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$12bn case for SA innovation

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The local economic outlook remains challenging. To stimulate and grow the economy, greater entrepreneurship and a new approach to innovation are needed. Digitalisation offers us that opportunity, writes WILLIAM MZIMBA.  

In South Africa, there are some tough economic challenges ahead. Unemployment remains high and rating agencies believe that a downgrade of the country’s credit ratings to junk status is still possible at the end of the year. Open innovation through ecosystem expansion could help turn the tide. The evolving digital business environment and business models, supported by new digital technologies, make new and deeper forms of collaboration possible – and greater digital collaboration increasingly correlates with better business and economic performance.

Accenture’s Digital Collaboration Index indicates that digital collaboration can deliver an uplift of $1.5 trillion to global economic outputs. In South Africa, it could raise GDP by almost $12 billion, elevating current GDP by 3.1 percent. So how do we achieve this?

As digital blurs boundaries between industry sectors, lowers barriers to entry and creates bridges, new ecosystems of partners from different industry sectors are forming around the customer, offering them not just products but innovative solutions and ‘experiences’. Many of these partnerships are built on a new form of innovation: open innovation.

What is open innovation?

Open innovation goes beyond narrow-focus first stage innovation such as corporate ventures, incubators and accelerators. It is a more open, equitable form of collaboration involving multiple partners who work together to jointly develop new platforms and applications, enhance core offerings or expand into new markets.

This model provides a catalyst, and the momentum for rapid innovation and growth. It helps enterprises harness the power of entrepreneurs and innovators to bring new ideas, technology and talent into their businesses; and helps start-ups leverage the strengths of bigger players to bring solutions to market and scale up faster.

Accenture has taken this very model and implemented it throughout the company to work with top-tier accelerators, start-ups, venture capitalists, universities and the company’s corporate R&D labs to build and bring to market innovative solutions. Through this connected network Accenture Open Innovation has fuelled new opportunities and growth for pioneering clients.

It’s also a model that has an important role to play specifically in South Africa.

Digital technologies, products and services will play a significant role in revenue generation for South African companies, accounting for almost one-third of total revenues in the next three years. Yet South African companies have been slow to exploit the potential of digital to increase collaboration and innovation – the new platform models that characterise digital age business remain rare and the majority of companies still focus on early-stage innovation models.

The journey to open and ecosystem innovation?

In South Africa, a foundation to facilitate digitally based innovation needs to be built and that foundation needs to extend beyond technology. This will require a mindset change and the establishment of an enterprise framework to facilitate what Accenture terms “guided disruption”.

To put the fundamentals in place for open innovation, companies should:

·       Discover: Explore the “art of the possible” and identify potential ecosystem partners, technologies and opportunities that align to clearly defined business goals

·       Build the foundation: foster a culture of open innovation and back it with investment, leadership support, incentives and business tools and programmes that facilitate greater external collaboration.

·       Develop a bridge: collaborate with people and organisations that can act as a gateway to innovation ecosystems. Organisations and businesses who recognise the power of these connection points will prove instrumental partners.

·       Develop and deploy: co-innovation among multiple partners minimises internal investment, allowing for rapid prototyping but the deployment of solutions at scale in a digital ecosystem can be challenging – build the foundation to support this using best practices.

The journey to open innovation will not be easy but, if we get it right, it will enable South African companies to leapfrog the evolutionary stages of innovation to significant advantage. This can bring about an uptick in South Africa’s economic growth and a step change in problem resolution.

* William Mzimba, Chief Executive South and Sub-Saharan Africa at Accenture

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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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