Monthly Archives: June 2017

Excellence is a moving target: The story of COLONYHQ


Winner of the Department of Science and Technology Director General Award for Overall Excellence
Category for small enterprises

Excellence is a moving target

The problem with excellence is how elusive it is. No sooner have you arrived at a point of excellence, by today’s standards, than it’s moved on again. Partly fuelled by swift technology advances and partly by changing markets, excellence is a moving target that’s becoming harder to pin down.

“In the campaign business, success has typically been measured quantitatively – by the number of consumers reached or competition entries received. Nowadays, the measure of campaign performance is less quantitative. Yes, you still need the numbers but what’s important is the performance of the client’s brand, and especially whether or not a campaign helps it to acquire new customers along the way,” says Claira Mallett, head of Client Partnerships at COLONYHQ.

This shifting view of excellence is keeping COLONY on its toes, calling for unprecedented agility in how it applies technology, information and skills and, above all, responds to clients’ needs.

“We are completely focused on the client,” says Mallett, explaining that COLONYHQ underwent a dramatic reorganisation in 2016, right down to job descriptions, to ensure optimal customer centricity. “The beauty of the way we work is that our inspiration comes from our clients, who are many and varied. We are constantly inspired by their need to reach their customers, and totally focused on maximising the relationship with their customers.”

COLONY’s client campaigns aren’t just about pushing messages out to customers through games, competitions, message boards, polls, social experiments and the like, but also about bringing back as much rich data on them and their preferences as possible. “We use the insights we bring back to build better campaigns that engage the right people at the right time – and the rich spot for engaging isn’t necessarily pay day.”

Every campaign generates huge volumes of customer data, which COLONY crunches into bite-sized, digestible chunks for its clients, using its core campaigns platform and proprietary software. “We break big data down into little data that our clients can use to know more about the customers they already have and acquire new customers too.”

COLONY works relentlessly at improving the capacity and functionality of its technology, which has evolved from a message board to an advanced analytics tool that has already analysed 25 million messages and processed R50 million worth of prizes. Its most recent breakthrough is COLONYLive, a version of its core campaign platform developed specifically for the broadcast industry, with the broadcast industry.

“We worked side by side with our radio customers to build this product, which is so world-class that we have already initiated launching into the United States,” Mallett says.

In the campaigns space at least, the bar has been raised, the ante upped and excellence redefined – for now.  No doubt the target will soon be moving again.

Great expectations: how to make them match

Accsys (Pty) Ltd
Winner of the Da Vinci Award for Excellence in the Management of People
Category for medium enterprises

Great expectations: how to make them match

One of the greatest causes of friction in human relationships is mismatched expectations. At work, Person A is convinced he has performed brilliantly and deserves a raise. Person B is adamant that Person A has fallen short. Things could become uncomfortable at the annual performance review.
This scenario would probably not play out at Accsys, a software company within the Telkom Business Connexion group that specialises in payroll and other people management solutions. The reason is that it’s constantly checking on the expectations of employees to see if they match its own.
“In their first month, people feel very uncertain and we do everything we can to try and make their lives easier, as well as our own,” says Teryl Schroenn, chief executive officer.

So, in every new employee’s first week, a one-on-one discussion is held to share expectations. A second such discussion follows at the end of the first month, then at the end of the second and third months, and then twice a year for the rest of the person’s career with Accsys.
“We talk about their career, future and what they think of their salary, and try to align expectations,” Schroenn says. “They also get to rate the company on our core values, such as standing up for what we believe in, and how we perform against their expectations. Retention has improved since we introduced this model.”

Keeping young people interested

Effective retention strategies are crucial in business today, not least because young, highly skilled people plan their careers more carefully than older generations did. “They have an agenda. What we might see as job hopping, they might see as career planning,” says Schroenn.

While Accsys can’t always compete with the salaries and benefits that major corporates are prepared to pay to attract and keep talent, it has other drawcards, including a culture that genuinely encourages staff to question, participate, contribute and learn.

“We talk about things like covert racism and sexual harassment, and try to create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing and don’t have a negative impact on their colleagues,” says Cathie Webb, chief operating officer. “There isn’t a lot of negative energy in the company. Of course we do have some – people have so many stresses in their lives – but the entropy level is one of the lowest in the group, as measured in the Business Connexion survey.”

Everyone in the company (it employs about 100 people) attends the monthly staff meeting and every staff member has breakfast with Schroenn, as the CEO, at least once a year.

Training and skills development opportunities abound. Two training sessions are held each month, one for senior management and one for middle management, and these are now also being rolled out to the full staff complement, covering topics such as leadership, business ethics, the social media and budgeting for home and work.

Payroll is like Cinderella

Not content with developing its own employees, the company is also helping to educate new generations of payroll-savvy South Africans. In fact, it is one of the few providers of payroll qualifications in the country.

“Payroll seems to be the Cinderella of business, which is a great pity,” says Webb. “Payroll departments have a lot of intelligence that can feed into running the business more efficiently. On the other hand, payroll can be a big risk if there are errors and a poor understanding of the statutory rules.”

To help fill the qualifications vacuum, Accsys has for the past eight years been running a payroll internship programme, annually recruiting eight to 10 school-leavers to spend two years learning the ins and outs of payroll. Many of the learners come from two Johannesburg high schools, Wendywood High and Alexander High, and after their learnerships either stay on at Accsys or find jobs with its clients.

Accsys also offers a diploma in payroll, and in March 2016 began partnering with the Da Vinci Institute in offering an online BCom degree in payroll administration. As far as Webb and Schroenn can ascertain, this degree is the only one of its kind.

Cinderella may yet take her rightful place at the business table.

Accenture and partners close entries for the Innovation Index 2017

JOHANNESBURG; May. 31, 2017 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and partners, Transunion and The Da Vinci Institute, have officially closed entries for the annual Innovation Index 2017 and an expert panel of adjudicators are evaluating the submissions. The index is themed “Ignite Ingenuity”.

The Accenture Innovation Index measures, recognises and rewards innovation and systems of innovation in organisations of all sizes in the South African public and private sectors every year. The Index is designed to provide a national benchmark for innovation, providing businesses and policymakers with an authoritative and objective snapshot of the state of innovation within their organisations and in South Africa.

Rory Moore, Innovation Lead at Accenture says that the innovative ideas coming from thousands of entrants have been outstanding. “There is no doubt that our independent adjudicators have a tough mission ahead as the calibre of submissions keeps improving year-on-year. This is exactly what we expected to see this year – some remarkable companies going all out to showcase their level of innovation and begin their all-important journey to becoming true innovation leaders.”

Last year’s Innovation Index highlighted that the pace at which South Africa is innovating needs to accelerate if the country hopes to continue to compete in the 21st century. The survey painted a worrying picture of 57 percent of companies scoring less than 52 points out of a possible 100 – they fall into the “innovation laggard” category. Only 29 percent could be categorised as innovation leaders. This year’s results will be announced at the Accenture Innovation Conference 2017 in October.

The conference is becoming one of the highlights of the business calendar, where extremely useful insights on the levels of innovation in the country are highlighted – including areas of improvement – but also where the best companies can be rewarded for leading in the new and being true innovation champions.

“We’re excited to see the quality of entries for this year’s conference, once again indicative of the ingenuity of South Africans to tackle important issues facing business and society,” comments Lee Naik, CEO TransUnion Africa.  “We continue to be inspired by the creativity and opportunities this event showcases, and look forward to recognising the winners in October.”

“The Accenture Innovation Index has indeed become a key player within the South African business community, allowing innovators across different industries to showcase their contributions towards the development of new and improved business related products and processes,” says Professor Bennie Anderson, CEO of The Da Vinci Institute. “We are looking forward in meeting the winners at the conference in October.”

The partnership with The Da Vinci Institute and TransUnion, helps Accenture to apply best practice research approaches to provide a confidential customised innovation diagnostic report that identifies each participant’s innovation strengths and weaknesses; benchmarks their innovation within their industries; and presents strategies that may help them gain competitive advantage. The Index also allows participants to submit concepts for consideration in the Innovation Conference showcase.

About Accenture
Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 401,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at
About The Da Vinci Institute
The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management is a School of Managerial Leadership contributing towards socio-economic development and transformation. The Institute’s purpose is to cultivate managerial leaders through the core principles of business driven action learning by offering students a personalised journey of selfdiscovery and co-creation. The Institute offers Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor, Masters, and Doctorate programmes in the Management of Technology, Innovation, People, Systems (TIPS™) and Business Management. The Institute is registered as a Private Higher Education Institution under the Higher Education Act 1997, registration no. 2004/ HE07/003. The Institute’s qualifications are accredited by the Council on Higher Education and recorded with the South African Qualifications Authority. Visit us at:
About TransUnion
Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion (NYSE: TRU), we realise that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.
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 Jonathan Mahapa
+ 27 11 208 3947