One of our best 2016 MBA theses on digitisation

Digitisation of self-service channels in emerging markets as a growth strategy

By: Subban Prian 2017



A lower cost of acquisition and cost of servicing consumers in emerging markets equates to economic benefit for organisations using digital self-service channels as a platform for consumer engagement. The challenge faced by these companies is the need to become more digitally inclusive by distributing their products and services through digital self-service channels and benefit economically through the consumer adoption of these channels. In the context of consumer adoption, this exploratory research study investigates the barriers to customer acceptance and customer adoption and how organisations can leverage digital self-service channels to their advantage.

The research study presents an opportunity to explore challenges such as overcoming barriers to customer acceptance, adoption, satisfaction, retention and cost-efficiency gains that leads to the full scale adoption of digital self-service channels. The research study was conducted in Gauteng with senior management and industry experts representing South African based companies.

Data for the study was gathered through ten semi-structured interviews using the long interview method. The subjects of the study were selected using a non-probability purposed sampling technique. The results suggest that the cost of sale and the cost of service are lower than that of traditional channels. Organisations acknowledge that customer insights, seamless internal processes and social influences are key components in the customer life-cycle journey. The results reveal that the barriers to customer acceptance and adoption are shared with customer education, engagement, knowing the customer needs, and perceived value. When these are resolved, customer adoption is achieved.


  • Digitisation
  • Self-service channels
  • Customer adoption
  • Customer acceptance

Alert: New books

Dear All

Please note that the following books have been added to the Information Centre’s collection and available for use.

There’s no good alternative to investing in R&D

By: Anne Marie Knott April 17, 2018


Even companies that claim to have a long-term orientation worry about whether R&D is worth the investment. Sarah Williamson is the CEO of FCLTGlobal (formerly Focusing Capital on the Long Term), an organization cofounded in 2016 by BlackRock, CPPIB, Dow Chemical, McKinsey, and Tata Sons to encourage a longer-term focus in business and investment decision making. According to Williamson, a current concern among many institutional investors as well as corporations is that long-term investments in R&D have little payoff. This is both because the resulting knowledge might walk out the door, as employees join other firms or start their own, and because you can acquire firms who have the needed technology. If everyone followed that logic, however, there’d be little innovation to walk out the door or to acquire! Fortunately, neither of these concerns is warranted, and my research shows why companies, investors, and the nation will be better off if companies make long-term investments in R&D.

R&D Seldom Walks Out the Door

If an employee comes up with a great new product or a technical discovery during R&D, aren’t they likely to leave the company, either to found a startup or to join a competitor? In fact, this is unlikely. For one thing, most industries just don’t have many new startups, period. A recent study indicates that the average rate of new firm creation in an industry is 0.06%. This means in an industry of 100 firms, you can expect a new firm every 17 years. Related research looked at employee movement to both startups and existing firms and obtained similar results. Although the setting was law firms, rather than technology firms, all the assets in those firms reside in human capital. Even in that setting, where starting a firm is as simple as hanging a shingle, the researchers found that the probability of employees leaving to create new firms is 1%. Moreover, their work indicates that the employees you most want to keep are the ones most likely to stay. The likelihood of staying increases with both education and company tenure. Furthermore, if you treat these employees well, they are even morelikely to stay. The likelihood of leaving decreases with pay (until salary reaches $5.2 million).

Small Firms Are Not More Innovative

What about the claim that companies can buy technology downstream through acquisitions? The first problem with this view is that it ignores where most innovation comes from. The prevailing view is that small, entrepreneurial companies are the source of innovation and growth in our economy. While it’s true that a small number of new firms are disproportionately innovative, big companies are the primary source of invention. Recent research I conducted under a grant from the National Science Foundation, and documented in my book, How Innovation Really Works, reveals that large companies invest more in R&D and have higher RQ (research quotient, a measure of the return on R&D investments). Companies with more than 500 employees not only do 5.75 times more R&D than small companies, but their R&D is 13% more productive — meaning large firms are the real engine of economic growth.

Given that large companies have more-productive R&D, why are small companies considered more innovative? For one thing, small-company innovation is often more visible. Small companies have to swing for the fences to attract market share from large companies, and home runs attract attention. The problem with swinging for the fences, however, is that the probability of hitting a home run is extremely low. Similarly, the probability of small company success is low: On average, only 25% of venture capital–backed startups ever return their invested capital. Further, VC-backed companies are a select group, as fewer than 5% of companies receive venture capital. So while hitting a home run attracts a lot of attention, it is the exception, not the rule.

A second reason people may think small companies are more innovative is that when they say “small,” they are typically thinking “young.” The general impression that small companies are more innovative stems from the fact we see the tremendous success of a handful of former startup companies: Amazon, Google, Apple. These former startups are still relatively young by corporate standards, and most have an advantage in that they still have their founders. While we don’t know all the reasons this is important, founders have stronger strategies (which is why they became successful) and better intuition about how all the pieces work and fit together (because they’ve managed the company from the seed stage). Both of these lead to better management and higher RQ. In addition, however, the company’s success allows the founder to maintain their strategy in the face of investor pressure for current profits. Thus, they exhibit less short-termism.

Startup Innovations Don’t Really Come from the Startup

So far, you might say, OK, there aren’t too many innovative startups. But shouldn’t big companies just try to acquire those few startups as a substitute for doing R&D internally? The answer is no. The reason why is that those startups appear more innovative than they really are, because their initial innovation typically comes from outside. It is well-known that Bill Gates didn’t develop DOS — he bought it for $50,000 from Seattle Computer Co. Similarly, Steve Jobs developed a graphical user interface after seeing one at Xerox PARC and hiring employees who had worked there. These stories are the rule rather than the exception. In a 2003 survey of Inc 500 companies, only 21% were based on ideas the founders researched on their own. The most likely source of ideas is the founder’s prior job. Fully 52% of venture ideas come from their prior company or industry, and another 14% come from a buyer or supplier to that industry. This isn’t to say that founders walked out the door with their employers’ intellectual property. This is merely saying that when all your expertise and contacts are tied to one industry, they likely have the greatest value as a new venture in that industry.

The late Steve Klepper conducted a series of industry studies examining how founders’ origins affected the likelihood that they would succeed in their new ventures. What he found across these industries is that the most successful startups came from founders who had worked for young, successful companies in the same industry. What these founders brought with them was a deep understanding of how the industry operates. They also brought with them a sense of how the product offered by the prior employer could be improved and where there was opportunity for new products that weren’t profitable for the former employer to pursue. The point of all this is that the innovations small companies are credited with often originate in large companies. So the best place for large companies to find innovation is to look inside. This is precisely what Xerox did when it created Xerox Technology Ventures. Whereas other corporate venture capital funds invest in external startups, Xerox’s invested in technologies emerging from Xerox PARC. The result was that its annual returns were four times that of the average VC fund.

What Happens When Companies Acquire Technology Firms

We’ve seen that when large firms have forgone developing a technology internally, it’s highly unlikely that it will be able to find a small company with that technology. Let’s assume for the moment, however, that such companies did exist. What’s the record on technology acquisitions?

Yazin Ozcan shared data on 2,378 technology mergers and acquisitions that he compiled for his paper “Innovation and Acquisitions.” His paper identified the top 16 technology acquirers (those with more than 10 technology acquisitions between 1986 and 2007). For each of the 17 companies, I compared their RQ with that of their industry. Seventy percent of these acquirers have lower average RQ than their industry, and all but three of them have below-average RQ. Thus these companies seem to be following the maxim “Those that can, do; those that can’t, acquire” — precisely the strategy captured in the ethos Sarah Williamson mentioned: “Instead of doing R&D, we’ll acquire companies who do.” The problem is that this ethos applied to the new acquisitions kills the target’s R&D as well — thus the lower RQ of acquirers.

In addition to this simple check of the 16 “high acquirers,” I conducted more formal analysis for the full set of technology acquisitions. In the analysis, I controlled for the initial quality of the acquiring company and examined what happened to their RQ as they assimilated their targets. I found that an increase in three-year acquisition intensity (dollars of acquisitions divided by acquirer’s revenues) corresponds with a significant decrease in company RQ. On average, a company with acquisitions whose value is 50% of its revenues sees a nine-point decrease in RQ following the acquisitions. At the very least, technology acquisitions fail to turn around troubled companies. More likely, they actively harm them.

There’s No Easy Alternative to R&D

In summary, there is no free lunch. Acquiring your way to innovation doesn’t work — the only way to stay innovative as a big company is to invest in R&D. Luckily for big companies, investing in R&D is a good strategy. Your inventors will seldom walk out the door with your ideas. And recognizing that you can’t buy the technology downstream will force you to be more productive with your R&D investment. Higher R&D productivity yields higher profits, growth, and market value per dollar of R&D.

But these conclusions make big companies’ reluctance to invest in R&D all the more concerning. If the large companies currently responsible for the innovation engines in this country shut down those engines in anticipation of acquiring technology startups downstream, they won’t just hurt themselves. With less big-company R&D to exploit, there will be fewer or less innovative startups. Most important, the entire nation will experience lower growth.

Skills to put on a resume and impress your employer


Every single time you sit down to type your resume, how you wish you could read the minds of potential employers! Figuring out what they are exactly looking for can be mind-boggling.

So, does that mean you write a complete essay going gaga about your achievements and skills? No. Employers have to go through hundreds of resumes everyday, and they read the same ‘excellent communication skills’ and ‘team orientation’ in almost all the applications that they receive.

If your resume is nothing but a copy of an Internet sample, it will simply be glossed over. Therefore, instead of writing a mini-autobiography, putting in a few job-oriented skills would be a better option. Though the skills you put in will vary according to the job you are applying for, and should be relevant to the current requirements for a particular job, here are a few basic ones to help you out. Most companies look out for these skills when looking to hire a candidate, they believe will be a true asset to them. With these skills highlighted on your resume, your chances at getting the job will get a huge boost.

1. Start With a Cover Letter

A cover letter is one of the several ways in which you can make your resume stand out. Writing a good cover letter takes some practice, and one can benefit from shared experiences of job seekers, who have written cover letters for their resume.

  • A cover letter is a document which explains your education, work experience, and your skills relevant to the position being applied for.
  • It enables the employer to understand you as a professional even before they look at your actual qualifications.
  • The letter should be brief and specific in regard to the position, your relevant education, work experience, a short listing of your skills, and why you think the job is suitable for you.
  • This is the first document that an employer will see, and it increases your chances of being accepted, if made professionally.

2. Analytical and Conceptual Skills

  • Your analytical skills deal with your ability to visualize a problem and come up with a logical solution for the same.
  • An analytically-skilled individual can not only figure out the problems in the organization, but also comes up with different ideas to solve them.
  • Conceptual skills help an individual to see the organization as a whole, which will enable him to come up with ideas for smooth functioning of the company.
  • Include instances where you have used this ability, either from educational or work experiences.

3. Organizational and Planning Skills

Organizational and planning skills are a very essential part of any resume.

  • They include goal-setting, i.e. to plan a given task and finish it in the given time.
  • Not only do good organizational skills benefit you professionally, they also help you in your personal growth.
  • If your work is well-planned, there will be fewer errors, which will, in turn, save your time and energy.
  • Fewer errors automatically result in increased productivity. This is one skill that is highly valued by employers.

4. Interpersonal Skills

These are the skills we use in our day-to-day lives to communicate and interact with people around us.

  • Effective interpersonal skills not only help us to get work done faster but also to develop a friendly environment at work.
  • They also help you to work effectively as a team as well as encourage your fellow team members.
  • These are also helpful in solving a dispute.
  • Leadership is also a part of interpersonal skills. Encouraging and motivating people to work as a team will definitely make them develop faith in you.
  • An individual with good interpersonal skills will have good listening skills and proper body language.

5. Personal Skills

Personal skills are your strengths which will prove beneficial for the company’s growth. These include the following:

» Self-motivated: An individual who lacks any kind of enthusiasm towards his work is the last thing that employers want. To be able to encourage others, you should yourself be self-motivated. It helps give your best to work, and will in turn motivate the others around you.

» Adaptability: Employers always look for an employee who is adaptable to changes, and is open to new and creative ideas of working. An individual with adaptability and multitasking skills is always respected.

» Responsible: No employer will want an employee who is irresponsible towards his/her duties. A sense of responsibility ensures your employers that you value your work, and that they can rely on you.

» Punctual: This is another quality that is valued at a workplace. Being punctual develops a feeling of respect and trust towards you. You are regarded as a reliable person if you are punctual.

» Innovative: Employers always look for an individual who can come up with new and creative ideas for the betterment of the company.

» Dynamic: A person who is dynamic, energetic, and has a positive attitude towards life is a source of inspiration to other employees.

» Good Learner: Any employee should always be ready to learn new things, no matter what age or background they come from. With rapid technological developments, there is always scope for change. If you possess this skill, you will always be appreciated wherever you go.

6. Technical/Computer Skills

Technical skills are a must when applying for any kind of job. Computers are inescapable in the way business is carried out today.

  • To start with, one must be very well-trained in operating Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
  • Other computer skills to put on a resume vary with your qualifications and the job profile.
  • For instance, a database management job will require you to have relevant experience or knowledge of software like MS Access or Excel.
  • For a design job, you need to be acquainted with Adobe Photoshop and other such software.
  • Basic knowledge of using the Internet is another prerequisite.

What Not to Do

Although the above sections deal with skills which must necessarily find a place on your resume, there are also certain aspects of resume writing which must be avoided at all costs.

✘ Do Not Lie: Why? It’s simple, really. Liars are caught, sooner rather than later. It’s unprofessional to inflate achievements and show experience for work you have never been remotely near to. Plus, in a world overflowing with social media and search engines, it isn’t difficult for an employer to run a quick background check on you. Or they can hire companies to do it, in which case, you may be left unemployed and blacklisted.

✘ Outdated Info: Try and cull whatever irrelevant information your resume may have been burdened with over the years. Employers are interested in skill sets which are readily applicable to their business models. They will not be interested in volunteer work or old college projects that you may have undertaken. Keep what recent certifications you have obtained, any tech-related skills, and whatever is applicable for the position. Filter out the rest.

✘ No Photos Please: Employers are not (usually) interested in the way you look. It’s your skills that matter to them. Leave your smiling mugshot off the resume, unless of course you are trying for a modeling assignment.

✘ Talking About Your Dog: No human resource manager wants to know how well you have trained Spotty. They require the talents you have, and how useful you can be to the company. All other tidbits about your family life and the warmth of the small town where your formative years were spent, is just irrelevant to them. Focus on what professional impression you wish to make.

It is very important that you show instances of how you have displayed each skill, so that the employer believes you. Even if you do not have experience, explain how you have demonstrated that skill in other areas of your life, in brief. If you have documentation for your past experiences, even better. Try to be as precise as possible in drafting your resume, for it is the ambassador of your skills and talents.

These are the 25 biggest listed companies in the country

By: Staff Writer march 23, 2018


Rank Company Market Cap
1 AB InBev SA R2 178.6 billion
2 British American Tobacco R1 565.1 billion
3 Naspers R1 447.6 billion
4 Glencore Xtrata R872.5 billion
5 Richemont R561.0 billion
6 BHP Billiton R492.9 billion
7 Anglo American R397.2 billion
8 FirstRand R386.9 billion
9 Standard Bank Group R353.0 billion
10 Vodacom Group R266.3 billion
11 Sasol R259.9 billion
12 MTN Group R230.4 billion
13 Old Mutual R204.4 billion
14 Sanlam R199.5 billion
15 Barclays Africa (Absa) R164.8 billion
16 South32 R157.5 billion
17 Shoprite Holdings R151.2 billion
18 Nedbank Group R142.8 billion
19 Remgro R120.4 billion
20 Aspen Pharmacare R117.1 billion
21 Mondi Plc R116.2 billion
22 Discovery Holdings R115.0 billion
23 RMB Holdings R114.8 billion
24 Capitec R103.6 billion
25 Kumba Iron Ore R97.6 billion

7 traits of exceptional leaders

By: Sherrie Campbell March 23, 2017


Emotions are the universal language. The way the emotions are felt is the same in each of us. What triggers our emotion is individual, but if we can feel our own pain then we can know what it is like for another to feel their pain. Because of this projective identification, it allows us to empathize and lead others with greater awareness and increased bonding. To be an exceptional leader we must be able to place ourselves in the shoes of another, and feel what they are feeling.

1. Self-awareness

Great leaders are deeply knowledgeable about themselves and committed to their own personal development. To be great we must do the same. The most influential people on earth, those who have left the most significant impact, led from the heart. Empathy is not something we learn from a book. It is gained through suffering. From our suffering, we come to accept pain and challenge as integral parts of life, and totally necessary for great leadership. Think about it, would you want to follow a leader who had never suffered? How would this person know what to do, or how to lead us on the front lines if they’ve never been there before? To be great, we must know how to lead ourselves through our own fears in order to know how to lead others through theirs.

2. Self-control

Empathy is most easily sacrificed when we’re upset, angry or disappointed with another person. We tend to be the most hurtful and impatient in these situations. The important thing to try and practice is taking a moment to get clear before speaking.

Great leaders tell others when a conversation will need to wait until they are clear enough to communicate responsibly. There is a wisdom to knowing that conversations can be placed on hold. We cannot be reactive and empathic in tandem. In taking some time, we are able to take in the feeling experience and perception of the other in a way that makes sense, or at least arouses questions that can be asked with empathy, rather than accusation. We get a lot further in business when we have enough empathy for the other to make sure and harness our own self-control before we speak.

3. Communication

Empathy is the great healer of miscommunication. It is the emotion that moves people and situations through times of being stuck. Without empathy, solutions are forced, rather than powerful. Exceptional leaders count on empathy as a catalyst for change. It makes communication a two-way, collaborative, reflective process. It allows for vulnerability. With empathy people feel seen and important. To develop a working environment conducive to success, we must be able to meet people where they are. We must be able to understand, respect and implement another person’s point of view, rather than only our own. This type of communication introduces the concept of fairness into the success equation.

When we’re empathic we care about how other people are. Exceptional leaders ask others how they are doing, what they need, and what they feel. This increases bonding, honesty and connection. When we have a clear idea of how others feel about what they’re doing, we can better support and guide them. When others trust that we support them, they realize they’re not alone and without help. We must keep in mind that if we want others to be invested in what we’re doing, and to respond with cooperation to what we’re asking, then we must consider their ideas and also how they perceive who we are. To be great, we must use empathy to guide all aspects of our lives, allowing it to influence not only what we say, but also allowing it to influence how we say what we say, and allow it to direct the kinds of questions we need to ask. When these steps are taken, it naturally inspires the development of empathy within others.

5. Boundaries

Exceptional leaders expect to face situations where they realize the only way a person on their team can grow is to either have to withdrawal their support from that person, or to set boundaries around their support in an effort to protect their generous nature. To remain empathic, great leaders know they must protect their hearts, and put themselves first in negative situations. Through trial and error, we must also come to understand that there are people who can stay in our hearts, but not in our lives or businesses. If we are dealing with a person incapable of empathy, we must separate from them. All it takes is one toxic person to short circuit an entire team’s path to success. It is impossible to work with someone who is constantly defensive and unwilling to listen or take feedback.

6. Kindness

Great leaders, lead from the heart. They live the wisdom that it is the kindness of their spirit, how they treat, think about, and relate to others that makes all the difference when it comes to developing a cohesive team driven to succeed. When we’re kind, we naturally come from a genuine and sensitive place. Exceptional leaders are kind and use empathy to guide their every word, deed and action. When we have this, we are able to be kind, even to those we do not care for. This is not a weakness or a vulnerability. To be empathic is our greatest influence over others. There is truly no human quality that will take us further in life than kindness. We must not strive just to be successful. We must strive to be exceptional. Anyone can be successful.

7. Unselfish

Great leaders give back. They understand that they get more from giving, then from getting. When we give back, it increases our own quality of life, our perception of what we have and it reminds us to be thankful for our lives, as we witness the impact we have on the lives of others. When we give back, we feel good. It reminds us of the love and abundance we have in our lives, inspiring us to continue to strive to succeed to have more and more to give back. To be exceptional we must embrace the power that comes from giving. Giving back is relationship building. It is through an involvement in our communities that we develop quality relationships which also give back to us. People want to be linked with others who are giving. People want to work for people and companies that care. Great leaders do not want to be remembered for their net worth, they would rather be remembered for how they made other people feel.

Exceptional leaders live by the Golden Rule. To be exceptional in our own right, we must do the same. We must put ourselves in the situation of the other and ask how we would like to be treated in their situation, and do our best to provide them what they deserve. The more empathy we bring to our more challenging relationship problems, business negotiations or disciplinary situations the more successful we will be. Empathy, humility, kindness and understanding all come from love. There is nothing more appealing to others then to be in the presence of a loving person. Exceptional leaders live this wisdom.