Monthly Archives: April 2016

Part 5: The Roadmap to Customer Centricity: Measurement – Dr Mary Ritz

In a research study I concluded recently it was emphasized the failure to measure customer centricity is one of its major limitations.  It was accentuated that the measurement of customer centricity proves difficult to implement for many organizations because the phenomenon is qualitative in approach. Due to this perceived challenge, most organizations do not find a compelling reason to be customer centric.   For those organizations that do measure the phenomenon, most tend to measure its financial aspects only.  A product centric model tends to take this same approach to business performance measurement.
Alternatively, a customer-centric model requires the measurement of the phenomenon not only in financial terms, but in non-financial terms as well.  The model takes into consideration what is measured, how, and when it is measured.  This implies that all team members need to understand that every single action they take impacts on the customer management or customer experience and the bottom line.     
In the next session of the article, I discuss some of the ways a customer centric organization could measure its performance from both non-financial and financial points of view.    
Non-Financial Aspect 
·         Customer Satisfaction
This is the basic measurement of performance and I consider it a starting point to business performance measurement. It’s an important driver of profitability and, generally, there is a positive relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.  Numerous factors have an impact on customer satisfaction.  Some of the factors include; employee friendliness, knowledge, service quality, helpfulness, and value.  An organization would need to survey and measure these elements to determine customer satisfaction.  Effective survey tools and questionnaires must be used.  A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods must be deployed for optimum measurement.  The National Business Research Institute (NBRI) and American Consumers Satisfaction Index (ACSI) offer a variety of instruments that measure customer satisfaction and employee engagement., for example, has been successful at measuring these customer dimensions and using the information to make informed decisions. 
·         Customer Loyalty
As indicated previously, though customer satisfaction is significant, it’s not always adequate because in some cases a satisfied customer will still switch brands for various reasons.  Customers must be extremely satisfied for it to lead into customer loyalty.  Customer loyalty ushers in sustainable competitive advantage.  Customer loyalty will be achieved through focusing on key customers, proactively generating high level of customer satisfaction with every interaction, anticipating customer needs, and responding to them before competition does.   Moreover, customer loyalty allows building closer ties with customers and creating a value perception.  Rewards programs can help foster customer relationships and their measurement.  Successful programs connect with customers at three levels: introduction, service provider initiated communication, and service provider initiated feedback.  Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are two retailers that are doing better than most in this area.
·         Customer Advocacy
Michael Lowenstein defines customer advocacy as “… active personal espousal or support of a brand, product, service, or company”.  He claims that the concept should not be confused with recommendation, which is simply one possible outcome of advocacy behavior.  Customer advocacy means advocates are deeply (and emotionally) connected and involved with a brand that they energize.  They are vocal and positive about a company and its offerings. Customer advocates are repeat buyers, they refer new business, and provide feedback.  They “defend” and make a business case for the brands in which they believe.  
Customer advocacy includes elements such as brand favorability, evidence and frequency of positive and negative voluntary personal communication, and the likelihood of continued consideration and relationship. Informal communication by advocates is active on a peer-to-peer basis, resulting in the improvement of business performance.  Companies that have benefited from customer advocacy tend to be responsive, accountable, and communicate constantly with their customers and other stakeholders. 
·         Customer Lock-on
According to Sandra Van der Merwe – customer lock-on means “…the customer wants the enterprise as their sole or first choice over time, even over a lifetime.”  Lock-on is voluntary and is anchored in authenticity of the brand and not marketing hype.  It capitalizes on stronger and deeper relationships over time.  Alternatively, customer lock-in happens (for an example) when an entire industry is underperforming.  This means customers will have to deal with the brands or organizations because they have no other option.  It implies that organizations that need to attain customer lock-on have to disrupt an industry and offer new options and solutions that offer great customer experience.  An example of customer lock-on is a South African bank – Capitec Bank – that disrupted the banking industry in that country by offering creative and innovative solutions that the traditional banks were not offering. is another great example of an industry disruptor that has achieved customer lock-on. 
Financial Measurements
Though the financial performance measurement should not be the only form of measurement organizations use, it plays a significant role. Organizations are in business to make money, so, ultimately, this is the definitive measurement in the long term.  Measurements such as return on sales and return on investment fall under this category.  The most important aspect to business performance measurement, assuming all the customer dimensions (mentioned above) are managed and measured effectively, is that there will be a positive impact on the financial performance of an organization over time.
At the core of measurement, the clarity of a company’s mission, purpose, goals, creation of the right customer culture, and establishment of an integrated organization play a significant role.  As these elements are defined, measured, and assessed they will determine business performance measurement whether non-financial and financial.
Join me again in the last part of the series in a few weeks time….  
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Written by Dr. Mary Ritz:  International Trainer, Speaker, Author and Consultant

Launch of Risk Management group 9 programme

The morning of Monday, 18 April 2016 served to be an exciting occassion for individuals intent on embarking on a life-changing  journey of learning at The Da Vinci Institute. 

Enrolled for their BCom (Business Management) programme specifically applied to Risk Management employees, students were welcomed by Carin Stoltz-Urban (Registrar / Client Engagement Manager), Sharlene Vania (The cohorts dedicated Key Account Manager) and Orpa Roberts (The cohorts dedicated Administrator).

Emphasis was primarily given to varying aspects between a traditional student and a non-traditional student. A traditional student can be described as a full-time student  who attends classes daily and have little other responsibilities. Whereas a non-traditional student is often an adult learner that works full-time and has family commitments. 

The Mode 2 aspect of facilitation compliments the adult world of learning. Mode 2 is characterised by five features which include the incorporation of application into the workplace, trans-disciplinary and heterogeneous engagements, organisational diversity and enhanced social accountability.

The approach to problem solving is rather focussed on finding solutions through creative thinking. The making of decisions are made through a systems thinking perspective and from holistic thinking. Students are required to apply their minds to their workplace to mitigate risks, find solutions to real life challenges and add value in terms of return on investment.

We wish the cohort of Risk Management students great success as they venture on a life changing journey that serves to develop their own managerial leadership, that of their respective organisation and in addition, to society at large.

Showcasing Da Vinci’s Research

Dr Mary Ritz is the Owner and Founder of Almenta International. She holds a PhD in Business focussing on Customer Centricity, an MBA with a concentration in International Business and an undergraduate degree in Marketing.
RITZ, Mary
Customer Management: Creating a sense making framework for developing economies

The overriding goal of the study was to determine if the customer management phenomenon should be treated and managed differently in different economic environments to improve its probability of success. This was based on the viewpoint that most of the literature on customer centricity seemed to be based on the developed world’s ways of thinking and doing, and the assumptions given were that these (often) western originated frameworks, would work in any socio-economic environment. However, if, as part of the study, the above was proven not to be true, the researcher indicated her need to develop such a framework for developing socio-economic contexts. The proposed framework consists of attributes that were considered best and most relevant for the developing world. Therefore, the main objective of the study was to address the phenomenon from a socio-economic perspective in the hope of offering new knowledge that can possibly assist people in the workplace to solve some of the challenges experienced in the customer management domain. The researcher’s underlying epistemological perspective is influenced by systems thinking. The relationship to the Cynefin Framework (Snowden and Kurtz, 2006), which makes reference to different market domains, was also referenced and adopted for the study. The researcher identified the customer centricity phenomenon as relevant to the Complex and Chaotic domains where context is unordered , which means there is no direct or obvious relationships between cause and effect, and problem-solving in these domains is accomplished by determining emerging patterns. Lastly, because the study was based on a particular socio-economic context, the researcher found it appropriate to base some of the thinking on Lessem’s (2001) principles of the “Four Worlds”. In addition, a literature review was carried out that confirmed the complexity of the matter under review by looking at some constructs of customer management (customer service, customer experience and customer relationship management). It was established how these components were complex in their own right. From the same literature review, certain aspects of the customer management phenomenon were identified, e.g. business performance and culture. A Grounded Theory methodology was followed utilizing a variety of data sources. The proposed customer-centric framework is based on the findings derived from a developing context, which in turn has been compared to a framework that was derived from the 5 customer management frameworks utilized for purposes of this research.

Academic supervisor: Prof B Anderson 


Dr Vulumuzi Bhebhe is the Executive Chairman of UI Group, a consultancy firm specialising in corporate advisory. He holds a PhD in the Management of Technology and Innovation, an MBA with a concentration in Marketing Research as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management.

BHEBHE, Vulumuzi

Total early stage development of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs): Creating a sustainability framework for emerging economies

The study investigated the total early stage development of SMMEs in emerging markets, and the tributary objective of this thesis is to create a sustainability framework. The study’s pinnacle focus was on five constructs (Internal Market Capacity; Relationship Marketing Capacity; Innovative Capacity; Customer Satisfaction and Business Performance) that affected sustainability and performance of start-ups and SMMEs in emerging markets. These business performance constructs are comprised of one predictor variable (Internal Marketing), three mediator variables (Relationship Marketing, Customer Satisfaction and Innovative Capacity) and one outcome variable (Business Performance). The research results reveal that all the business constructs (Internal Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Innovative Capacity and Customer Satisfaction) are antecedents of business performance. However, it was also observed that paramount and central to these constructs for business performance is Customer Satisfaction. The analysis revealed that Internal Marketing positively influences the mediators and outcome variable in a significant way. Academic discernments drawn and pragmatic implications provided are based on the thesis’ findings.

Academic supervisor: Prof R Chinomona;
Field supervisor: Dr M Ncube 
Dr Rashid Abrahams is Senior Manager at Network Field Services: data and advanced services at Telkom SA since the beginning of 2009. He is currently responsible for assurance/fulfillment/projects and first line maintenance for Data and Advanced Services. He started his career in Telkom in 1984 and progressed through the ranks as Manager up to Senior manager – Operations.


A framework for broadband fulfilment and assurance in the telecommunications environment: A South African case study
Telkom SA faces a situation in which slow revenue growth is experienced primarily due to the decline in telecommunications traffic proceeds, while expenditure is escalating. The combined results of Telkom SA’s inability to rapidly respond to changing market conditions, shifting customer requirements and the decline in fixed-line business have affected profitability. For Telkom SA to succeed and stay relevant it should re-invent itself by continuously transforming from within a traditional telecommunications services provider paradigm by employing innovative services, state-of-theart technology and skilled people. The focus of the research was to benchmark the current network technology against international Next Generation Networks (NGN), and explore the present skills capacity and transformation of Telkom SA’s Fulfilment and Assurance services. It was to determine capabilities and capacities that could expand Telkom SA’s ICT services, and significantly reduce its fault and repeat report rates. Research findings and recommendations are presented in a framework for implementation of essential strategic imperatives. Timeous deployment of strategies could lead to building an invincible network, resulting in the successful turn-around of the current Broadband Fulfilment and Assurance service offering, and significantly enhancing Telkom SA’s broadband customer experience.

Academic supervisor: Dr MG De Kock;
Field supervisor: Mr DC Phiri

Dr Musa Stefane Furumele is the Chief Executive of Gandlati Strategic Equity (Pty) Ltd. He is also a fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering.

FURUMELE, Musa Stefane

Front-end governance of large water infrastructure investments within developing economies: A South African perspective

The study aimed to offer insights into how front-end governance could be improved in pursuit of better project outcomes. It follows a qualitative exploratory research approach and embraces critical realism to emphasise the interface between the natural and social sciences. The study focused on multiple-case designs concerning large water infrastructure projects in their real settings. Sources of evidence include interviews and case-related documents. Research findings indicate that six salient elements of front-end governance influence the outcomes of large water infrastructure investments: 1) Large water infrastructure investments should be approached in a cross-cutting manner and planned to be multi-purpose and address broader societal challenges as access to water will remain the rallying point for social progress, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation. 2) Clear and well-understood project-specific objectives, responsive to the needs and priorities of critical stakeholders contribute to better outcomes. 3) Strategic depth and flexibility, represented by consideration of major risks and iterative screening of project concepts within an interactive and adaptive decision-making process are important in securing a robust investment case and in turn, the accrual of favourable results. 4) While continual leadership is important in turbulent environments, strategic and timeous intervention is vital in salvaging those projects that seem destined to fail. 5) Empowerment and co-production of project outcomes with critical stakeholder, as opposed to mere consultation of stakeholders leads to better results. 6) While a supportive policy and regulatory framework together with enabling political, social and economic factors, is crucial, precise definition of roles and responsibilities of key parties and sensitivity to historical contexts is important. It is important that critical stakeholders are empowered and equipped to engage meaningfully during the conception of the investments. Four important interventions are proposed: focusing political leadership on critical points of strategic intervention; formulating multi-dimensional project definitions to secure robust investment cases; building the capacity of stakeholder groups; and the establishment of quality assurance protocols overseeing the front-end phase.

Academic supervisor: Dr MG De Kock;
Field supervisor: Dr O Busari


Jennitha Chinniah

Ph.D. Management of Technology and Innovation, MSc Information Systems
Positions Held:
Chief Information Officer
General Manager IT Operations
IT Executive
Director at International Consulting Practice
Chairman of School Governing Body
Lecturer at CEEF Africa
Skills, Expertise & Experience:
Jennitha is an ICT professional with over 24 years of experience with qualified successes in Advanced Programme Management; Enterprise Architecture and Strategy formulation and implementation.

She is recognised for her exceptional skills in advanced business & systems analysis as well as Business Intelligence & Management information systems. Her leadership traits and astute customer relation’s abilities with particularly strong people-related and communications abilities is an asset to the organisation. She has managed multi-million rand Technology and Capital projects including the setting up of project offices for large to medium sized organisations. 

CHINNIAH, Jennitha
Data privacy and the Energy Distribution Market: Revisiting implications of the Smart Grid Framework

The study explores best practise information security and privacy principles as a systemic solution to the issues presently experienced in the smart grid. The Delphi technique was utilised to collect information from an expert information security panel to construct a SAFE framework implying Supporting Service; Assurance; Functional requirements and Enterprise Security Strategy, Architecture and Governance. This culminated from data being interpreted and constructed with the intent to outline all of the critical security considerations already in place. The assurance is data privacy in the automated metering infrastructure (AMI) and more specifically in the home area network (HAN). The interview technique combined with the outcomes of the SAFE framework was tested against three utilities that are currently rolling out AMI in South Africa. The findings were then presented by benchmarking three case studies against the SAFE framework demonstrating that the SAFE framework can be implemented to provide an assurance to other utilities on national and international level.

Academic supervisor: Dr MG De Kock;

Field supervisor: Dr H Geldenhuys


Dr Marlo de Swardt

Background information
Dr de Swardt is a skilled senior information, communication, and technology manager, combining strong business acumen with extensive experience in Human-Resource Management, Administration and Facilities, Strategic planning and execution, and Supply-chain Management.
He started his career in IT operations and progressed to Systems Development, Project Management, Budget Planning, Analysis, Design, Architecture, Consulting, Strategy, and General Management. Beyond his overall grounding business acumen and doctorate (PhD) in Technology and Innovation Management, he has built a personal style and brand upon his skills, experiences and accomplishments to be a strategic adviser on how to formulate, implement and execute a strategic plan.
His qualifications includes a PhD and MSc in Technology and Innovation from The Da Vinci Institute of Technology Management and a B-Tech, Information Technology from UNISA.
Strategy formulation, performance implementation and performance execution: Developing an integrated framework to enhance organizational performance.
The researcher conducted a quantitative study applying a positivist research paradigm combining the philosophy of ontology, epistemology and axiology in order to understand the social phenomena resulting in the failure of PM system in organisations. The rationale for the study was based on the global evidence of high failure rate of strategic formulation process where it is noted that almost 70 % of strategic plans are not implemented successfully.

A detail survey was undertaken across a spectrum of organisations. Through the use of a cross correlational check between research findings and a comparison with the findings in the literature it was concluded that key to failure is the disjuncture between the strategic plan and the PM system. The study was culminated with the development of an integrated framework which provides the key linkages between a well-developed strategic plan and an executable PM system. 


                                                          Dr Rean du Plessis

Rean holds a doctorate in the Management of Innovation and Technology and sees himself as an African with a passion to “unleash Africa’s wealth through leadership”. He has been involved in executive coaching, strategic leadership alignment and group interventions for two decades; and in leadership development, through his focus on leading leaders and in his career as an Industrial Psychologist for almost three decades. During his doctoral research with industry leaders in South Africa he came to the conclusion that successful leaders at the height of their careers are looking for cognitive stimulation in the form of complex assignments and the need to make a meaningful a contribution in the lives of others.
His focus in coaching is on strategy, enhancing business performance, influencing effectively at executive and board levels, career transition and increased self-insight and self-belief, understanding of own potential and focus. Rean believes strongly that people will deliver on deeply held beliefs and intentions. Coaching is a way to direct and support these intentions in order to achieve powerful business outcomes.
Rean’s philosophy and coaching approach is holistic and systemic and this has resonated with the many leaders he has coached during times of pressure over the last sixteen years.
Rean is currently a Director of Change Partners. He has led his own company which specialises in leadership assessment and development, recruitment/executive search and performance improvement interventions since 1999. During the 10 years he worked at Anglo American his focus included leadership assessment and development.
In addition, he has experience in having worked in the public sector for 6 years in the Department of Correctional Services.

QUALIFICATIONS• PhD in Management of Innovation and Technology with his thesis on the Spiritual Self of the Corporate Leader.
• Masters in Industrial and Personnel Psychology.
• Post-graduate certificate in Executive Coaching from Middlesex University UK.
• Du Pont’s Coaching Training for Sustainability in Switzerland.


The spiritual self of the corporate leader


The researcher initiates this study from a deep existential question: How does the transpersonal impact on corporate leadership within the context of deep ecology? The researcher convincingly follows Geisler and Geisler (2014) in separating spirituality from religion in defining spirituality as the ontological essence of the self, but from a functional stance, as ‘a yearning for guidance and connection with God’. The term God is understood simply as a cause greater than self. This anthropologically seated need is necessitated by the overwhelming issues that confront the corporate leader today. The researcher argues that the current complexities of life and management per se require a normative system that transcends human abilities. In this regard the content fully reflects the title of the script and the research focus makes a promising contribution to the development of a more holistic understanding of corporate leadership. The researcher found a qualitative approach, with reference to grounded theory, the best methodological angle to yield inductive research findings. In doing so the outcome is co-determined by corporate leaders with the potential of funding new theories that may serve as indicators for the future. Epistemological issues, ethical norms and personal values and world views are all synthesized into a coherent whole that follows a logical development of the train of thought. Due consideration is given to applicable matters one would expect to be covered by the study such as spirituality and God and the potential role of religion.

Academic supervisor: Prof B Anderson;
Field supervisor: Prof JJL Coetzee

Dr Elliot Kasu

Dr Elliot Kasu is a Zimbabwean, a holder of a PhD in Management of Technology and Innovation from the Da Vinci Institute of Technology and Innovation of South Africa, a Master of business Administration degree from Zimbabwe Open University, a graduate and associate member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Zimbabwe (CIS). He also holds a Diploma in Logistics Management from Pakistan School of Logistics. He is a competent academic, intellectual, researcher, consultant and expert in integral research, quantitative and qualitative research, facilitation, training, monitoring, evaluation, implementation, strategic development, innovative entrepreneurship development and financial management.
He possesses several years of public service and corporate experience at strategic level and has a deep knowledge in indigenous knowledge systems grounded in Africa. He has held several appointments up to director level in Zimbabwe’s ministry of defence, company secretary and finance manager for the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, Managing Director of Kasimboti Trading P/L, Finance and Administration Director of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and currently is one of the founders of Integral Social & Enterprise Research Centre (ISERC) where he is employed as a senior researcher, finance & corporate services director. As such, he is a creative and innovative strategist, consultant, researcher, public accountant, chartered secretary and team player with vast experience in strategic planning, leadership, human resources management, financial management, administration, logistics and corporate secretarial practice.  

Title: Ubuntupreneurship within rural communities: Creating community colleges for a developing economy

Abstract: The study utilised the four world rhythm, the 4Cs (Lessem and Schieffer, 2014) and the CARE (Lessem and Schieffer, 2009) pattern in collaboration with the Tangwena people. The ideas of ‘mushandirapamwe’ or collective wealth generation are indeed relevant for purposes of this thesis. The focus on ‘Zunde ra Mambo’ is a relevant security arrangement and indeed an effective way towards indigenous volunteering. The study has also indicated that the use of ‘permaculture’ could assist communities to create sustainable habitats by following nature’s patterns. The study has demonstrated a sincere focus towards ensuring meaningful life for the Tangwena community. The use of African Ubuntu values as tool of solidarity and interdependence seem to provide a solid foundation of African economic redemption, which in turn could lead to effective African economic humanism. The model ‘towards co-creation in Zimbabwe’ is well argued and structured. The story telling aspect of the research is informative which has truly reflected traditional values while African humanism has been well articulated throughout the thesis. The indigenous exogenous community-based learning and innovation research facility within the community seems to contribute towards the institutionalisation of the community college. The researcher followed the appropriate southern path and effectively demonstrated a good practice of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) aimed at community activation in alignment with the needs of the Tangwena people. The ‘ubuntuneurial spirit of agriculture’ ideology is sound, and, indeed an effective approach to solving communal poverty issues, which is the strength in the study.

Academic supervisor: Dr A Schieffer;

Field supervisor: Dr PC Muchineripi