Without investing in innovation, you will always be susceptible to competition, but the right strategy requires time, funding and a process to create the innovation required for future growth, says PIERRE AUREL, Strategic Project Manager, e4.
That innovation is important and necessary for survival goes without saying. While there is no universal solution for organisations looking to improve their ability to generate, develop, and disseminate new ideas, some strategies are superior to others.
“The process of innovation should continuously introduce new value or benefits to your customer. If you’re not doing that, you can expect to be disrupted,” says Pierre Aurel, Strategic Project Manager, e4. “Without investing in innovation, you will always be susceptible to competition. The right strategy requires time, funding and a process to create the innovation required for future growth.”
Securing a competitive edge is one goal of innovation; the other is finding new markets as well, allowing a business to move both vertically and laterally across markets. Aurel notes that in order to future-proof themselves, organisations need to objectively evaluate their strengths and weaknesses before embarking on a strategy of innovation. “So instead of the tired old SWOT analysis, an evaluation of how well the business performs in three stages of innovation: Ideation, Creation and Diffusion. A business needs to understand its own internal dynamics first and ultimately where it wants to go.”
An innovation value chain offers a comprehensive framework for doing just that. By breaking innovation down into the three phases of idea generation, conversion, and diffusion, the strategy encourages organisations to look at ways to improve their weaker areas first, either through collaboration, outsourcing or acquisition. Aurel points at Google’s approach to managing the innovation process and budget allocation operating on the 70/20/10 model. “70 percent of projects are dedicated to core business, 20 percent of projects are related to core business, and 10 percent of projects are unrelated to core business. This staggered approach ensures they are able to keep the lights on while searching for the next breakthrough.”
Crucially, businesses should look at innovation as a long-term process rather than a knee-jerk reaction to a changing environment. A helpful starting point is listening to customers and beginning the innovation process from there. “Customer centricity is key, so talk to your customers, listen to their needs and views. Don’t create an exclusive innovation team that operates in isolation. If they are not collaborating with the rest of your organisation, it’s a major problem,” Aurel explains adding that innovation shouldn’t be the exclusive function of one team or executive, rather it should be inclusive, transparent and allow ideas to come from anyone. “Don’t shoot down ideas without using some metric or model to validate the potential of the idea,” he says.
To be sure, finding the right balance for innovation to succeed is a challenging prospect for organisations. Aurel suggests looking for external help while ensuring the innovation process is funded and staffed appropriately. “I think every organisation has the ability to be innovative. Partner with a company in a different industry and create an innovation exchange programme. Swap employees for a couple of days, let them become immersed in different world – their new perspectives and opinions may surprise you.”
Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart
Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.
As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page
KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching.
The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter.
The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style.
The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button.
The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on.
In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode.
Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.
Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.
Find them on Kickstarter here.
Taxify enters Google Maps
A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.
People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.
Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.
Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.
If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.
This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.
“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.
Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.