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No easy road to harmony between strategy and regulation

With an increasing focus on regulation, companies must be able to both shape and respond to the regulatory agenda in traditional as well as emerging markets. But this is not easy to put into practice, particularly in the communications sector, as KPMG reports.

Yunus SulemanThe 2007 KPMG Bringing Regulation into the Boardroom survey, based on interviews with over 60 senior managers in telecommunication operators around the globe, reveals that senior management and the regulatory function, whilenot poles apart, may have different priorities.

Convergence of telecommunications and media, along with deregulation, is blurring traditional regulatory boundaries and putting increasing pressure to improve communications, learn from other industries and build a strong regulatory team.

“This situation is even more complex and pressing for those companies operating in multiple regulatory environments,” says Yunus Suleman, chairman of KPMG SA. “Subsequently, companies will increasingly need to develop proactive regulatory functions that recognise commercial issues and can communicate with the board.” Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

The Great Disconnect

The South African Government’s intransigence in dealing with the energy crisis has a spectacular precedent: it’s failure of leadership in telecommunications. Ten years from now, however, no one should have to say “we told you so”. But there are 10 essential demands that have to be met, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

You don’t have to spend a decade analysing internet connectivity in South Africa to understand that the Government is the one organisation that does not have the strategic ability to connect South Africans.

Yet, the policy of the Government has been to have a stake in all entities that supply connectivity. The Minister of Communications has insisted that Government also have a share of any new undersea cables designed to deliver additional telecommunications capacity to South Africa. And, despite all the evidence that points to it being a bad move, other Government departments, too, are joining the rush for control of such capacity.

Laying the undersea cablesThe result? Instead of having three or four global suppliers at the beginning of 2008, as had been the prospect as recently as a year ago, we will still have only the SAT3/SAFE cable, which is still controlled by Telkom.

However, the undersea cables represent only one aspect of the great disconnect in South Africa.

The following is a priority list of 10 essential demands for the health of telecommunications and internet connectivity in South Africa. In collaboration with colleagues and associates, helped along by participants in public debates at numerous conferences, the list has evolved over time, and will keep evolving. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy, Technology

The Next Big Wallet, courtesy of SA software developer

Fundamo, the South African-based mobile banking software developer, has been chosen to partner Accenture in the world wide rollout of mobile wallets to 700 mobile network operators.

Fundamo, a provider of mobile banking and payment software solutions, has signed a partnership agreement with Accenture, the global management consulting and technology services company, to accelerate the worldwide adoption of mobile wallets.

Aletha LingAccenture will lead the promotion of mobile wallets worldwide in 2008, which will allow Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to deploy, operate and fine tune a Mobile Wallet service, learning how to streamline registration, optimise price points and test partnering relationships with a bank, prior to full scale mobile wallet service deployment. The Accenture Mobile Wallet platform will be presented to 700 Mobile Network Operators early in 2008.

“This partnership combines Accenture’s ability to define and deliver new business opportunities globally, bringing together both communications and financial services markets, with Fundamo’s deep experience and technology development in the mobile payments market,” says Aletha Ling, Head of Business Development at Fundamo. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology

African banking market beckons

The bankingsector’s real opportunity for organic growth is to look for the vast unserved African banking market, says international banking guru Joe DiVanna, who is to head a bill of over 60 experts at a banking technology conference in Nairobi next month.

Joe DiVanna, a world-renowned consultant, researcher, speaker and trainer in innovative banking, will headline the African Banking Technology Conference, to be held in Nairobi from 28 March to 4 April 2008.

Joe DiVannaDescribed as a “polymath” by The Economist, for his cutting edge approach to strategy development, DiVanna directs Maris Strategies, a Cambridge think-tank for business and financial services. He is author of numerous management books, including Redefining Financial Services and The Future of Retail Banking,

He will hold a full-day “Banking Mini-MBA”, entitled “The African Banking Agenda: Innovation, Performance, Service”.

“The dynamics of the unfolding landscape of today’s world financial markets demands that financial institutions learn to excel at innovation in order to compete,” he argues. “In Africa, competition is being redefined as regulatory structures open up to foreign banks. Within each nation, competition for existing customers is also becoming more intense, as banks are often targeting the same customers.
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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

The conscience-driven corporation

The great entrepreneurs were always driven by the meaning they found in making a difference in their respective fields. And this implies that you can be market-driven, yet have a conscience. In Part 2 of his exploration of the death of the profit motive, JERRY SCHUITEMA introduces the concept of contribution-driven corporations.

Jerry SchuitemaThere is a fundamental axiom which few would challenge: that our true value as human beings lies in our capacity to make a contribution to the good of others.

To argue that the best way of achieving this is to focus exclusively on the material benefit to be gained from the contribution seems illogical. It is saying that individuals give their best when they focus on their worst qualities such as greed and insecurity… that we only give to the extent that we know we will get. Such a human being will become dysfunctional.

None of us knows with certainty what we can get out of any situation but we know with far greater clarity and certainty what we are capable of giving. To restrict giving, therefore, to what we know what we will get restricts the contribution and negates our possible value. This is what risk and entrepreneurship is about. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

Profit Motive is the new Titanic

The twin corporate issues of sustainability and governance are not only changing the rules of the game but the game itself. They are challenging the way business has been understood since Adam Smith and they must have the likes of Milton Friedman twitching in his recently dug grave, writes Jerry Schuitema.

When the Titanic set sail from Southampton in the spring of 1912, it was more than the biggest and best passenger ship of its time. It represented both the best and the worst of contemporary society. It was the epitome of grandeur, opulence, refinement and innovation. It was also an engineering marvel and was hailed as a symbol of man’s mastery of the elements.

The Titanic - sunk by greedIt stood for the notion that out of man’s hunger for material wealth comes greatness. In its variously classed cabins were cocooned the desires, dreams, aspirations and, later, courage and cowardice of both the elite and the common people. It was the embodiment of profit-driven greed, competitiveness, pride and arrogance. These things, not the iceberg, were what sank it.

The Profit Motive has also hit an iceberg. It is foundering. The Ethics, the Sustainability, and the Good Governance are steaming to its rescue, but they can no longer save the ship. They may be just in time to save the passengers and crew from the freezing waters. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

Power failures and notebooks:How to extend your working life

South African businesses have become accustomed to country-wide power cuts as Eskom attempts to reduce demand on the national grid. Even a laptop computer is no longer good enough to keep the computer-dependent going. Nadia Hufkie, HP SA’s Country Category Manager for its Personal Systems Group, offers advice on extending your working hours on a notebook computer.

Nadia HufkieWith the proliferation of mobile computing, many businesses are reliant on notebook PCs to conduct their daily work. However, with power cuts occurring at random times, notebook users often find themselves with a battery that dies – bringing work abruptly to a halt.

The current situation is obviously hampering the productivity of South Africa’s mobile workforce. There are, however, simple actions – as well as new innovations – that users can take advantage of to help their batteries last longer and stay productive. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 1: The digital hearth

In this wrap-up from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, The Big Change summarises some of the hi-tech breakthroughs, launches and visions that are already changing or about to change the way we work and live.

Just more than 40 years after it was first staged by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas saw one of the greatest explosions of cutting-edge technologies in its history last week.

Gary Shapiro, CEA president and CEOMore than 2,700 exhibitors, a record 1.85 million square feet of exhibit space across a number of venues, and the industry’s leading executives unveiling their visions, were all symptoms of a bigger trend that is playing itself out across the world.

According to CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, in his “State of the Industry” address, consumer electronics industry sales will jump to $171 billion in 2008, a 6.1 percent increase over 2007. He cautioned that, although the industry would continue to outpace projected sales in other industries, continued growth is threatened by protectionist policies. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 2: Content and cars

New content and entertainment platforms and electronic advances in the automotive market were two of the hot topics of the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Leaders from Comcast and General Motors delivered keynote addresses illustrating consumer technology’s growing relationship with both the content and automotive industries.

GM’s hydrogen car designed for Jay LenoBrian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp., the largest cable TV services in the USA, became the first chief executive from the cable industry to deliver a CES keynote. He said today’s convergence of media has ushered in a new era for Comcast, which he referred to as Comcast 3.0. He identified innovation, technology, choice and customer service as the four major elements at the center of Comcast 3.0.

Roberts announced the end of an era for set-top boxes, and proclaimed a new generation for two-way platforms with the introduction of an OpenCable platform called tru2way. Panasonic president Toshihiro Sakamoto joined Roberts on stage to announce their co-creation of AnyPlay, the first portable DVR and DVD combination with tru2way capability. Roberts also announced that more than 1,000 HD choices will be available for the portable device in 2008. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

How hi-tech is changing the world Part 3: 20 new technologies.

Technologies that will change the world, or at least prove to be disruptive, range from medical devices using advanced microchips; a universal availability of open-source software; all DRM-free music and the recent change in encryption licensing allowing consumers to download and burn their own media.

World’s largest HD plasma-screen display from PanasonicThese were some of the predictions for future disruptive technologies made at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week in a SuperSession entitled “Big Thinkers, Disruptive Technologies – Today’s Thought Leaders, Tomorrow’s Technologies”.

The common theme of the panel was a future where consumers enjoy the democratization of information and technology.

The big trend at CES was the rapid roll-out of new display technologies, larger displays and cheaper displays, with the likes of Sharp and Samsung competing head-to-head with traditional display leaders like Sony and Panasonic.

Here is a sampling of the new technology and devices unveiled at CES 2008 that captured the attention of the world: Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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