Challenge

South Africa faces an innovation crisis, a challenge we recently spotlighted in our latest blog releases. Our nation's tech landscape lags behind, but hope gleams on the horizon. Our presence at Africa Tech Festival underscores our dedication to transforming this hope into a tangible reality. 

We are excited to partner with like-minded individuals and organizations to collectively reshape South Africa's tech future. Discover how we lead the way in pioneering transformative solutions that redefine industries. We excel in revolutionizing existing processes and harnessing the full potential of data, all with the ultimate aim of driving tangible change in South Africa's tech landscape.

Innovation isn't a mere buzzword at Global Kinetic; it's ingrained in our core. Our team is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what's possible. We eagerly anticipate engaging in discussions, sharing ideas, and exploring the latest tech trends at Africa Tech Festival. 

Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to meet our thought leaders at our booth, including our CEO Martin Dippenaar, CIO Sergio Barbosa, and COO Loren Rose.

Stay connected with us via Linkedin and Twitter for the latest updates and valuable insights leading up to and during the event. We're eagerly looking forward to connecting, collaborating, and celebrating innovation with you at AfricaCom 2023.

In the spirit of innovation, let's jointly shape the future. We can't wait to meet you.

Sergio Barbosa: Radical rethink needed to keep local companies innovating

SA is falling behind, but solid funding and a shift in approach can reverse the slide

[External Source: BusinessDay]

Once regarded as having one of the most innovative cultures in the world, SA is now falling behind. Local organisations need to radically overhaul their attitudes towards innovation, and if they can’t get it right internally they should outsource it. This will not only guarantee success but can also help operationalise innovation after development.

SA has long been recognised for its innovative culture, finding unique ways to address the country’s many societal and business challenges. However, the latest Global Innovation Index shows that while our innovation outputs have lifted slightly over the past two years, we are still ranked only 61 out of 132 economies, behind Mauritius at 45. What’s more, we are investing less in innovation, with our innovation input ranking slipping from 49 in 2020 to 69 in 2022. 

SA is definitely not as innovative as it once was. We are dealing with the acute effects of some severely inhibiting factors. These include a growing brain drain; a lack of investment in education by the government; and restrictive fiscal policies for companies, which are encouraged to import innovation rather than invest in it locally. We have noticed even our financial services sector is starting to lose its sparkle. Vision 2025 needs a lot more impetus if we are to remain competitive in the global financial services market from an innovation perspective. 

A key place to begin addressing the innovation issue is for the private sector to take the initiative to invest more. There are many methodologies to determine how much to invest and where to apportion the focus. One of the more referenced strategies is the McKinsey 70/20/10 rule, where 70% of the effort is focused at the business’s core operations, 20% on what the consultancy refers to as “adjacent step outs” and the remaining 10% should be apportioned to breakthrough innovation.

Another way is to identify a company’s growth gap — where a business would identify the gap between current and future opportunities and its current capability, investing in initiatives that will close that gap and enable it to address future growth opportunities. 

In general, the larger the effect you want to make on your revenue projections, the more you should spend on innovation. I don’t see large local companies being calculated about their innovation spend at all. It feels more like a tick-box on an executive summary than a thought-through strategic initiative. As a result, companies dive into an innovation initiative without proper discovery and fail to realise the value of true innovation. 

No time to be timid

Once the budget has been settled, companies should empower their innovation entities by removing the usual constraints of the operational departments. A timid approach should be avoided at all costs. 

Too often innovation happens in an area where success won’t deliver a big enough effect. A cautious approach sees businesses innovating in small pockets, solving small problems. They should be targeting important areas that will have the biggest effect on revenue and profitability. What’s more, the innovation should be structured and run outside, and even in competition with the business-as-usual teams. These “skunk works” innovation divisions should have a strong culture of learning and should be restricted only by the budget.

A skunk works project is a project developed by a relatively small and loosely structured group of people who research and develop a project, often with a large degree of autonomy, primarily for the sake of radical innovation. The term originated with Lockheed’s World War 2 Skunk Works project.

Take it outside

Innovation almost never happens inside the constraints of the business-as-usual environment. The most successful innovations have happened through a model where it was contracted out, either as a skunk works effort such as described previously, or even through an acquisition. Another viable and highly successful way to innovate is to contract the innovation project out to a trusted third party.

Innovation partners act as the skunk works team for hire. They come with their own tooling and processes designed specifically for innovative product building. Taking a managed team approach allows the contractors to move from discovery to a market-ready product. If empowered properly, they can then continue the innovation process right through to product maturity and finally business as usual, where the company can once again absorb the successful innovation back into its world. 

Tax incentives 

In a positive move, the finance minister announced an extension to the research & development (R&D) tax incentive for another 10 years. The relaxation of the requirements for R&D for internal processes has been particularly welcomed. This could be a game-changer, because successful innovation in companies starts by optimising something internally as a result of behavioural data from customers, in an outside-in approach. Previously, R&D tax incentives were allocated only to bringing new products or innovations into the market — a notoriously difficult thing to do, let alone succeed at. 

Looking ahead, SA may be going through a bit of an innovation slump but should not be written off. We have so much to learn from other regions. Whether it’s the collaborative approach and risk-taking culture of Silicon Valley, the culture of rapid prototyping at grassroots level in Shenzhen, or how Stockholm prioritises education, equality, diversity and sustainability.

Global companies still welcome SA teams into new projects. Our pragmatic approach to problem solving and our tenacity in the face of adversity are characteristics that we should all leverage to drive innovation at home and abroad. With solid funding and a shift in how we approach innovation we will quickly be back on top.

Realistic view of innovation prevents rash investment

[Original Source: TechCentral]

While many companies take a big bang, glamorous approach to the design of new products and features, real innovation lies in simply revolutionising existing processes or better understanding the customer — especially in the financial sector where processes are still deeply inefficient.

Shareholder demand for innovation – often taking companies into high-risk, uncharted waters and even cannibalising existing business models – can do more harm than good. Sometimes real innovation is about exploring how to revolutionise existing processes or simply harnessing data to more fully understand the customer.

“First digital transformation, and now artificial intelligence, is causing seismic shifts in how we do business and sometimes results in the disruption of entire value chains. Companies are only just discovering how much data they have and the value of the insights it can deliver. Using new AI tools to deliver these insights can sometimes pave the way to create exciting new offerings and deliver a competitive advantage,” said co-founder of Global Kinetic and CEO of its open banking platform, FutureBank, Sergio Barbosa. Sometimes it’s the boring stuff that is often the most disruptive in an industry. Take payments, for instance

The problem, however, is that before any kind of innovation can begin, data needs to be unlocked from organisational silos. And while not as glamorous as designing new products, Barbosa says a well-crafted integration project which can connect siloed worlds in an efficient and observable way can deliver more for the company, especially over the longer term, than obsessing over new offerings.

By way of example, Barbosa explains that in a sector as fragmented and sometimes archaic as the payment world, a simple piece of integration can fundamentally disrupt the industry.

“In the short term, disruptive technology will displace many human jobs and grab the headlines. But sometimes it’s the boring stuff that is often the most disruptive in an industry. Take payments, for instance. The financial sector is still deeply inefficient and it’s often down in the plumbing where simple, seemingly unglamorous improvements can be earth-shattering in terms of their impact to fundamentally disrupt things,” Barbosa said.

Innovation: improving incrementally

Before embarking on any kind of innovation a company must first determine if it will be genuinely worthwhile.

“Companies need to ensure they are leveraging the data that is available. They should also spend time on validating the problem they intend solving for the customer. Innovation is one thing, but it must be useful if it is going to generate money. Leaders should also collect analytics and usage statistics as well as establish customer feedback loops to ensure they are achieving what they set out to do,” said chief operating officer at Global Kinetic Lorén Rose.

Once a company has satisfied a single use case they can grow from there. Rose says this will allow them to respond to customer feedback and minimise capital outlay. By doing small experiments and learning from each, firms can get to market faster and establish customer feedback and feasibility earlier on. She says this route will also keep the cost of learning lower.

“The ability to innovate and respond to changes in the market is tightly coupled with the quality of your product code base, the context created within the team around the customer, what they are wanting to achieve, and the ability to break down internal silos.

“If you have everyone working towards a single goal that has been designed to benefit your customers, you are more likely to succeed. Having more data on your customers than your competitor is also, of course, vital,” Rose said.

Companies that are afraid of taking small MVPs to market to see how they perform, or those which adopt a waterfall approach to their development are setting themselves up for failure. Rose says one company insisted on a big bang development approach and took four years to go to market. By the time they wanted to go live, their architecture was so outdated it was no longer fit for purpose.

Finally, when it comes to building skills that are best equipped to support agile innovation, Barbosa believes partnerships hold the key.

“The best way to build a new skill or competency is to partner with someone who has already had success in that space, particularly when looking to cross sector boundaries. Once you have an established market and product, then you can look to migrate your competency in-house. Today, the risk of sinking capital into building an in-house competency for an initiative that turns out to be financially unviable is far greater than the risk of not having all your operational IP inhouse.

“The route to ensure innovation that delivers meaningful value to your users and your business is to experiment, validate, establish feasibility and then build operational capability. Small, successive wins that move the needle will ensure you remain relevant and profitable,” he said.

Original Source: TechCentral

South Africa is losing billions to poor-quality software - TechCentral

South African businesses are losing billions of rands due to poor-quality software. And as the economy tightens and skills remain scarce, this is likely to get worse, forcing them to pay to fix avoidable problems and resulting in stalled growth. In an effort to save costs, local companies often fall for the low-quality code trap, writes Sergio Barbosa (CIO, Global Kinetic).

Sergio speaks further on this in the following TechCentral article.

View the PDF version of the article below:

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