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

Five things emerging economies can do to attract the best talent

By: Mauro F. Guillén December  08, 2017


Emerging market companies need talent to be competitive in the global marketplace. They have made much progress in attracting it. Barely a decade ago, most young, bright graduates in China and India preferred to work for Western companies. These companies paid better and offered more opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

That was then. Now emerging market companies can attract some of the best talent, locally and globally. In 2016, Alibaba launched a Global Leadership Academy to offer young, aspiring managers from the US and Europe a 16-month stint at its corporate headquarters. It has already poached executives from well-established technology and financial services companies. Dr. Reddy, an Indian pharmaceutical multinational, consistently wins awards in the US for being a great employer.

Fortune magazine’s latest list of the 25 Best Companies to Work For includes Natura of Brazil, Belcorp of Peru, and Falabella of Chile. These companies have dedicated themselves to attracting and nurturing talent for years. However, challenges remain. The allure of working for a Western company is still deeply ingrained in the hearts and minds of university graduates and mid-career managers in emerging markets. Many still believe that compensation levels, bonuses and promotions are more attractive than at local firms. For aspiring managers with an essentially technical skillset, this assumption is correct.

But circumstances are different for those with so-called softer managerial skills. These include the ability to negotiate or work effectively in multicultural teams, complementing a core financial or marketing knowledge. As the service sector grows throughout Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, demand for talent in healthcare, the creative industries, and professional services will soar.

Consider South Korea, which has already made the transition from being predominantly a manufacturing hub to a more diversified service-driven economy. It has created more than four million highly-qualified service jobs in the past decade. As China undergoes a similar transition, it will require at least 40 million educated professionals in the 25 largest cities alone. In the Indian economy, which is far less dependent on manufacturing for growth, demand for this type of talent is even greater.

China has the advantage of a vibrant university system that churns out the largest number of graduates of any country in the world. But it lacks the dynamism of India’s younger population, which seems to have an almost unlimited supply of technical graduates across a number of critical fields. Brazil and Mexico are also starting to reel from smaller young age cohorts.

Competition for talent in China will be acute. This is likely to lead the country’s emerging, rapidly-growing firms to redouble their efforts at attracting talent, including from abroad. Emerging Chinese multinationals report having less trouble attracting talent for their international operations than for positions in China. To a large extent, this is due to the unpleasant living conditions in the country’s major cities. The air quality and traffic congestion deter many foreigners from considering a move. While Indian companies have more qualified locals available to them as potential hires, they will also face challenges in the future when attracting foreigners to work in India.

Future strategies for talent development in emerging markets must address at least five key areas:

– Allocating resources to education, not just in technical fields but also in soft skills

– Ensuring that employment conditions and career prospects at the largest emerging market multinationals continue to improve, so that working for them is at least as attractive as working for a Western firm

– Attracting talent from other countries to positions both in the home country and around the world

– Making life in the largest cities of the emerging world more pleasant, convenient and affordable

– Ensuring that local firms do not have to pay a premium for talent. In the long-term, this would undermine the competitiveness of both companies and the economy

Companies in emerging markets cannot win the competition for talent by themselves. A country’s physical infrastructure, education and quality of life are key factors. Only collaboration with governments, from the local to national level, will achieve the outcome these companies need.

One of our top MBA theses on advertising

Optimal media schedules in emerging markets: A South African perspective establishing the inherent characteristics that influence return on investment for advertising spend.

By Amy Beck

Source:  November 2014


The effect of advertising efforts on sales is of significant interest for global brands. Recent developments in emerging markets such as South Africa have brought the concept of consumer purchase behaviour in generating sales, under review. New media schedules are required to transition emerging market consumers to purchase products/services through effective marketing media platforms and through consumer brand equity whilst including price sensitivities into the media-mix. This study adds to the current literature by investigating which variables have the most significant influence in promoting and generating sales in emerging markets through the use of various advertising efforts. The primary focus was to establish an optimal marketing media schedule from which advertisers are able to choose a particular marketing media schedule to maximise their respective firms’ sales. This study investigated marketing media platforms, brand perceptions and price sensitivities. These included the influence of internet, television, radio, press and outdoor media platforms, price sensitivities and consumer brand equity in promoting sales within emerging markets. Data to support the relevant influences was gathered through secondary data from Nielsen Holdings N.V. (an American global information and measurement company) and the South African Research Audience Foundation (SAARF). Six washing detergent brands were selected for the study, where a complete data set could be sourced. The most influential variables in determining sales generation was consumer brand equity followed by price sensitivity. This allowed the derivation of a model extension from models identified in previous literature with the derived model including such influential variables by which brands could determine the most favourable marketing mix schedule and thereby allocate budgetary resources where necessary.

Mozambique economy 2014: recent developments and prospects


Mozambique’s offshore fields hold a combined 150 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, estimated to be enough to meet world consumption for more than two years. Negotiations between international consortia and the government to build a USD 40 billion LNG plant are dragging on with several players competing for the contract. The main consortium leaders, the US company, Anadarko, and Italian company, Eni, have reduced their investments in the project, selling stakes to new partners primarily from power hungry emergent economies. This has a two-fold outcome of diversifying funding sources for the LNG projects, while also potentially securing new markets for the final product. New entrants from India (ONGC Videsh) and China (CNPC) joined India’s Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Japan’s Mitsui & Co, Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production, and Galp Energia from Portugal. With an international partner yet to be selected, LNG production along with the sizeable contribution it will make to public finances is unlikely to start before 2020.


How to Profit From Emerging Market Consumers

See on Scoop.itCentre for Dynamic Markets

cnsumerismThe growing wealth of emerging market consumers is a theme that presents rich opportunity for savvy investors, with fund managers pointing to China as the region of focus.

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

consumerism , EM –  “ emerging market middle-class consumers are estimated to reach 960 million by 2020 against just 77 million baby boomers in the U.S. In addition, emerging markets will add an average $1.2 trillion of consumer spending to the global economy per year between 2012 and 2016 according to MasterCard, while developed markets will add just $700 billion annually.”

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Ten emerging countries hot on the heels of the BRICS – International | Moneyweb

Moneyweb – Breaking news, independent analysis, latest JSE share prices, exchange rates and data on investment, finance and business in South Africa

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

Emerging countries, dynamic markets – ” (Insurance group) . . . Coface broke the 10 new emerging economies it has identified into two groups.  –  The first comprises Peru, the Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia and Sri Lanka, which it named the PPICS. They had “strong potential confirmed by a sound business environment,” Coface said.

The second group comprises Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia.  But these countries are marked by “very difficult or extremely difficult business environments which could hamper their growth prospects,” Coface said.”

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The End of the ‘Developing World’ / WSJ

The old labels no longer apply. Rich countries need to learn from poor ones.

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

DEveloping countries – “It’s time that we start describing the world as “fat” or “lean.”  –   “Lean” societies approach consumption and production with scarcity in mind. In the so-called least developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa, where the gross national income averages just $2,232 per capita, populations are young and hungry — at times for food, but mostly for opportunity. Nothing can be taken for granted or wasted. But resource constraints have provoked an astonishing bounty of homegrown solutions to the problems philanthropists like Mr. Gates address with charity. If necessity is the mother of invention, lean economies have a distinct advantage.

In Lagos, Nigeria, a three-story schoolhouse rises above the waters in Makoko, a fishing hamlet floating on the city lagoon. Made from simple recyclable materials, the school embodies climate resilience and appropriate technology — and educates 100 students daily.

In Khayelitsha, a poor township in South Africa, a stack of repurposed shipping containers serves as a health clinic. Lynette Denny, an obstetrician in Cape Town, uses them for cervical cancer screenings. Her staff does “everything but operate” in the containers. Dr. Denny sees 20 to 30 women each afternoon.

Meanwhile, start-ups in Africa measure their seed-funding rounds in comparatively modest figures. M-Pesa, the mobile-phone banking juggernaut now used by 86 percent of households in Kenya, began with investments of about £900,000 (about $1.5 million) from Vodafone and the British government. Despite lacking the resources richer economies take for granted, similarly lean ventures generate billions of dollars south of the Sahara.   –  So what makes an economy “fat”? The United States is a prime example. Plenty is normal. Gross national income is close to $50,000 per person.

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Why does this investment guru say emerging markets are worth the risk?

As executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, Mark Mobius has connected the dots allowing international investment in foreign markets.

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

Mark Mobius– “More recently, as investors move away from emerging markets, Mobius remains confident in the long-term value of emerging market investing. In a Jan. 30 blog post he explained, saying:

“The bottom line for emerging markets, as I see it, is that the long-term investment case hasn’t dramatically changed. And I don’t see it changing as long as these three themes remain in place: emerging markets’ economic growth rates in general continue to be at least three times faster than those of developed markets; emerging markets have much greater foreign reserves than developed markets; and the debt-to-GDP ratios of emerging market countries generally remain much lower than those of developed markets.”

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Kenneth Rogoff looks beneath the turmoil roiling emerging economies’ equity and currency markets. – Project Syndicate

Emerging-market equities and exchange rates are again under severe downward pressure, but are the underlying economies really as fragile as global traders seem to fear? The short answer, for a few, is probably “yes,” but, for most, “not quite yet.”

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

core problems –   “At the core of emerging-market problems, however, is policy and political backsliding. Here, there are significant differences among countries. In Brazil, the government’s efforts to weaken the central bank’s independence and meddle in energy and lending markets have harmed growth.  –   Turkey is suffering acute challenges to its democratic institutions, as well as government pressure on the central bank. Russia’s failure to develop strong independent institutions has made it difficult for an entrepreneurial class to emerge and help diversify the economy.   In India, central-bank independence remains reasonably strong, with the Reserve Bank of India now mulling a move to an inflation-targeting regime. But a sustained period of populist policies has weakened trend growth and exacerbated inflation.

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