Category Archives: innovation

How to Create an Innovation Culture that Lasts

By Henra Mayer
Many organisations kick-off an innovation programme with innovation training or brainstorming sessions. Seeing that it is easier to execute, this can be a good way to engage the organisation around innovation intent. A good programme that delivers fresh ideas utilise the power of collaboration to create repeatable differentiated value in the market and one can appreciate that creative brainstorming alone is not going to deliver that type of return. Training might equip innovation teams better for the task at hand, but done in isolation it will not build a sustainable culture of innovation.
The TT100 awards recognises that the management of people includes the human technology interface.  It embraces both the employee and the end user.  It is about the processes that organisations deploy in the development of their human capital, and how they retain and re-skill existing employees, how they incentivise their people and how they plan for succession to ensure organisational longevity. 
Culture is both about people management and technological enablement. Building innovation DNA is painstakingly hard work. It focuses on output and reinforcement of behaviours. Experience often teaches hard lessons like small steps at a time, avoidance of the big bang approach and learning as you go, but some of the most effective approaches to generating a sustainable innovation culture lies in the following, often overlooked activities.

Explaining the what and why

Many organisations have not taken the time to properly and eloquently define what innovation means in their organisations. It is about context and creating a common language that is understood and internalised by all in the organisation. How else will you get people to understand why it is necessary to participate in an innovation programme? Defining what innovation means for your organisation is not only a necessary first step, it is imperative if you want to create strategic alignment and lay the foundation for ultimate innovation success.    

Leadership buy-in

Without visible leadership support and clear communication on the imperative of innovation for the organisation, any effort to transform the culture will be dead in the water. Leadership needs to stand up and be counted, they need to fly the flag high. What type of behaviour is the organisation supporting, punishing or rewarding? Leadership needs to lead innovation, and this applies to all managerial levels. Success very often depends on middle management – who has the responsibility to ensure implementation of the corporate strategy. If middle management is not championing innovation, they risk becoming one of the greatest barriers to innovation in the organisation. Get them on board early with clear objectives and tightly aligned goals, which highlights the next point.

Have a game plan

The development of an innovation strategy is one of the first steps an organisation must take on the road to success. It defines your game plan, sets the rules (will we focus on incremental or radical innovation) what is the investment budget and who is responsible for tracking outcomes? It must outline the organisation’s overall strategic business goals, and show how innovation can be applied to achieve it. A well-defined innovation strategy will focus activities, manage outcomes, fund opportunities, track success and impact culture.

Provide structure and guidance

Innovation needs a home. What do people do with their ideas? The organisation needs an effective, transparent process to support innovation so that ideas can get from people’s heads to implemented value. What type of ideas are you looking for, how will you filter and decide on the best ones, how often will you run innovation challenges and campaigns, how will these align to your strategic objectives? Employees need to know the answers to these questions and have the information required to help them to participate and engage effectively.

Communicate and engage

You need to communicate about the what, why, where, when and how of innovation constantly. If the message is not clear and compelling, staff will not engage and your programme will drown in a  flood of more imminent pressures. This makes innovation reward part of the discussion. Rewarding people for innovation effort is a very important activity. Reward needs to be well thought through and need to encourage the type of behaviour you want people to display.

Celebrate and demonstrate

There will always be nay-sayers, non-believers or stubborn opposers of the new in an organisation. It is important to recognise who these people are and to find ways to get them to work with you. Not everyone will be an avid innovation champion or diligent contributor to the innovation programme,  but a diverse talent pool increases the quality of contributions and the chances of finding something truly impactful. Write up case studies, showcase successes and demonstrate results. It will help you spread the word while showcasing the outcome of your efforts. There is nothing as convincing as real-world results to help you build the business case for innovation.


Connect and Co-create


The days of innovation is seen as a top-secret internal activity is long gone. Isolated innovation effort often misses the mark or lacks the depth that comes from stakeholder engagement and an integration of different points of view. Although many organisations start with internal innovation campaigns to learn the ropes, it is important to consider integrating an outside perspective into the creation of your innovation pipeline. External stakeholders that include customers, suppliers, academia or other experts in industry can add tremendous value to your own effort and help you find an edge far beyond what you would have been able to do on your own. Organisations wining at innovation have embraced formal and informal mechanisms of stakeholder engagement and collaboration, to the benefit of the organisation. 
It is a truly extraordinary time for innovation. Changing business landscapes, disruptive and unconventional market forces and the reality of a true global village presents both opportunity and threat. It will be those organisations that flex their innovation muscle and strengthen collaborative networks that will lead the future.  It is no longer about whether you should invest in building an innovation capability as an organisation, it is about how you are going to win at it.


For more information on the TT100 Business Awards please click here or contact Da Vinci by emailing To talk innovation please contact Innocentrix by emailing or by visiting 

Top Organisations Manage for Growth

Top Organisations Manage for Growth
By Henra Mayer
The world is changing quicker than you can say, Flash Gordon, we talk about Moore’s Law, the role of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) Big Data, Digitisation, Disruptive Business Modelling and then throw into the mix other specifics like FinTech, the potential of the Blockchain and the sharing economy, to name but a few. It’s a jungle out there. Managing the ambidextrous organisation and balancing the demands of the business of today with the business of tomorrow is a skill. Strategic thinking needs to be elevated to the next level, aligned and resourced to focus on driving innovation results. This is a leadership responsibility and in order to benefit fully from the evolving central role of innovation, management must become more responsible for innovation output, and put in place tactical strategies to give it legs. If strategic intent for innovation is not visible, it will go nowhere and innovation results will continue to be just as undetectable. [1]
CEO’s have undeniably turned to innovation in order to address the organisational changes necessary to grow in the future, yet they also feel their organisations are really bad at it. The reason we bother with innovation in the first place is to change the status quo, yet innovation programmes fail more often than they succeed.

Why innovation programmes fail

The process to get ideas to market will differ from organisation to organisation but most challenges in this regard are universal. Think lack of resources, not sufficient budget, inappropriate strategic attention or not enough time to get to innovation as well.
Many organisations talk about innovation with authority, but when it comes to considering a well-defined approach that enables innovation as a strategic lever, talk is often cheap. Getting innovation right requires a demystification of the concept and a seriousness about getting to market, and none of this will happen without doing the groundwork first. Innovation capability, in essence, includes a consideration of the following enablers:
  • Leadership and management – to ensure intent, focus and strategic enablement
  • Organisational structuring– where the organisation puts in place the required processes and structures to support innovation
  • Culture building – a focus on people and building of cultural DNA to make it happen in a sustainable manner
  • Implementation and measurement – getting ideas implemented and tracking returns
  • Effective collaboration – effectively supporting collaboration efforts in various stages of the innovation lifecycle, both internal and external to the organisation


When any of the above activities gets left behind, innovation is stunted and returns are left to chance. But there is more that can be done to increase innovation’s survival rate over the long run.

 Process and Technology

Tools can help you get to implementation faster
Technology and the power it represents opens a new world of potential all around. It is often difficult to navigate this ever-changing landscape but it is necessary to do so with an open mind. Today’s leaders have a myriad of options. Decision-making must consider fit-for-purpose tools in support of strategic objectives, the streamlining of processes and ever-changing requirements that requires flexibility. The focus is on enablement by means of strengthening organisational technological capability and driving results. Technology enables efficient processes and for innovation to flourish a finely tuned, transparent innovation process is necessary. Consider idea flow, internal as well as external participation, engagement, gamification, teams and the issue of effective collaboration.


The competitive advantage is effective teams that bring projects to market.
Ideas are just that. Innovation success will depend on your ability to harness the power of people to bring those ideas to market in a feasible way. Organisations good at innovation knows that it must come from various sources, that it depends on diverse teams, internal as well as external to the organisation. They understand that this will lead to an outcome where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Innovation happens at the periphery, thinking in isolation will not yield the same results.  
Although the world of business constantly talks about innovation and disruption – the challenge of doing this successfully is often not linked to a shortage of ideas. It is about getting the good ideas to market and doing so consistently.

Looking back to look forward

It is important for organisations to look back at the past, in order to learn from mistakes and capitalise on learnings. In order to remain relevant and stay ahead of the curve, it is also essential to understand what needs to be done today in order to prepare for tomorrow. No one has a crystal ball to predict what will happen next but future foresight is essential for organisations in the fight for relevance. Many companies, once having become dominant in their industries, lost their competitive edge and their desire and belief in the need to innovate. Think Blockbusters and Blackberry, beloved giants of industry that fell quickly and unceremoniously.


Innovation success will require a focus on doing the right things, but will also ask the organisation to consciously learn and assess. What are your core capabilities, do they still serve you and what else do you need to learn? It is important to understand the competitive forces in your environment and the trends in terms of new and emerging business models required to deal with it. Despite the time and energy required for the day-to-day operations of the business, organisations must develop the commitment and discipline to look to the future to recognize trends and ensure that they continually react and innovate.
True leaders have the ability to inspire people to great achievement. They keep their fingers on the pulse of progress and diligently lead their organisations towards the pinnacle of innovation excellence.



[1] Adapted from blogpost “Why the implementation of ideas remain a corporate struggle” – H Mayer

Top Innovators Set Alight Da Vinci’s TT100 Business Innovation Awards

Johannesburg, 15 November 2017

Top innovators have received high praises from the Minister of Science and Technology Mrs Naledi Pandor at the 2017 Da Vinci TT100 Business Innovation Awards, showcasing how South Africa is building an inclusive innovation system through growing support for grassroots innovators and developing local innovation.

In total, 28 winners were presented by Minister Pandor with trophies at a gala dinner held at the Johannesburg Country Club on Wednesday, 15 November 2017, which was attended by business innovators, industry captains, government officials, researchers, and academics.

Minister Pandor, who gave the keynote address, expressed her admiration for the quality of business innovation entries in this year’s competition, an achievement she has described as encouraging and in line with the National Development Plan’s (NDP) objective of turning South Africa into a high-growth, employment generating, knowledge-based economy.

Minister Pandor said the long-standing alliance that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has maintained with the TT100 awards programme was central to the ongoing efforts to strengthen public-private partnerships in support of South African technology-based businesses.

“Such partnerships not only enable awareness creation of business technology development initiatives and opportunities but also profile the innovation prowess of SA tech companies to local and international markets.”

“This is in line with the NDP’s recognition of the importance of innovation as laying the foundations for more intensive improvements in business productivity and a more intensive national pursuit of the SA knowledge-based economy,” said Minister Pandor.

The 2017 TT100 awards were held under the auspices of The Da Vinci Institute School of Managerial Leadership, which has partnered with the DST, MTN, and Eskom to make the TT100 innovation competition possible.

The TT100 awards programme has been running since 1991 and its aim is to promote the culture of innovation amongst large, medium, and small businesses.

“The objective of the TT100 awards is to promote the importance of developing an innovative management ecosystem, which can help boost innovation outputs in our companies in a manner that impacts positively on socio-economic development and the bottom lines of our companies, whether small, medium or big,” said Professor Bennie Anderson, CEO of The Da Vinci Institute School of Managerial Leadership.
There were 379 entries in the following 6 categories: management of technology; management of innovation; management of people; management of systems; sustainability; and innovation concepts.

A total of 91 category finalists were selected following a rigorous face-to-face adjudication process, which culminated in a total of 28 category winners being selected as the top-performing innovators in 2017.

Four industry winners representing emerging, medium, small, and large enterprises were selected, who respectively received the DST Director-General Award and Minister Award for Overall Excellence.

“This year, we have added the Innovation Concepts category to assist in raising the profiles of innovators who have outstanding concepts, but don’t have the funding to commercialise their concepts.”

“With the addition of this category to the TT100 awards programme, we are hoping to connect the innovators to venture capitalists and other potential funders to enable them to commercialise their concepts and take these promising ventures to the market,” said Professor Anderson.

The 2017 TT100 awards also received a resounding support from Kammy Young, Innovation COE Manager at Eskom, who concurs that the programme will go a long way towards driving socio-economic development in South Africa.

“Innovation is one of Eskom’s values. We strive to embrace new processes and technology to improve business efficiencies, while investing in science, engineering, technology and innovation in the country, with the aim to grow the economy in support of socio-economic development,” said Young.

The TT100 programme provides enormous benefits to winners and finalists. TT100 participants receive intensive, customised feedback on how they manage technology, innovation, people and systems, enabling them to improve the way they operate their organisations.

Winners and finalists receive the additional benefit of becoming part of the TT100 community and being invited to participate in TT100 events, including business forums held jointly with government and partners involved in promoting business innovation, particularly the DST.
About the Da Vinci TT100 Business Innovation Awards Programme
The Da Vinci TT100 Business Innovation Awards Programme is South Africa’s foremost business Awards programme. TT100 has been recognising innovation and technological prowess in South African companies for more than 25 years. In going forward, it is focused on identifying true managerial leaders who through innovation, tenacity and a belief in people, have been able to take their organisations to new levels of competitiveness.

The programme seeks to identify role models within the management of innovation and technology domains who have demonstrated their excellence in co-creating new workplace realities.
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Alfa Destiny Communications

Innovation Systems – Making Sense of the Noise

Innovation Systems – Making Sense of the Noise

Technology is recognised as an enabler of innovation and growth. Having a software tool, specifically the right software tool, can greatly accelerate your innovation results by creating an easily accessible and self-sustaining platform for ideation and innovation management. Over recent years, however, the innovation technology systems market exploded and an influx of players are contributing to an ever increasing maze of offerings with functionality that features internal and external collaboration capability, enterprise communication tools and in some instances the integration of various ecosystems for co-creation.

The result is an increasingly growing and crowded landscape of innovation management tools that are becoming more and more difficult to navigate – a trend that is expected to continue as new and existing offerings incorporate more radical technologies such as artificial intelligence and crypto currencies.

The current innovation technology market is estimated at over $200 million and boasts up to 250 vendors (and counting), almost doubling its size in the last two and a half years. In a fragmented innovation system market differentiation is not easy to come by. This does not come as good news for increasingly frustrated customers trying to make sense of it all. The very reason the innovation system vendors make a case for their software (to help organisations innovate and differentiate) might become a paradox in itself that begs the same question from them – how are innovation technology vendors creating new value and differentiation in an increasingly dynamic market?

At Innocentrix we understand this problem as we work with both vendors and clients to make innovation intentional, repeatable and supportive of next level growth. One solution will not universally fit all needs. Organisations need to understand the functionality on offer, how it fits the organisation’s own requirements, the financial and business models available as well as how this aligns with current innovation maturity levels and future goals.

Where to start is not always easy to figure out. The aim of this article is to offer a practical point of departure to assist organisations to navigate this landscape better.

But we can Build?

Customers increasingly look for a voice in the development of a solution that best meets their needs and prefers “exceptional service” as opposed to traditionally offered technology services. This might be one of the reasons investigating in-house development is often one of the first activities undertaken by organisations when the need for an innovation management system has been identified. It is possible that certain organisations by the nature of what they do have the ability to develop in-house and it seems like an attractive option when one ponders the crowded innovation technology landscape mentioned above. Add to this foreign currency hurdles if you are considering best of breed international solutions that also naturally comes with geographical and time zone challenges. The other reality is the speed of change, the impact of digital innovation and the requirement to have to run hard just to stand still, for what could be considered to be a non-core activity. Building you own is not impossible but with the rise of mobility and SaaS offerings, it is becoming increasingly challenging to do so well. 

Apart from functionality and development costs, organisations need to consider time available for development as well as servicing the organisation’s future innovation aspirations.

Other considerations should be:
Does your development team understand the organisation’s technical and innovation-critical requirements to enable it effectively? Can you map the minimal viable product (MVP) and do you have a good understanding of the future roadmap for the product? Moreover, does the development team really understand innovation and innovation software development?

Does your organisation have the required technical in-house experience to deliver a solution that is reasonably comparable to what is available off the shelf right now? Will you have continued access to these skills in the future and do they have the time available to bring the product to the organisation reasonably quickly?  

Innovation software vendors have been in the game for several years, they understand the dynamics of the market and are trusted by some of the world’s largest companies. This is their core competency, the reason they exist. It is in their interest to remain relevant and at the forefront of best practice in innovation management. Consider the internal stakeholder challenge as the organisation has to continually justify the investment and when it becomes a cost/price game the 3rd party vendor has the scope to offer compellingly lower prices.

Total cost of ownership
It is necessary to consider the complexity of total cost of ownership. The allure of building your own is attractive when one considers the ubiquity of the tools and seemingly low barriers of investment, but what costs are associated with personnel, ongoing maintenance, and continuous development. Opportunity costs if this is not a core competency for the organisation also need to be considered.

Building an in-house solution is possible but it is not straightforward. Initially and at low levels of innovation maturity in-house built systems can serve their purpose, but they soon fall by the wayside as maturity levels and the complexity of needed functionality increases. Another challenge is that in house development can become someone’s pet project. Organisations often fail to maintain their systems due to a change in roles and responsibilities over time, resulting in an eventual waste of not only money but time as well.

So how do you make sense of it all?

It is important to select a fit for purpose tool to fulfil the organisation’s objectives in support of its innovation business case, and to be able to adapt as the organisation matures on its innovation journey, or as needs become more varied.

Answering the question is, in essence, coming back to basics. Innovation is a business necessity but it is important to understand what you are trying to do and what good looks like for you. What are the organisation’s aspirations in this regard? Once that is defined, the road to find the best tool and operating model might be less complex.   

The Forrester Wave Report (2016)[1] used 26 criteria to evaluate a list of 15 current Innovation Management vendors and grouped them according to (1) current offering in the market (2) strategy of the vendor and (3) market presence. This resulted in a list of leaders and strong performers that according to the report represent strengths and trusted expertise in the field. But the picture is much more complex as the authors allude to in the introductory contextualisation.

Consider the following nuances.

Technology firms operate on very similar business models

Industry operating models chase brutal quarterly targets, a maximisation of licenses sold to customers and discounts for multi-year deals.  Painstakingly logged and managed, sales discussions will focus on these main aspirations which can be counter to client needs. Continuity with staff presents another challenge. Direct dealings with a vendor can become problematic as staff turnover impacts on relationships and the history with the vendor. Consistency becomes a moving target. One can argue that the technology sector is still in its formative years. Standards and interoperability across platforms are limited, with the story often being about the ‘best’ widget in town. Some have compelling features that are more influenced by the development of user interface design, but in many cases, there are much maturing to do. 

Many organisations want a voice to get what they view as valuable. They prefer more flexibility in their engagement models with vendors, as the needs of the organisation will change with a maturing innovation capability and as new learnings are integrated.  Which brings us to the next point.

An innovation system does not create an innovative culture

There are many great systems out there. None of them is going to guarantee that innovation work in your organisation. Your system will most likely become your cornerstone for success and enable innovation if managed well, but your people and doing the right things will be your secret sauce. You will need to consider many things like strategy, leadership, management, effective communication, impacting on engagement, measurement of outcomes, ROI and much more. It is important that you manage this from the beginning.

The need for partners

Many vendors have not eloquently addressed the need for partners. Strategic services are being offered by some whilst sharing their view of best practice for the use of their solution with customers is part of the package. But as put forward by Forrester’s report, few innovation management solution vendors can address wider business transformation requirements alone and need to work with outside consulting partners. Recent partnerships between KPMG and Idea Factory and IdeaScale and the content platform play to this point. It will, however, require vendors to actively build and contribute to the market in a collaborative manner. In too many instances the opposite is still true and vendors are found to dilute the innovation ecosystem instead of positively and actively contributing to it. The winners in the innovation systems market will most likely be those that recognise the exponential power and value of true collaboration to the benefit of all parties, especially their client’s. The most valuable partnerships will be those between a vendor and a partner offering expert strategic innovation expertise. Trust, ethics and respect still make good business sense and often provides an indication of vendor reliability. Choose your vendor well in this regard.

The market, maturity and attitude

In all of this, however, the client has a responsibility too. Do you have real strategic intent for innovation in the organisation?  In other words, do you have a budget in support of building an innovation capability and culture, and are you open to working with your suppliers to make it work? It might seem like an obvious question but it is an important one. Why invest in an innovation management system if you do not intend to enable it. Tripping over dollars to pick up pennies does not make sense, especially in this scenario. Your innovation team, if you have one, needs to be empowered for success. They cannot be expected to go at it alone. That is setting them up for failure from the beginning. And just like your vendors and your strategic partners, it is necessary to pull together a dynamic innovation team internally as well. This is no place for ego’s, immature jockeying for power or feeling intimidated by partners or team members for fear of being stood up for expertise. You will need to collaborate to be successful. Your external team are there in support of your success. If your innovation team cannot appreciate this your efforts will be compromised and your investment will most probably be wasted.  Take heed, this is a leadership responsibility.

So when starting out on the road in evaluating innovation management systems, think further than the obvious. Whichever way you dress it up, innovation is a complex coming together of multiple capabilities. Getting it right is hard and finding the right solution takes effort.

This article attempted to call out a number of the key tenets to consider when setting off on the journey.  Like in all relationships, it is often the little foxes in the vineyard that can destroy something good.

This article is written by Mrs Henra Mayer, CEO of Innocentrix and Da Vinci Head of Faculty related to the Management of Innovation.

About Innocentrix

Innocentrix is an ideas and innovation company. We help our clients to deliver the future. We improve existing offerings or bring to market new business models, projects, products or services. We help our clients to Create, Engage and Deliver. Find us at

[1] The Forrester Wave™: Innovation Management Solutions, Q2 2016 

15 times and still counting: why Verirad keeps coming back

If Chris Adams of Verirad had a wall big enough, every square centimetre would be covered in the certificates the company has won during the 15 years it’s been entering the TT100 Awards Programme. Interestingly, the prospect of winning isn’t the only thing that keeps Verirad coming back again and again.

“In fact, the years we haven’t won or been a finalist have probably resulted in the most benefits,” says Chris, director of Verirad, specialists in health fund risk management and radiology and pathology spend management.

Those times have typically been when the adjudicators’ feedback has prompted them to make changes in the way Verirad does business.

“Two or three years ago, my partner and I, Paul Horn, were at a TT100 adjudication session and one of the adjudicators asked us why we needed a central office. We asked ourselves, ‘Why do we need a central office?’ and then we gave it up,” Chris recalls. “Now nearly everyone works virtually.”

It was an excellent decision. Productivity and morale are high and, as long as they get the job done, Verirad’s employees, most of them qualified radiographers and medical technologists, have the kind of work-life balance that most people only dream of.

As for Chris, working virtually “saves me a whole lot of stomach lining” from not having to commute through Johannesburg’s congested traffic.

He recalls another year when the adjudicators remarked on an apparent shortcoming at Verirad – how “pale’ and “male” it seemed to be.

“So the next year, Paul and I came back with seven or eight of our colleagues,” says Chris. “We ushered them into the adjudication room and then we left. We were a Management of People finalist that year.”

The insights of the adjudicators – who spend about two hours with every TT100 entrant – are one compelling reason why Verirad has entered every TT100 competition since 2002 (and plans to do so again in 2016). Another is the opportunity to be benchmarked against companies in other industries.

“It’s all very well to know how you compare in your own sphere,” says Chris. “It’s even better to understand how you are doing when compared to companies in financial services, energy, technology, etc. For example, if you are a South African company, do you just want to compare yourself to other South African companies, or do you want to benchmark yourself in a much bigger market?’

If all this wasn’t incentive enough to keep on entering the TT100 programme, yet another reason is that the annual entry process forces Verirad to do some introspection. “Once a year, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What have we done differently to impress the adjudication panel?’ That’s a great way to keep the pressure on ourselves to carry on being successful.”

Footnote: Since entering TT100 for the first time in 2002, first as an emerging business and then as a small company, Verirad has featured regularly as a category winner or finalist. Its TT100 awards include the 2015 HP Award for Excellence in the Management of Innovation, 2011 IDC Award for Management of Systems, 2009 PWC Award for Excellence in Management of people, 2012 JSE Award for Sustainable Excellence and a 2015 Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance.


Da Vinci TT100 Business Innovation Awards Programme: Learning from the Winners

In an attempt to encourage your company to enter the 2016 Da Vinci TT100 Business Innovation Awards Programme we have gone through our records and put together a series of anecdotes which describe some of the initiatives which organisations have put in place to ensure their long-term sustainability.
As a preface to these anecdotes it is appropriate to reflect on the significant ruling emanating from the Constitutional Court in the case of Nkosana Makate vs Vodacom.  This case places in the spotlight a deep concern that within South African organisations there is limited appreciation of how best to manage their key resource, namely their people.  This observation must be seen in direct contrast to the common philosophical approach adopted by companies in Germany and other countries where it is commonplace that formal processes are in place to adequately recognise and reward employees who, through their own tenacity and ingenuity, have come up with new concepts which have enhanced the market share and profitability of their companies. The court ruling brings to the fore a need for a rethink as to how we, as South Africans, handle similar situations in our own organisations?
One of the unique facets of winning companies in the Technology Top 100 awards programme are the innovative ways in which they continue to encourage and stimulate the involvement of their employees. The following anecdotes provide some interesting reading as to what can be achieved in small, medium and large organisations, where there is a firm belief by management that they can create an environment which provides for a win-win situation where they have a happy workforce, and in so doing the company continues to thrive.
In all the anecdotes, the underlying common denominator is a senior executive team which has a unique approach to managing their people. In many respects this approach moves away from the notion of punishing people for failure, to one in which there is a predominant mind-set of “catching people doing something right”.
When it comes to failure it is interesting to note that the approach is to encourage employees to share their view as to why a failure occurred and in so doing create an environment where “learning to failures” is seen to be a positive approach resulting in a far more cohesive environment. All the stories are South African stories and many of them are completely unique.
As South Africans, when reading these stories one can take courage in knowing that in all the gloom and doom there are unique individuals, who in spite of obstacles are able to drive their organisations to greater success. We hope that you will find some of these anecdotes of interest and be persuaded to test some of these ideas within your own organisation.
One small company which was totally reliant on three young key individuals who had developed unique expertise in programming, microelectronics and manufacturing came to the realisation that if one of these individuals were to leave, the company would be under severe pressure to find adequate replacements. All three individuals were young, dynamic, fiercely independent and ambitious.  Fortunately, management realised that the calibre of these individuals was such that they would, in the near term, want to go out and establish their own organisations. In an anticipatory move, management approached the individuals and offered each of them their own company. The organisation employed the services of a professional team and developed three independent companies where each of the individuals were given a 50% stake together with a guaranteed offtake from the mother company.
The outcome of this move was particularly significant in as much as not only did they retain their key personnel through the ownership of their own company, but these individuals were even more energised to improve their offerings to the mother company.
A middle -sized company on reviewing the email system realised that a large percentage of outgoing emails were intercompany communications. They realised that the email system had become an inhibitor of face-to-face interaction and as a result management believed that the company was losing out on the potential of employees working effectively as a team.
On agreement with their employees, the company decided to ban all internal email communication every Tuesday. The rationale was for staff members to get off their seats and go and consult with their colleagues rather than sending emails. Whilst there was initial reluctance on the part of staff, after a few weeks it was agreed that the ban had resulted in significant benefits for the organisation.
By effectively ‘forcing’ members of staff to have personal interaction with their colleagues a whole new dispensation emanated. Discussions led to the generation of new ideas and more importantly the overall spirit in the organisation was lifted. Management recognised that the ambience of the organisation moved from one where there was minimal interaction to one in which colleagues started to look forward to coming to work on a Tuesday!
This is a story of a high-tech company which decided that at any one time there were only a handful of key personnel who had to be on the premises during working hours. These included people operating the switchboard, security, financial and administration personnel.
The bulk of their employees were highly skilled young programmers.  The company entered into an agreement with these employees where each one was allocated a task and an agreed upon deadline for the task to be completed. The agreement stated that the deliverable could be achieved at their own time and as such there was no need for them to adhere to formal office hours. This newfound freedom enabled employees to schedule their lives in a way in which they were able to balance their work and private lives in the far more effective way. The company soon found that employees were opting to come to work at odd hours throughout the day and night. In order to make the lives of these employees as comfortable as possible a fully stocked mini grocery store was positioned at the end of each passageway of the four-storey building. The store was stocked with an array of foodstuffs and beverages which was selected by the employees. The only restriction placed on the use of the grocery store was that alcohol could only be consumed after 5 PM in the evening. When assessing the costs of this initiative against increased productivity there was no doubt that such a move created a mutually beneficial situation.
The concept of self-directed work teams was fashionable in the 1990s and after many unsuccessful attempts in South Africa the concept soon lost popularity. There was however one company who persisted with the concept and found great traction with their workforce.  This multi-million Rand manufacturing organisation had contracts to manufacture automotive components for both local and international consumption. The pressures on quality and delivery schedules were extreme with the organisation having to compete with major international organisations offering similar services. Key to the effectiveness of the organisation was being price competitive, alongside the need to produce components which had to meet exacting performance and quality standards.
With increasing competition there was a need to find more innovative ways to cut down manufacturing times and costs. Whilst management adopted standard productivity processes it soon became apparent that they were running out of ideas. One day in a general discussion, one executive asked the question as to whether there had been any consultation on the shop floor? Surely he questioned, these are the people who are engaged on a daily basis with manufacturing these components and maybe, just maybe they see their day-to-day operations from an entirely different perspective?
The first move was to call together the staff on the shop floor and to request them to think about their day-to-day routine and to identify whether in fact they might have ideas which would short-circuit some of the manufacturing times without any compromise on quality? This was the first time that any major discussion had been initiated with the shop floor workers on a companywide basis. The following week management engaged with the workforce and found that there were numerous ideas as to how productivity could be improved. Management soon realised that these people were thinking about the processes way beyond anything they had come up with.
Of interest was a response from some of the work teams that productivity improvements should not only be focused on the manufacturing process itself, but also on their own colleagues, some of whom were not pulling their weight. They complained about people coming late to work, and in some cases the attitude of other co-workers towards the work environment was poor, whilst in other cases there was a need for additional training so that improvements could be achieved.
As management digested the input from the workforce they came to realise that here were people who had a genuine desire to see the company achieve its output targets and thereby ensure that they, as employees, will continue to have a job.  Management was also somewhat taken aback by the open way in which discussions around the performance of their colleagues took place. This led to the realisation that the company was endowed with a highly responsible group of shop floor workers who defied the normal perception.
After reflecting on the exposure, management decided to enter into formal negotiations with the workforce. The end result was a handing over total control of the shop floor to the workers. Management entered into a formal contractual agreement in which quotas for delivery of finished components were negotiated to be delivered on a weekly basis. Management effectively extracted itself from the shop floor and left the management of the production facility to the workers. A series of self-directed work teams were established each with a specific role to play in terms of the final finished product.
The upshot of this move was that management agreed not to enter the shop floor environment without specific permission from the coordinating group and further, management handed over all responsibility for hiring, firing and disciplining staff. The worker committee put up naming and shaming boards around the shop floor where if individuals persistently came late to work their name was displayed prominently on the board. The flexibility of the arrangement was such that the work teams would schedule their working times to give themselves long weekends.  The productivity improvements were significant.  The company was able to land even more lucrative international contracts.  In one case the company signed a 5-year supply agreement with a guaranteed fixed price for the duration of the contract.  Through the co-operation of the workforce they were able to meet all the conditions of the contract.
The project was entirely successful due to the open-mindedness of management and the willingness on the part of the workforce to engage in a completely new dispensation. Sadly, when the company was sold the new owners could not see their way clear to retaining this “informal management system”.
The CEO of a high-tech company who requires people with specialist electronic engineering skills became very disillusioned with the service he received from the professional placement companies.  He hit on an idea to use his exiting staff to headhunt new staff on behalf of the company.  His argument was based on the notion that his current specialist team would have their own network of friends and ex-university colleagues. 
So he called in his team and came to an arrangement with them based on them exploring their network and identifying likely prospects.  He went further and got them to do the first round interview with the specific objective of seeing how the prospect would fit into what was a very close-knit team.  The team would then present the CEO with a short list.
The deal was that if the prospect was offered employment and performed well and stayed with the company for more than a year, the CEO would pay the internal ‘head-hunter’ the same that he would pay a professional placement agency. 
The process has been highly successful.
The whole issue of staff development and training to meet new demands within an organisation is complex and requires specialist people in the human resources team to design and execute such programmes.  The concept of a Corporate University is now well established in many global organisations.  Here, companies either set up their own ‘university’ or enter into a formal partnership with a provider who can tailor offerings to meet the specific requirements of the company. In South Africa, Corporate Universities have in the main been unsuccessful.  There are a number of reasons for this, including the limited ability of most South African Universities to customise offerings to meet the specific requirements of the business.  The problem lies with the limited flexibility that universities have in changing course materials and even more concerning is the lack of academics who have sufficient business experience to stand up in front of people who are at the cutting edge of day-to-day business realities. 
One large listed entity in South Africa saw the need to establish their own Corporate University not only to meet the growing needs to upgrade the skills of their employees, but also to use the entity as part of their attraction and retention strategy. 
So, they entered into a formal partnership with the Da Vinci Institute with the specific objective of having a totally integrated suite of offerings which could lead to formal accredited qualifications.  Employees are now able to access the in-house ‘university’ and obtain credits leading to undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications.  The programmes on offer are tailored to meet the needs of all employees from the executive level downwards. 
Key to the design of the offerings are integration, in which the service provider is able to develop courses which meet the specific needs of the business.  The success is based on an active partnership in which the company and the service provider co-design and co-deliver the programmes. 
The cherry on the top is how the employees who are on the programmes are assessed.  This is achieved through the delivery of a post-module assignment where the employee is required to demonstrate their ability to use their newly acquired skills to solve a work-place problem.  Managers who take the programme seriously are now finding a whole new resource base for the development of new ideas and concepts.  The ultimate proof of success is to measure the bottom line impact which the new ideas have on the company’s performance.  In some divisions the company has reported huge Return on Investments (ROIs) and in many cases this amounts to several multiples of the cost of the training itself.  Further, the company found that the Corporate University had a demonstrable impact on their recruitment and retention strategy. 
There is a salutary lesson for all companies from the teachings of Loa Tzu 600 BC-531 BC who made the fundamental observation of the power of bringing your people closer to the heart of the organisation.  “Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have.  But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say “we have done this ourselves” –
This is a profound observation and one which a few Technology Top 100 Companies have put into practice.  The idea is to recognise that you have within your organisation a range of people at different levels.  Many of them are well versed with some of the day-to-day challenges facing the organisation.  These forward looking organisations no longer take their executives away for a 3-day strategy planning process, rather, they have come to realise that if you include a cross-section of all people in the organisation and engage in a strategic planning process a number of significant spinoffs come to the fore.
Firstly, they have come to realise the reach input that they get from these employees who under normal circumstances are never included in high-level planning processes.  Secondly, and more profoundly, they have found that the psychological impact of having people at these levels being consulted by the executive has major impact within the organisation.  All of a sudden there is a realisation that these people’s opinions are important to the wellbeing of the organisation and a direct consequence of this is that there is total buy-in from the employees.  They take joint ownership of the new strategy.
One manufacturing company has a regular Friday morning meeting with all the people on the shop floor.  The scene is all about sharing ideas and letting the employees know what the challenges are and what the expectations of their customers are.  It is an informal process but has been very powerful in gaining support.

These anecdotes are great examples of ‘the power of people’. They reflect a move away from a top-down approach, so prevalent in many companies, to a bottom-up approach in action. Companies that are rigidly holding on to outdated practices, are probably doing so from a fear-perspective, especially fear to lose control of the company and the direction it should take. However, by empowering their people, the ROI for the different companies have proved to be significant. Once companies realise that their staff are their most important asset, rather than a labour force that needs to be managed, productivity and motivation soar.

Prof R Marcus, from The Collaboratory, on behalf of TT100
June 2016

Second group of BCom Supply Chain students start their journey

On the second of June 2015, nineteen individuals from various companies within the courier industry entered the Da Vinci Institute, situated in Modderfontein. With a clear purpose and intention to journey on a road of co-creation and life-long learning, the energy within Da Vinci escalated as the excitement and nerves started to filter. 

The Da Vinci welcoming was orchestrated by Thrishan Naicker, Key Account Manager for the BCom Supply Chain cohorts. Garry Marshall, CEO of SAEPA addressed the students with encouraging and inspiring words. Marshall stated that gone are the days of old when people with just experience and no formal qualifications operate within the Supply Chain industry. The future of the courier industry is dependant on allowing passionate individuals to learn but also to focus importance on the application of such. 

Dr Linda Chipunza carries out personalised student support for all students and in her gentle character, encouraged students to find that balance within their own lives in how to effectively manage work pressures, home life and that of a study routine. As working adults it is often hard to take on an additional task of studying, and this is commendable and achievable. Dr Chipunza relayed her support to the students and also advised them of Shadowmatch, which is a behavourial pattern tool to establish various behaviours which allow positive action, rather than negative.

Ronald Mlalazi is a Da Vinci associate and is a colleague at Commerce Edge, procurement and supply chain management faculty at Da Vinci. Mr Mlalazi congratulated students for having the courage to take the first step on this journey and offered words of wisdom in accomplishing this great achievement.

The first workshop for students was facilitated by Mr Joshua Bhengu and consisted of Self, Other and Social Context (SOS), Problem Solving, Creative thinking and decision making (PCD) and Managerial Leadership Development (MLD). True to Da Vinci’s purpose is the notion of cultivating managerial leaders, of which these three modules apply strongly to. Each one of these nineteen individuals are a managerial leader within themselves and the co-creation of such modules assists in unlocking and unleashing the very potential to become a great managerial leader.

Students start their journey within Sales Process and Management

On Tuesday morning, the 26th of May, twenty one students arrived as part of the new group for the Metro Minds Certificate programme which is applied to the Sales Process and Management Environment. The students are from different companies within the courier industry and the initial development of this qualification was done in association with SAEPA (South African Express Parcel Association), a Task Team from SAAFF (South African Association of Freight Forwarders) and The Da Vinci Institute as the accrediting body. The sponsorship from TETA through the TETA Discretionary Grants: Bursaries has assisted in the implementation of this project.

Piloted in January 2014, the programme has successfully seen two cohorts or groups of students complete their studies. Says Garry Marshall, CEO SAEPA “our members have seen the benefit of developing their sales staff into more than just sales people. They are developing Supply Chain Specialists who are able to provide best solutions to clients thereby becoming a strategic partner in their customer’s businesses.”

“The purpose of this Qualification”, says Belinda Goddard, Project Manager at Da Vinci, “is also to produce lifelong students who are equipped to contribute towards the debate on socio-economic transformation and managerial leadership development in South Africa. This purpose seeks to transform individuals, organisations (public and private, including self-owned businesses) and the community at large, dealing with managerial leadership development challenges such as the management of technology, the management of innovation, the management of people and the management of systems, from a Sales Process and Management Environment perspective.”

The 12 month programme will include core modules such as the management of technology and innovation delivered by The Da Vinci Institute as well as The Art of Selling & Presentations, Sales Finance and Supply Chain Value which is facilitated by Juliette Fourie, CEO at Metro Minds. Students will be required to attend workshops once a month at The Da Vinci Institute in Modderfontein. Assignments are workplace based assignments and require involvement from companies, mentors and managers within the respective companies. Learners will be required to meet the exit level outcomes with the related critical cross-field outcomes through integrated submissions on post-module assignments.

“SAEPA would like to thank all parties involved in making this project a reality – a special word of thanks to Tony d’Almeida and the SAAFF team for having the vision of this programme and driving the project to where it is today. We look forward to reporting many successes through our learners at the end of this programme and thank our members for participating in this project with us”, said Martine Maraschin, Skills Development Task Team of SAEPA.


February 26, 2015 
Accenture South Africa hosted its first Accenture Innovation Conference at The Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead on 26 February 2015. The conference included a gathering of some of the world’s foremost innovation thought leaders to focus on how South African companies can best use innovation to achieve greater competitiveness, productivity, efficiency and growth. The conference, organised around the theme Dare to Disrupt, brought together more than 1,500 business leaders, including many of the country’s top business innovators.
The conference focused on a broad range of topics related to the use of digital and other breakthrough technologies in areas ranging from strategy development to business operations. Top-class speakers explained how technology—notably digital technology, has already disrupted every area of our lives, challenging industries, companies and customer channels. They also addressed how business and government leaders in South Africa and the sub-continent can nourish innovation, change conventional thinking and support transformation.
In his opening address, Accenture South Africa Chief Executive William Mzimba indicated that against the backdrop of increasing volatility and growing competition fuelled by globalisation, only organisations that seamlessly integrate innovation into everything they do will secure sustainable growth and create a competitive advantage. He stated that the Accenture Innovation Conference provides a platform from which businesses and organisations can explore strategic and practical insights on innovation to help frame their strategic vision and drive their innovation road map in an unprecedented manner. He also explained the relevance for South Africa as a regional leader and why innovation can bring value to the sub-continent.
“If South Africa, as part of the broader Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, is to take its place on the international stage, it must recognise the imperative role that innovation will play,” Mzimba said. “We should recognise the fact that our country’s success is linked to the ability of its companies and public sector organisations to innovate.”
Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, author of the book The Innovator’s Dilemma, and keynote speaker at the conference, unpacked the theme of Dare to Disrupt in his address. “Disruptive innovation is not a breakthrough innovation that makes good products a lot better; it has a very specific definition, and that is to transform a product that historically was so expensive and complicated that only a few people with a lot of money and a lot of skill had access to it. Disruptive innovation makes it so much more affordable and accessible that a much larger population has access to it,” underlined Christensen. “The root of disruptive innovation is amending the way people think. Instead of sharing what to think, business should focus on how to think, this will profoundly impact organisations and their leaders across the globe.”
According to Greg Brandeau, president and COO of Maker Media, and former chief of Technology and Operations of Pixar and Walt Disney, innovation leadership is the key to creating an innovative culture and harnessing the business value of innovation. “The most successful innovative companies have a leader who drives innovation actively throughout all levels of the organisation. Creative thoughts are encouraged; incentives given for ideas that can be commercialised and processes are in place to support that commercialisation. It is a culture that drives competitive differentiation,” stated Brandeau.
“The key to company-wide creativity is a special kind of leadership. It does not necessarily look like other kinds of ‘good’ leadership. It does not mean creating a vision and trying to make innovation happen as an individual. Instead it means creating and sustaining a culture where innovation is allowed to happen again and again, creating an environment where people are both willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem-solving requires,” concluded Brandeau.
Speaking about his innovative patent and the use of reverse innovation, South Africa’s youngest patent holder, Ludwick Marishane, said that his mission is to develop innovative products that solve the global consumer’s pressing needs, while contributing extensively to the development of Africa’s own world-leading innovation ecosystem. “The process of reverse innovation begins by focussing on needs and requirements for low-cost products. Once the products are developed for these markets, they are then sold elsewhere at low prices which in turn creates new markets and uses for these innovations,” stated Marishane. He also explained the challenges faced by innovators to take their ideas to market: “Entrepreneurs face a number of challenges including accessing of the right skills, securing funding, scaling, and sustaining innovation and growing internationally.”
Sebastian Thrun, Google Glass inventor, robotics developer, educator, CEO and co-founder of Udacity, advocated the value of innovation to change people’s lives. “Innovation in education, especially in Africa, will reap immeasurable results for the future and holds huge benefits for African economic growth through providing the skills to drive innovation and deliver on the growth agenda. At the end of the day, the true value proposition of education is employment,” stated Thrun.
“Innovative organisations leverage innovation to combat increasing volatility, industry-specific concerns and growing competition. By fostering a culture of innovation seamlessly in everything they do, innovative organisations decrease costs without reducing headcount, increase their market share and improve social conditions. When leadership is able to strategically focus their efforts around innovation they will secure sustainable growth and create a competitive advantage,” explained Lisa Bodell, best-selling author of Kill the Company, in her talk about removing the obstacles to harnessing innovation.
In his endorsement of the conference, the United States of America Ambassador to South Africa, Mr. Patrick Gaspard, said “innovation will drive the economies of the future, including South Africa, and the time to focus on innovation and entrepreneurship is now, in order to achieve the future we all want, that of prosperity for all people.”
“We are focused on developing a much broader, stronger economic partnership with South Africa to help develop a vibrant innovation economy, capturing the tremendous potential of your scientists and companies to help solve some of the planet’s toughest medical, environmental and manufacturing challenges, while making businesses more productive and helping to create thousands of new jobs,” added Gaspard.
South African business innovation success stories were showcased in the exhibition sections at the conference. The showcase culminated with the announcement of the winners and findings of Accenture’s second Innovation Index, which examined how innovation is managed within an organisation and looks at a number of key aspects of innovation management, including how the business encourages innovation among employees, leverages technology and embraces innovation in service delivery. It also assesses whether companies are innovating in a manner that is socially and environmentally responsible.
The Innovation Masters category comprises of two sub-categories. The Accenture Innovation Overall Masters Apex Award for 2014 goes to an organisation with an annual turnover of less than R40 million and the top honours went to Angel Shack (Pty) Ltd. The Accenture Innovation Overall Masters Zenith Award for 2014 goes to an organisation with an annual turnover of more than R40 million and the winner was Blue Strata Trading. Meanwhile, Easy Equities – First World Trader (Pty) Ltd was awarded the title of Accenture Innovation Concept for 2014.
The Accenture Innovation Index welcomes entries from listed and unlisted companies, as well as Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and public organisations across a variety of industries including financial services, resources, health and public sector, communications, technology and media. The Accenture Innovation Index participants enter in two categories of innovation – The Innovation Masters and the Innovation Concepts.
Innovation Masters comprises companies that exude innovation through everything they do. Entry into this category was open to any organisation regardless of size, industry or listing. The judging process explored how innovation is managed in an organisation and looked at a number of key aspects including how companies encourage innovation with their employees, leverage technology and embrace innovation in service delivery. The judging process also considered whether companies are innovating in a space in which they remain socially and environmentally responsible.
Organisations may enter a concept into the Accenture Innovation Concepts if the concept has been commercialised, sold in the market place for a period shorter than three years and is genuinely South African. Evaluation of the entrants looks at product development, process and system design, as well as service delivery.
The 2014 Innovation Index saw an increase of 90 percent in entrants vetted for creditworthiness by TransUnion compared to 2013, demonstrating a higher number of quality entrants and revealing organisations’ seriousness about innovation. “South Africa’s average innovation score improved by a third this year compared to 2013, indicating that corporate South Africa is driving new thinking to face market opportunities head-on,” stated Yusof Seedat, head of Accenture Research, South Africa.
“South African companies can use innovation to achieve greater competitiveness, not only through new market ideas, but through productivity and efficiency improvements,” stated William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Accenture South Africa. “Successful innovation drives transformation, brings about convergence of customer needs and breaks down geographic boundaries. South Africa needs greater collaboration between public and private organisations to drive greater GDP growth through innovation. This should focus on better education and training, improving entrepreneurial culture, increasing R&D and creating technology-led business models.”
“A positive trend this year has been the growth of open innovation as a means to leverage knowledge from outside the organisation to help solve problems and find new ideas for creating growth. This collaborative approach is seen as an important way to bring innovations to market faster and gain a competitive advantage over peers,” stated Seedat.
“Among the most important findings this year, given the recurring theme of innovation leadership, is that chairmen and CEOs may remain the ultimate custodians of the innovation agenda, but there is a gratifying increase in the number of innovation departments formalised within company structures,” explained Seedat.
“The 2014 Innovation Index results show an improved innovation score in South Africa – the outcome of several positive organisational evolutions. At the same time, much work remains to be done to overcome barriers in the way of adopting innovative practices. Laggards and smaller organisations can emulate the habits of highly effective innovators, including committing strong leadership and embracing emerging digital technologies that foster collaboration and ideation at scale,” concluded Seedat.
Annually, Accenture partners with The Da Vinci Institute to develop a sound methodology for the independent measurement of entries in the Innovation Index. Accenture does not participate in the evaluation procedures. Each organisation entering receives a customised innovation diagnostic report or dashboard that identifies their innovation gaps and strengths, providing business value to the entrant. It also benchmarks the organisation within its industry and provides strategies that may help the organisation to gain a competitive advantage. Working collaboratively to complete the questionnaire for entry, the process sparks new conversations across various areas and levels of responsibility in organisations to help them uncover their strengths and opportunities from the onset of their participation.
The assessment process includes a vetting through TransUnion – the credit and information management company – completion of the main questionnaire and adjudication of high-scoring companies. Further vetting through TransUnion and a final judging round is undertaken to verify organisations and determine the winners. The Innovation Index survey is quantitative in nature with very limited open-ended questions. It touches on all aspects of an organisation’s innovation and those who enter have the option to submit their concepts for consideration in the showcase and awards.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 319,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US $30.0 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2014. Its home page is

Review of TT100 Awards Ceremony

TT100 2014 REVIEW
2 February 2015
CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria
The TT100 Awards is an annual event hosted by The Da Vinci Institute for the Management of Technology and Innovation, under the auspices of the DST. This year the awards ceremony took place on the sidelines of a first-of-its-kind event in South Africa, namely, the Innovation Bridge.  This is an event that the DST has organised to bring together innovators, financiers and technology incubators under one roof, a platform that aims to bridge the gap between them.
Speaking at the TT100 Awards ceremony in Pretoria on 2 February 2015, the Minister said that there seemed a lack of appreciation in South Africa for home-grown technological capabilities, even in areas in which the country’s offerings were generally recognised as the best in the world.
The 2014 TT100 Awards Programme not only showcases the increase in the output and quality of South African technologies, but has also expanded its scope to include organisations from Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Among the recipients was Eskom’s Group Executive for Sustainability, Dr Steve Lennon, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr Lennon, who also chaired the National Advisory Council on Innovation, is widely recognised locally and internationally for leadership in areas such as technological innovation and R&D, sustainability management and energy, including project development and funding and establishing partnerships and networks, such as investor relationships.
The Minister’s Award for Overall Excellence was taken by Accsys (Pty) Ltd in the sector of medium enterprises, and PFK Electronics (Pty) Ltd in the large enterprises sector. These are awarded to recognise companies that consistently and progressively demonstrate a unique ability to manage core elements of the business, including technology, innovation, people, systems, research and sustainability.
In the Emerging Enterprise sector, Olive Expert Services (Pty) Ltd scooped three awards for overall excellence in the Management of Technology, Innovation and Systems.
In the category of Management of Technology, Ctrack (Digicore) was awarded within the large sector enterprises, while Technetium was awarded within the medium enterprises sector. Merlynn Intelligence Systems, extensive background in the methodologies, process, development skills and implementation strategies surrounding Predictive Analytics solutions was awarded within the small enterprises sector.
In the Large Enterprise sector, Altech Multimedia and Magnet Electrical Supplies were both awarded within the category of Management of Innovation. ID Control Solutions and Verirad were awarded as the preferred Medium Enterprise within this category whilst Campus Labs were awarded within the Small Enterprise Sector.
Within the category of Management of People, QK Meats were awarded within the Large Enterprise sector and Accsys were awarded within the Medium Enterprise sector.
Altech Multimedia and Afrox were both awarded in the category of  Management of Systems within the Large Enterprise sector. Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property was awarded within the Medium Enterprise sector and Wagienience was successfully awarded as a Small Enterprise.
“It is encouraging to see how, year-on-year, many of these organisations have been able to find innovative ways of sustaining their businesses, and, in many cases, have been able to export their products and services in fiercely competitive global markets,” said the Minister.

About TT100
The TT100 Business Awards Programme, with support from various partners such as Eskom and government was launched in 1991 by the South African Engineering Association (SAVI).  The programme has been focused on drawing attention to the importance of developing a local culture of technological innovation and excellence. TT100 has evolved into one of the foremost business awards programmes that lauds South African companies for their business prowess in the Management of Technology, Innovation, People, Systems, Research and Sustainability, regardless of their industry. The programme is as an effective vehicle for achieving growth and innovation advancement in our country, while raising awareness of the critical need for South African companies to embrace the management of technology, innovation and people in a systemic and sustainable manner. Since 1994, TT100 has enjoyed strong endorsement by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) as the major government sponsor.