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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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Dell plans 50/50 gender split; 1:1 recycling and reuse

Dell Technologies has unveiled an ambitious 2030 target for a social impact plan called Progress Made Real.

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Dell Technologies has declared a decade of responsibility and innovation to ramp up the company’s social impact worldwide. At the company’s Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, Texas, last week, chairman and CEO Michael Dell unveiled a set of ambitious goals in a plan called 2030 Progress Made Real.

“Unlocking the power of data will advance humanity more than any other force over the next decade,” said Dell. “We are committed to making that power broadly available to communities around the world, so we can all move forward together.”

Over the next decade, he said, Dell Technologies will use its global scale, broad technology portfolio and expertise to yield meaningful and measurable impact on society and the planet. 

The plan sets the following goals for the company:

Advance sustainability 

·        Recycle an equivalent product for every product a customer buys

·        Lead the circular economy with more than half of all product content being made from recycled or renewable material 

·        Use 100% recycled or renewable material in all packaging 

·        Deliver future-ready skills development for workers in their supply chain

·        Drive a comprehensive science-based climate program, setting emissions goals across facilities, supply chain and operations to customer use of our products including partnering with suppliers to meet a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 60% per unit revenue by 2030

Cultivate inclusion

·        Acquire, develop and retain women so they account for 50% of the company’s global workforce and 40% of global people managers

·        Acquire, develop and retain black/African American and Hispanic team members so they account for 25% of the company’s U.S. workforce and 15% of U.S. people managers 

·        Educate 95% of all team members on an annual basis about unconscious bias, harassment, micro-aggressions and privilege 

Transform lives

·        Advance the health, education and economic opportunity of 1 billion people

·        Digitally transform 1,000 nonprofit organisations

·        Achieve 75% team member participation in charitable giving and volunteerism in communities

The company says ethics and privacy are foundational to its corporate and social impact strategies and are essential to executing the 2030 goals. To this end, it is fully automating data control processes, making it easier for customers to access, delete or share their personal data. The company will use digital tools to make it easier to get insights from, measure and monitor compliance issues using digital data. 

In addition to seeking customer input, Dell Technologies engaged third parties, considered the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, and surveyed team members to assess the most critical issues and opportunities they see in their work and the world.

“We have a great responsibility to apply the full power of Dell Technologies to transform lives and society,” said Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell Technologies. “By combining our technology portfolio, global scale, team member talent and customer partnerships, we can drive significant positive impact. Our 2030 agenda is comprehensive and deeply embedded across the business. The moonshot goals stretch us to go far beyond incremental change. In some cases, we’re still working to uncover how we’ll get there – but we know that significant change and innovation starts with deep commitment.”

In June 2019, Dell Technologies announced early completion of many of its 2020 goals. For example, through a global recycling network, it reached a 2020 goal of recycling 2-billion pounds of used electronics.  Through partnerships with the Government of India and Tata Trusts, it deployed a cloud-based analytics solution to deliver preventive healthcare to remote villages, reaching 11 million people who would otherwise not have these services. A range of additional social impact goals have also been reached (see graphic below)

* For the full list of 2030 goals, see delltechnologies.com/2030goals

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Behind the scenes of Netflix SA’s Queen Sono

South Africa’s first Netflix Original TV show, Queen Sono, is almost ready to air. Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER spoke to the show’s creators on set.

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In the heart of Johannesburg, a house is about to make history as one of the first homes to have a South African Netflix Original filmed inside. During filming, it’s surrounded by a dozen large trucks that carry props, camera equipment, set equipment and equipment needed to make this production a reality. 

We chatted with Queen Sono’s writer, director, and showrunner, Kagiso Lediga, on set recently. He also heads up Diprente, the Johannesburg-based production company behind the show.

“[Being writer and director] gives one the ability to carry out the vision,” says Lediga. “I mean, it’s not just that I’m wearing many hats. But there’s the other creators, other HODs: from production designer to cinematographer, to the other writers that I work with. So it’s great, I guess that being a showrunner you kind of have to touch on all of those.

“It’s a huge responsibility in terms of carrying out the narrative. You know, sometimes what’s great is when you come up with an idea, and then when you see it when, either you’re sitting behind the monitor, directing, or while you’re sitting and editing, and you’re like ‘Whoa, that’s exactly how we imagined it’.”

The show is an action-packed series that follows Queen Sono, a highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.

Of course, the gravity of being a Netflix Original means that Queen Sono will be put on a global stage, and will be available to stream in over 40 countries. We asked the show’s Director of Photography, Motheo Moeng, how the show’s image has been carefully crafted for a local and global audience.

“Overall, the treatment of the show is based on the characters we have written, naturally, and other spy films that we have looked at,” says Moeng. “So the treatment of her visually, and the look to the show visually, had that in mind. So as much as you wanted to treat it as an African show, we were well aware that it had to have international appeal.”

It’s also dangerous work getting the show to be perfect, Moeng says.

“It’s like being in a boxing ring, so there are days when you’re getting punched, there are days when you have to stand up and go. But overall, I guess the banter between myself and the first aiders is interesting. Our jobs are a direct contrast to each other; I’m trying to constantly light and make things look pretty, and he has to make sure we make the day, so if you stick around for long enough, you’ll see the love-hate relationship between us.”

Stunt Coordinators Grant Powell and Filip-Ciprian ‘Chip’ Florian have us a quick insight into how to get the actors (and film crew) ready for a spy movie’s action.

“[Most productions] have the same demands because they all have the same elements,” says Powell. “It doesn’t matter how big the movie, they’re still an actor. An actor still has to be trained. I still have to deal with the psychology of that. Convincing them that they can do it. So it really doesn’t matter the scale of the film, you’re still dealing with the same elements, which is training an actor from scratch sometimes.

“There was a combat scene with Queen Sono and the baddies, and she kicks one of them out the window, which is Chip by the way. So he goes through plate glass, goes over the balcony, three stories up and lands on a car. I thought that was cool. We had three weeks prep, which is great for a local show. You never get that, you’re usually learning on the day. That’s why the audience will instantly see the quality will be better because of this preparation. That’s what’s going to make this show stand out over and above anything that’s ever been done locally.”

Queen Sono is expected to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2020.

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