100% Design South Africa is pleased to announce that Mr Price Home is celebrating their ongoing collaboration with leading South African designers in a feature at the exhibition called The Mr Price Home Colab Café.

 

The Colab Café will be the centre part of the 100% Design South Africa which runs alongside Decorex Joburg from the 6th to the 10th of August at Gallagher Convention Centre and ispresented by Dauphin HumanDesign® Group, Condé Nast House & Garden and The Home Channel.

 

Renowned for interpreting international trends and developing home-grown designs the creative team at Mr Price Home embarked on a journey in 2012 of collaboration with the phenomenal talent alive and thriving in South Africa. Working with a diverse range of designers and design companies, Wola Nani, Lisa Firer, Terry Angelo, Mick and Sally Haigh, Jan Douglas, Kiekie, Andy Cartwright, Ed Suter, Michael Chandler, Amanda du Plessis, Rorkes Drift ELC Arts and Craft Centre, Mervyn Gers, Rene Roussouw, Michele Aubourg, Mia Widlake, Robin Weeks and Sue Sylvester the Mr Price Home team have produced hugely popular and affordable designs for all.

 

Yanni Vasloo, Merchandise Director of Mr Price Home explains ‘Our COLAB initiative was born out of the love and excitement we feel every day, in our in-house design studio, when we create the product ranges we offer, and extending it through working with trending South African Designers. To quote Sir Terrace Conran, “the democratisation of design is the great opportunity to sell to a wider domestic audience” and this is what continues to inspire us to develop ranges with SA talent. We are super excited to show a retrospective of COLAB work done over the past 24 months, as 100% is the authentic vehicle that brings together industry experts, new direction and most of all great  SA design, whilst agitating the industry status quo and creating design velocity.’

 

Laurence Brick, Creative Director of 100% Design South Africa explains why having Mr Price Home at the inaugural showing of 100% Design South Africa is important for South African design. ‘Our exhibition is primarily about design-lead products however being design-focussed does not mean that a product has to be expensive. Mr Price Home produces affordable design which speaks to a huge variety of people and they push designers to create accessible design therefore breaking down the barriers of design understanding.’

 

The Colab Café will feature much of the Colab work by Mr Price Home and the South African designers in a retrospective exhibition set in a casual restaurant environment at 100% Design South Africa. Many of the designers will also be exhibiting at the show in their private capacity. These include Amanda du Plessis, Ed Suter, Mick Haigh, Mervyn Gers, Sue Sylvester, and Lisa Firer.

 

  COLAB can be found in selected Mr Price Home stores or visit www.mrphome.com to find out more about this range…

 

For more information and images on the brands at 100% Design South Africa or interviews with any of the participants please contact

Cathy O’Clery +27 (0)72 772 4463 cathy.100percentdesign@ThebeReed.co.za

Maryn Van Biljon +27 (0)82 528 7937 maryn.van.biljon@gmail.com

Web site: www.100percentdesign.co.za

Facebook: 100 Percent Design South Africa Twitter: 100designsa

Lady Luck was once again smiling on Hermon Vos as he walked away with a cheque for R120,000 at Konica Minolta South Africa’s 2014 Dash 4 Cash incentive event. Vos, a branch manager at Konica Minolta Zululand in Kwa-Zulu Natal, was also the winner of last year’s event.

Dash 4 Cash, which was held at Scarlet Ribbon, in Greenstone Park, Johannesburg, and sponsored largely by Schmitts Casino started off with 25 qualified entrants taking a chance on the roulette table. After two rounds the starting 25 were whittled down to the final three.

The ultimate victor, Vos (right) is pictured here receiving his cheque from Konica Minolta South Africa’s product manager – production solutions, Leon Minnie (left).

More than 50 retailers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa have been in distress since the global financial crisis, and many are in distress today. Some are in denial about their situation; others are busy fixing the wrong problems.

Over the past few years, sales growth at the top publicly listed European retailers has been a mere one or two percentage points above inflation; average EBIT1 margins have dropped to around 0.5 to 1.5 percent of sales. The short- to medium-term forecast doesn’t suggest any respite from these gloomy numbers. Changing consumer lifestyles and preferences, the Internet, and continued economic uncertainty are putting pressure on—and, in some cases, causing financial distress among—many traditional retailers.

There are broadly two types of distressed situations a retailer can face. One is a cash or liquidity crisis, requiring immediate cash-management and debt-restructuring measures. The other, which is trickier to detect, consists of a set of issues that may not threaten immediate bankruptcy but pose fundamental challenges to the sustainability of the business model. In this article, we discuss how to recognize—and emerge victoriously from—the second type, an undertaking we refer to as a “distressed turnaround.”

How do you spot a distressed retailer?

What’s a good reality check for retailers? How can a retailer tell whether it’s in a distressed situation? We recommend both an analytical and a strategic approach.

In analytical terms, we suggest these criteria: a publicly traded retailer is in distress if its total returns to shareholders (TRS) has been negative for two consecutive years and is 50 percent or more below its industry peers’ TRS.2 By this definition, more than 50 retailers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa have been in distress since the global financial crisis. These retailers range from department stores to restaurant chains to consumer-electronics players, and from smaller national companies to large multinationals.

Strategically, retail leaders should keep a close watch on their performance in the six dimensions of retail excellence: customer focus, merchandising, operations, infrastructure, people, and, most important, customer proposition (Exhibit 1). Material underperformance in any of these dimensions can be deeply problematic, but if a retailer doesn’t have a compelling customer proposition—a reason for customers to choose that retailer over competitors—it simply won’t survive.

Retailers should monitor their performance in the six dimensions of retail excellence.

How do you turn the company around?

The experiences of distressed retailers that have successfully turned their business around, either during or since the global financial crisis, have shown that a five-stage approach to retail turnarounds can lead to sustained success (Exhibit 2).

A successful retail turnaround typically undergoes five stages.

Stage 1: Wake up

The first stage of the turnaround sounds easy and obvious: acknowledge that your company is in distress. But for executives accustomed to success, this stage can be difficult and humbling. Denial is the norm. When we surveyed more than 1,500 executives who have been in turnaround situations, over half of them said they had either underestimated the severity of the problem or refused to accept that there was a problem at all.3 One retail CEO, whose company’s TRS was well below competitors’ and had declined by more than 90 percent in a single year, refused to use the word “turnaround” in discussing the business. “We are not in a turnaround situation,” he insisted.

Our analysis suggests that in most industries 10 to 15 percent of large companies are in distress at any given time. Take a hard look at your company’s TRS performance; test whether your customer proposition is resonating with consumers. If your company is indeed in distress, it’s best to come to terms with it now, while there’s still time to act.

Stage 2: Believe nothing, prove everything

Retail leaders must then seek to understand the causes of distress—and do so in a fact-based way. Company myths can be pervasive and difficult to dispel; many companies move reflexively to action based on long-held beliefs and assumptions, not taking the time to figure out if they’re attacking the right problem. Among our survey respondents, only 22 percent said they conducted a diagnostic at the start of their turnaround program. As one senior executive told us, “We jumped to what we thought the solution was, only to find out later that we had wasted our time and effort.”

A rigorous diagnostic increases the program’s chances of success: in our survey, 60 percent of companies that undertook a diagnostic achieved a successful turnaround. The success rate was only 34 percent among companies that didn’t do a diagnostic.

The diagnostic should bring to light what’s not working, but it should also highlight what’s working well. Often, companies become too absorbed pinpointing the problems and overlook inherent strengths in their businesses that can help them overcome their difficulties. Our research shows that a turnaround in which the company diagnoses both its strengths and weaknesses is more than twice as likely to succeed as a turnaround in which the diagnostic identifies only the company’s weaknesses.

We recommend that retailers take a “clean sheet” approach, which can be laborious but often yields powerful and surprising insights. One retailer, in undertaking a clean-sheet exercise, discovered that no one on the top team knew the total number of the company’s back-office locations or the size of its workforce across all subsidiaries. Because of disparate data systems, gathering this information was a surprisingly tedious task. But doing the legwork paid off: after the clean-sheeting exercise, the company found that five of its back offices and several support functions had considerable opportunities to improve efficiency. Within six months, the retailer was able to generate material cash savings through lease exits and consolidation of back-office teams.

Stage 3: Act early and aggressively

Once the causes of distress are clear, a retailer must move quickly and boldly. In particular, the CEO must put in place an action-oriented executive team and set ambitious cost targets. Both will be critical to survival.

Without major changes in the top team, it’s hard for a company to make a radical departure from past decisions and direction. One CEO who has led multiple turnarounds has even gone so far as to formulate the following guideline: “My rule of thumb for the top team is that a third will remain, a third will be promoted from within the company, and a third will come from outside. Otherwise, nothing changes.”

Once in place, the top team must then rapidly find ways to cut costs. For retailers, the biggest cost levers are typically head-office costs, supplier funding and cost of goods sold (COGS), and property and store costs.

Head-office costs. Head-office costs can be a drag on retailers’ profit-and-loss statements. A retail CEO should streamline headquarters if one or more of the following is true:

The company has too many committees and boards that have been built up over the years (as a result of past priority projects or acquisitions) and never culled. One incoming turnaround CEO described encountering “a board for every topic.” Company leaders should be taking action, not sitting in meetings.

The headquarters organization is top-heavy. Simply splitting the head office into salary tiers can highlight this issue: there shouldn’t be more executives at the highest level than in the next couple of levels.

Executives have too small a span of control. The right span varies for every role, but in general (except perhaps for specialist roles), if each manager supervises fewer than seven or eight team members, the organization would benefit from delayering.

Supplier funding. Supplier negotiations, with the aim of lowering COGS, are a critical lever for most retailers. In distress situations, we have found that assertive and creative approaches to suppliers can create value very quickly.

One retailer was experiencing dramatic sales declines due to “showrooming”: customers would browse in the stores but use their mobile devices to buy from Amazon—often while they were still in the store, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. The company’s analysis of industry-sales data strongly suggested that its in-store displays and promotions correlated with online sales: when a product was displayed prominently in its stores, overall online sales (including Amazon’s sales) of that product rose; when stores stopped promoting the product, online sales went down. The retailer negotiated with its suppliers to get a “fair share” of the value by calculating the online-sales boost from in-store displays. Over the following six months, the retailer renegotiated with all of its suppliers and agreed on a level of ongoing funding support that offset the retailer’s promotional costs.

Property costs. As sales migrate online, a legacy store network can act as the proverbial noose around a retailer’s neck. To get a realistic picture of its store network’s future value, a retailer should adjust for industry trends (such as the shift to online) when calculating store profitability.

A European leisure retailer, for example, launched a store-transformation program that initially encompassed only the 5 percent of its stores that were unprofitable. But when the company extrapolated current trends into the future—specifically, the migration of sales from physical stores to online—it projected a 30 percent decline in sales volume across all stores within three years. And after taking into account the allocation of central costs (such as the IT to support store systems), the retailer realized that more than half of its stores could become unprofitable in three years.

The company thus radically redefined the scope of its store-transformation program. It evaluated the entire network from a “zero base”—meaning each store needed to justify its existence. The company divided its stores into four groups based on profitability and ease of lease exit, then developed a different strategy for each group (Exhibit 3).

Stores should be categorized by profitability and ease of exit.

 

Stage 4: Fire on all cylinders

Too often, retail executives in turnaround situations think only about cost cutting. While cost cutting is necessary when the company is in survival mode, it won’t always address the root causes that led to a turnaround situation in the first place.

In our executive survey on turnarounds, respondents said that cost issues were the cause of distress in one-third of turnarounds; two-thirds of the time the cause was a challenge to the business model, such as discounters entering the market or customers moving online. Yet when respondents listed the actions their company took during the turnaround, almost two-thirds of the actions were focused on costs and didn’t address challenges related to the business model. Without thoughtful business-model actions—format renewal or reinvention, shifts in the trading strategy (in assortment, pricing, or communications, for example), or even a major change to the business model—the company faces a heightened risk of returning to a distressed situation.

One accessories manufacturer traditionally sold most of its products to distributors, which would then sell to multibrand retailers. The company also owned and operated a handful of concept stores as brand flagships. It had steered clear of e-commerce to avoid competing with its distributors and retail partners. However, an analysis of channel profitability and customer trends showed that the future sources of profitable growth were the online channel and owned concept stores. The company thus turned its channel strategy on its head. Execution of the new strategy was a critical element of a turnaround that has led to a fourfold rise in share price and TRS uplift of 190 percent in less than two years.

Stage 5: Make it stick

A successful retail turnaround often involves changes across hundreds of stores, brought to fruition by many thousands of frontline staff, which translates into a significant performance-management challenge. According to our research, the average C-level executive spends approximately 15 hours per month in performance reviews, compared with approximately 40 hours per month for a turnaround one.

One approach that works well in turnarounds is to establish a “chief restructuring officer” (CRO) role for a limited period, typically 9 to 18 months. The CRO, usually an external hire with extensive experience in distressed turnarounds, leads the turnaround office—a “control tower” for all turnaround initiatives—and is responsible for spurring a radical rethink of the company’s operating model, pushing managers to reexamine how things are done, and challenging their assumptions about what is possible. The most effective CROs engage all stakeholders early and continuously, and they motivate colleagues by telling the positive change story over and over again. As a change leader, the CRO should operate as an extension of the CEO, with the authority and credibility in the organization to make decisions (with the approval of the CEO). The CRO doesn’t replace line leaders, but rather supports the CEO in driving the transformation so that the day-to-day tasks of running the business are not neglected.

This level of central control may seem like overkill, but our experience shows that without it, different parts of the business can easily report delivery of “turnaround benefits” while the profit-and-loss statement stubbornly stays the same. Our research shows that turnarounds with strong governance are seven times more likely to succeed than those without it.

Times are indeed tough for retailers. But being in a distressed situation isn’t cause for despair. If retail leaders face the facts early, identify and address the root causes of their financial distress, take costs out quickly, and ensure disciplined execution, they can deliver—and rapidly move beyond—a turnaround.

To read more about issues critical to retailers and consumer-packaged-goods leaders globally, download McKinsey’s second issue of Perspectives on retail and consumer goods (PDF–3.7 MB).

About the authors

Peter Breuer is a director in McKinsey’s Cologne office; Thierry Elmalem and Chris Wigley are principals in the London office.

The authors would like to thank Graham Biggart and Agnes Krygier for their contributions to this article.

 Source: www.mckinsey.com

Earlier this year Dell’s first solar lab in the Western Cape was launched. This follows the success of the solar powered mobile classroom which Dell launched in Nigeria in July 2013, a concept aimed at providing increased opportunities for learning to students with little or no access to technology or the Internet. If you also wish to go solar and looking for a complete turn-key solution, learn more about Enlyten Energy.

The Dell Solar Lab was launched in collaboration with the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO), at their largest and oldest centre in Kensington, where it is strategically positioned to be of service to children from the underserved communities of Manenberg, Khayelitsha and the surrounding Kensington area. This investment follows Dell’s previous involvement with SHAWCO, having equipped both their Manenberg and Khayelitsha centres with fully functioning computer labs.

SHAWCO, a dynamic, innovative and passionate student-run NGO, was started in July 1943 by a University of Cape Town (UCT) medical student, who spent the vacation driving an ambulance to earn money to pay for his medical training. What started as a one-man initiative quickly grew into one of the largest student volunteer organisations.

SHAWCO’s initial areas of focus included youth development, provision of care for the elderly and the disabled. In 2008, SHAWCO introduced an educational component to their model which included providing Maths, Science, English and ICT tuition with the aim of getting children from these previously disadvantage communities into institutions of higher learning. SHAWCO’s aims and objectives were a perfect match for Dell which made partnering with them an easy decision.

The solar lab uses Dell’s unique, “classroom in a box” model, in which a standard shipping container is outfitted with solar panels that power 100 percent of the technology inside. The lab is built onsite and employs local contractors. The lab’s technology solution is comprised of a donated Dell Wyse shared computing system. One PC used by the teacher, networks to the 10 zero client workstations lining the sides of the container. All users access local Internet service paid for by Dell. The setup is highly efficient: each workstation requires just 3 watts to power, as opposed to 150 watts for a typical PC.

This setup also creates a highly collaborative digital learning environment, a new experience for students who had little to no prior exposure to technology. The Dell Wyse zero clients work with Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server software, which allows a teacher to share what is on her PC and monitor students’ activity. The students work both together and individually to create stories, PowerPoint presentations, videos and spreadsheets as part of their coursework – something they never would have been able to do prior to the investment.

Since the launch, 229 students and 150 SHAWCO community members have been able to reap the benefits that this innovative solar lab has to offer. Of the 229 students, 168 are female learners who believe that the lab now offers them unlimited opportunities to fulfilling their potential.

Overall, more than 400 students, 60% being female, have benefited from over 1200 hours of learning thanks to Dell’s investment of technology into SHAWCO in the last year.

To date over 20 Dell staff members have volunteered their skills and expertise to the students at SHAWCO, specifically with regards to the implementation and project management of the Solar Lab. Of these 20, 11 have been women staff members who have played a pivotal role in making sure the projects have run smoothly and acted as instrumental players in the further development of the worthwhile program.

Plans have just been announced to roll out an additional two solar labs in partnership with SHAWCO and their community centres in Manenberg and Khayelitsha. For solar panel installation in California based homes, visit :Valley Solar Pros.

The early bird catches the worm and the back-to-school (BTS) savvy mom avoids the queues by shopping early in the year.

Retailers are pushing BTS sales earlier than ever by encouraging their clientele to purchase stocks for the last two terms of the year and in preparation for the end of year rush – and before the New Year’s price increases.

Walmart already has a back-to-school web page for student fashions, backpacks, and other school gear, as well as another page featuring their back-to-college apparel and tech. Apple’s BTS promotional deals are expected to be announced any day and other retailers on the international markets are already sending out marketing emails that promote the idea that BTS is fine to buy early.

Why push BTS season so early? Most families have finite resources that they can spend on BTS stationery. By encouraging early planning by mom’s for an earlier start, it means consumers have more time to spread the spend in their tight budgets. Instead of a huge stationery outlay in December and January, parents are being encouraged to stock up early now and avoid the panic of BTS season. We all know that overwhelmed parents can make hasty and mostly nasty decisions – such as purchasing on price rather than quality – when pushed to start-of-school deadlines.

Practically, for the retailer too, it is cheaper and easier to send out an e-mail blast or put up a back-to-school web page than it is to rearrange shelves and create promotional sections inside multiple stores.

Just like Christmas, BTS season is starting earlier and earlier – perfect for those deals just too good for mom’s to pass up.

9 Ways To Deal With Difficult Employees

Nearly every manager I’ve ever consulted to or coached has told me about having at least one employee who’s not so great.  I’ve come to think of it as an almost inevitable part of the manager’s professional landscape: there’s generally that one (or more) employee who doesn’t perform well, or is difficult to deal with, or has a hard time getting along with others, or means well but just doesn’t ever quite do what’s expected, or….

And the unfortunate thing is, most managers get held hostage to these folks, spending a disproportionate amount of time, thought and emotional energy on them. Often hovering on the verge of letting them go for years, but never quite being able (for a variety of reasons) to pull the trigger.

Here, then, are nine things that excellent managers do when confronted with a difficult employee – things that keep them from getting sucked into an endless vortex of ineffectiveness and frustration:

Listen.  Often, when an employee is difficult we stop paying attention to what’s actually going on. We’re irritated, it seems hopeless, and we’ve already decided what we think about the employee – so we just turn our attention to other things, out of a combination of avoidance and self-protection.  But the best managers get very attentive when someone’s not doing well.  They know their best shot at improving the situation lies in having the clearest possible understanding of the situation – including knowing the tough employee’s point of view.  An added bonus: in some cases, simply listening can save the day.  You may hear about a real problem that’s not the employee’s fault that you can solve; the tough employee may start acting very differently once he or she feels heard; you may discover legitimate issues he or she has that need to be addressed.

Give clear, behavioral feedback. Most managers will spend months, even years, complaining about poor employees… and not ever giving them actual feedback about what they need to be doing differently.  Yes, giving tough feedback is one of the most uncomfortable things a manager has to do.  But great managers learn to do to it reasonably well, and then they do it.  Here’s a post where I outline the approach we teach. This approach does two key things: lowers the other person’s defensiveness, and gives them the specific information they need in order to improve.  Whatever approach you use, make sure it does these two things.

Document. Whenever you’re having significant problems with an employee, WRITE DOWN THE KEY POINTS.  I can’t stress this strongly enough.  Dozens of times I’ve had managers tell me that they couldn’t let a difficult employee go because they had no record of his or her bad behavior. And all too often this lack of documentation arises out of misplaced hopefulness; that they didn’t want to be ‘too negative’ about the employee (As if it would all magically go away if they didn’t write it down).  Good managers know that documentation isn’t negative – it’s prudent.  Remember, if you’re able to solve the problem, you can just breathe a sigh of relief and put your documentation in the back of the drawer.

Be consistent. If you say you’re not OK with a behavior, don’t sometimes be OK with it.  Employees look to see what you do more than what you say.  If, for instance, you tell employees that it’s critical they submit a certain report by a certain time, and then you’re sometimes upset and sometimes not upset when they don’t do it…the less-good employees generally won’t do it. Pick your shots – only set standards you’re actually willing to hold to – and then hold to them.

Set consequences if things don’t change. If things still aren’t improving at this point, good managers get specific.  They say some version of, “I still believe you can turn this around.  Here’s what turning it around would look like.  If I don’t see that behavior by x date, here’s what will happen” (e.g., “you’ll be let go,” or “ you’ll be put on warning,” or “you won’t be eligible for a promotion” – some substantive negative consequence.) If problem employees don’t believe their behavior will have any real negative impact on them – why would they change?

Work through the company’s processes.  Good managers hold out hope for improvement until the point when they actually decide to let the person go. AND they make sure they’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s that will allow them to fire the person if it comes to that.  If you’re at this point in your efforts to address the situation, you ought to be having very clear conversations with HR so that you know (and are doing) exactly what you need to do to clear the path to termination, if that turns out to be necessary.

Don’t poison the well. All too often, poor managers substitute bad-mouthing the problem employee to all and sundry rather than taking the steps I’ve outlined above.  No matter how difficult an employee may be, good managers don’t trash- talk to other employees. It creates an environment of distrust and back-stabbing, it pollutes others’ perception of the person, and it makes you look weak and unprofessional.  Just don’t do it.

Manage your self-talk.  Throughout this process, make sure your self-talk is neither unhelpfully positive nor unhelpfully negative.  Thinking to yourself, “This guy’s an idiot and will never change,” isn’t useful, nor is thinking, “Everything will turn out fine, he’s great, there’s no problem.” Good managers take a fair witness stance, making sure that what they say to themselves about the situation is as accurate as possible. For example, “His behavior is creating real problems for the team. I’m doing what I can to support him to change.  If he does, great, and if he doesn’t, I’ll do what I’ve said I’ll do.”

Be courageous.  Firing someone is the hardest thing a manager has to do.  If it gets to that point, do it right. Don’t make excuses, don’t put it off, don’t make someone else do it.  The best managers do the tough things impeccably. And if – hallelujah – things turn around, be courageous enough to accept that; sometimes being proved wrong when we think someone’s not salvageable is almost as hard as being proved right.

If you learn to use these ‘good manager’ approaches  when you have a difficult employee, then no matter how things turn out, you’ll end up knowing that you’ve done your best in a tough situation.  And that may be the best stress reducer of all.

 

Check out Erika Andersen’s latest book, Leading So People Will Followand discover how to be a followable leader. Booklist called it “a book to read more than once and to consult many times.”

Source: www.forbes.com

 

Xerox has retained the top position in worldwide managed print services (MPS) for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new report by analyst research group Quocirca.

 

As the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management, Xerox helps companies optimize their printing infrastructure with MPS, and streamlines their communication and business processes to grow revenue, reduce costs and operate more efficiently.

The report says Xerox’s leadership position in a competitive marketplace is a result of diverse strengths, including continued development and investment in its mature MPS portfolio; the depth and scale of its service offering, which spans office printing, production printing, and IT and business process services; and its “deepened” broad range of assessment services.

 

“Xerox has long-established, strong credentials in the MPS market,” said Louella Fernandes, associate director, Quocirca. “The strengthening of its software portfolio, particularly around its ConnectKey and workflow automation offerings, should help it drive more synergies between its content management and MPS offerings.”

 

The report, which offers an independent evaluation of providers, shows a marketplace continuing to evolve beyond core MPS services such as device consolidation toward driving improved business efficiency around paper-based processes.

 

“As information in the enterprise continues to grow exponentially – in both paper and electronic form – so does the challenge to access and manage it,” said Don Dixon, senior vice president, Global Document Outsourcing, Xerox. “Quocirca’s report acknowledges our ability to deliver efficiency gains through new services. Our enhancements help companies of all sizes manage information demands more effectively so they can focus on their core business.”

 

As the long-time MPS market leader, Xerox combines technology and document management expertise with business process and IT outsourcing capabilities to address the “always-on” workplace and associated content explosion, and the impact on business productivity.

 

About Xerox

Since the invention of Xerography more than 75 years ago, the people of Xerox (NYSE: XRX) have helped businesses simplify the way work gets done. Today, we are the global leader in business process and document management, helping organizations of any size be more efficient so they can focus on their real business. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., we have more than 140,000 Xerox employees and do business in more than 180 countries, providing business services, printing equipment and software for commercial and government organizations. Learn more at www.xerox.com.

 

About Bytes Document Solutions

Bytes Document Solutions, a division of the Bytes Technology Group, is Africa’s leading document management technology and solutions company, offering a comprehensive range of products and services through three independent business units: Xerox, LaserCom and NOR Paper.  A wholly-owned division of JSE-listed Altron, Bytes Document Solutions is the authorised Xerox distributor in 26 sub-Saharan countries, and has an annual turnover of more than R2 billion. In 2014, the company celebrates two important milestones: Xerox’s 50th year in South Africa, as well as the invention of xerography, the basis of the most widely used document-copying machines, which was developed by Xerox 75 years ago. www.xerox.co.za

 

Wi-Fi payphones?

THE old public payphone may soon regain its lost lustre if Telkom decides to turn the relic of the recent past into Wi-Fi hotspots.


The move could see Telkom revive its public payphone from its technologically induced ‘coma’ brought about by the popularity of the cellphone.

The coin operated payphone was first installed in 1889 at the Hartford Bank in Hartford, Connecticut by the Southern New England Telephone Co.  The coin mechanism was invented by William Gray. He subsequently founded the Telephone Pay Station Co. in 1891. The “pre-pay” phone debuted in Chicago in 1898.

After being in service for more than 125 years – as the best communication tool nogal – payphones had in recent years become redundant, albeit as a result of new mobile technology. 

However, as things stand the payphone may just get another lease of life – a direct benefit of the convergence of technologies.

This is because Telkom is contemplating turning its thousands of public payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots.

Such a move would bring these payphones into the internet age – transforming the relics of the 20th century communication into next-generation broadband hubs.

Telkom boss Sipho Maseko says: “We are looking at a number of options. One of them is to change the public payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots.”

In 2003, Telkom had 179 000 payphones located in municipalities, prisons, petrol stations, shopping malls, taxi stands, airports, bus stops and train stations. 

In recent years the number of Telkom public payphones has been reduced to 79 000.

If the plan is implemented these payphones could help Telkom create Africa’s biggest Wi-Fi network, if not the biggest in the world.

Admittedly, such a development would not be the first in the world.

In 2013, City of New York asked designers to re-imagine the city’s decrepit payphones as internet-flinging, ad-spitting future machines, according to Gizmodo.

“For years, the question was, ‘What to do with payphones?’ and now we have an answer,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

“By using a historic part of New York’s street fabric, we can significantly enhance public availability of increasingly-vital broadband access, invite new and innovative digital services, and increase revenue to the city – all at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.”

“The digital age holds great potential to better deliver services, and by re-imagining 20th century payphones as 21st century connection points, we’re making broadband access more equitable and accessible to every New Yorker,” said counsel to the mayor Maya Wiley.

“A network of 7 000 free Wi-Fi hotspots at payphone locations around town will significantly improve the tech quality of life for New Yorkers and visitors alike, while maintaining the option for voice calls when needed, including 911,” Wiley correctly surmised at the time.

Telkom 79 000 public payphones scattered around the country could create an instant massive network, which could help provide broadband access to millions of South Africans.

Twitter users were excited by the news that Telkom may turn public payphones into Wi-Fi hotspot when it broke on Friday.  Here are some of the tweets:

* “WTF are they waiting for,” commented @IG: TumzaFlyingSpur.
*  Tharman Naidoo, said: “Now shall we go to a call box and BBM for free.”
* @PuleOfficial added “AWESOME! I like! Best idea of all time!”
* @Peliwe_M said: “How Public Pay Phones Got Their Groove Back…haven’t seen/noticed one in years.”

Considering these positive reactions on social media, Telkom’s Maseko is best advised to quickly formalise the option and invite bidders for the design to transform these relics of 20th century into Wi-Fi hotspots.

This could also be an opportunity for small businesses to operate the Wi-Fi hotspots on behalf of Telkom – that is if the company is not interested in running them. It also provides an opportunity for new jobs.

And of course Telkom could generate much needed revenue from the phone cubicles, while providing more broadband access all over the country.

By Gugu Lourie – Fin24

*Gugu Lourie is a former correspondent for Thomson Reuters, Business Report, Finweek magazine and Fin24 (writing a blog titled ‘Googled’). He is the editor of techfinancials.co.za. Views expressed are his own. Follow him on #twitter @LourieGugu

 

As a marketer, whether you are on the design side of the spectrum or on the conceptualisation part of the team, there are times when it becomes unavoidable for you to be drawn into a print-based campaign or, at very least, you work on a campaign which has a print element.

 

How do you decide which printer is best going to be able to meet your production demands? For many companies they have a printer of choice. One printer they turn to for everything. A printer which has always – and will always – handle all of their printing requirements. Hopefully! The printing industry is under pressure and many companies are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their doors open.

 

Here is a question for those agencies and marketers who continually use the same printer for everything. Does your printer handle everything or does he produce everything? There is a difference. While your printer may ‘handle’ everything, it is very unlikely that he can produce everything. Consider all your printed requirements. Billboards, flyers, business cards, brochures, maybe even packaging elements. There are a plethora of items which you can have printed. While ‘your’ printer may be able to have some of these items printed he is certainly not handling everything himself. If you expand the gamut of print to include such things as embroidery, promotional items with a printed element or a poster, how much of this can your printer actually produce?

 

It is all very well that your printer outsources some of these elements, but you must also bear in mind that for every element which he outsources, there is a respective loss of control, another player in the process, which extends the value chain and also adds to the blame chain if something goes wrong. With each added player in the process the cost goes up, whether you realise it or not. So, what you have to do is balance the convenience of working with a single printer to finding the right printers for your different and varied requirements.

 

You can obviously do your own investigations, search websites, search the yellow pages, make numerous phone calls, trust that what you are being told is factual and then go through the process of putting the various suppliers to the test.

 

There is another and easier alternative. A simple and easy to use directory, both in printed and interactive online formats allows companies searching for printers to find suitable and qualified printers to handle their specific needs. Qualified refers to the fact that printers, or more correctly speaking, suppliers list only the services that they can perform in-house. The SA Print Directory is the only directory of its kind in South Africa.

 

The directory is designed and sorted according to jobs rather than the more technical printing terms which printers may be inclined to use. Therefore, if you are looking for business cards for example, only a list of printers who are prepared to directly print your business cards will be listed. It is made as simple as possible for people who do not understand all the technical terms.

 

Products are organised into over 160 categories allowing users of the directory or website to find exactly what they are looking for. However, the functionality of the directory does not end there. From within the website, you can search for your chosen products and then view information on specific printers or service providers. In addition, you can select to make contact with specific service providers by e-mail directly from the website. Alternatively, you can select to contact all the service providers within a specific category and receive multiple contacts from a single e-mail.

 

For you as the client, what this means is that with one e-mail – per product – you can expect to receive multiple contacts dedicated to the products you require. While the directory cannot offer the convenience of using one printer or supplier for all your printing requirements, what it does do is to ensure that you only deal with qualified suppliers. You can also decide whether or not you want to deal with a specific printer.

 

Coming back to the beginning of the article, as a marketer the most important element to you on any campaign is measurability. So, why should you use a directory when you have no idea of its efficacy? In order to put your mind at ease, here are a few statistics regarding the SA Print Directory.

 

The directory is now entering its third year and has seen year-on-year growth with each release of the directory. The growth has been both in terms of the number of printers and service providers listed, as well as in the number of categories. Not only that, but the number of views on the specific listings has also grown. At the end of its first year a little over 400 000 views were received on the website. At the end of its second year that number has risen to more than 2 million views with requests for quotes running into the thousands.

 

The next step is the development of a new website for the directory offering more interactivity, greater security and increased functionality. This means that your experience of looking for the right service providers will be simpler and easier.

 

The SA Print Directory has been built on the experience of the team at Sentient Publishing following a close association with the printing industry for over 15 years and personal relationships in the industry of the team amounting to almost 100 years. The SA Print Directory is the leading directory of local printers. Have a look for yourself, visit www.saprintdirectory.co.za 

The Daddy’s World Group has brought you game-changing hotel  concepts and cash-saving daily deals and now they have turned their attention to supporting entrepreneurs through a collaborative approach to growing small businesses in Cape Town.

 

In keeping with their design-led philosophy;  new co-working space, Daddy.O, ticks all the boxes for freelancers, start-ups, consultants, organic teams, movers and shakers. Located in Woodstock’s iconic Old Biscuit Mill (also developed by the owners of Daddy’s World ), Daddy.O was given life by a collaborative design effort between leading Cape Town designers Tracy Lynch, Haldane Martin, Kim Stern and Marco Simal and is now a humming office hub with desks (as well as café tables and loungey chairs) and a boardroom to rent by the hour, day or month. A number of Cape Town companies (such as Virgin SA and Elle magazine) have dived in and used the Daddy.O boardroom for their off-site creative strategy sessions already.

The simple but functional design approach is infused with school room references; from the green chalkboarded boardroom walls (which you can write on) to the co-space’s slogan Work Hard, Play Nice – not to mention the designer refresh on the old metal frame school desk.

Whilst all users get free local-roast coffee and a bundle of super-fast Wi-Fi; monthly Daddy.O members also gain a pack of value-adds, which include a yearly night at both Daddy Long Legs and Old Mac Daddy hotels, priority and discounts on events and a profile on the Daddy.O website. Users of Daddy.O can also work with crowdfunding partner Thundafund to generate capital for new products and ideas.

Members also get 20% off all Daddy’s Dragon’s activities. Daddy’s Dragons is the group’s incubator and hosts courses and workshops to help entrepreneurs hone their business ideas, fine tune their marketing strategy and make lasting business connections. For projects with the right combination of vision, skills and commitment there is also an opportunity to incubate a business in partnership with the innovative founders and owners of Daddy’s World and Daddy O.

Says Daddy’s World co-founder, Jody Aufrichtig; “Business is our passion, as a group, we have taken lots of risks, tried some crazy new things and learnt some important lessons; the most important one being that entrepreneurs need a network of support. With Daddy.O, we are not only providing a physical space to work in, we are also creating a place to bounce ideas, develop good business relationships and tap into the Daddy knowledge-base. We want to build success – to fuel new businesses, create jobs and change our environment. We are very excited about sharing our advice and sharpening the talents of some brave new business leaders.”

Aufrichtig continues; “For us work should be fun, otherwise what’s the point in doing it?”

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