Tag: business

By Michael Holder for BusinessGreen

Upcyclers turn old desks, chairs, and carpets into new office furniture, saving money and delivering environmental benefits.

Making sure products and materials can be used again – rather than going to waste – is good for for both businesses and the environment. That is the premise that underpins the concept of the “circular economy”, an emerging sector the government estimates could deliver £23-billionn a year of benefits to UK businesses if resources were used more efficiently.

For example, one third of our office furniture – 300 tonnes per day – ends up in landfill.

Firms such as Rype Office create sustainable furniture from items that would otherwise get thrown away and is employing ‘upcyclers’ across its growing business to help turn the circular economy vision into a reality.

Source: IOL/Bloomberg

The business cycle in South Africa, where the economy entered its first recession in almost a decade in the second quarter, is in its longest downward phase since records started in 1945.

It entered a 58th straight month of declines in September, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The regulator monitors about 200 indicators representing economic processes such as production, sales, employment and prices to determine the direction of the trend.

Source: August Free Press

There are many goods and services that are vital to businesses and one of the key ones is stationery. It is important for businesses of all sizes to be able to access the stationery products and printing services they need, as without access to the necessary stationery it can be difficult to maintain a professional image and difficult to operate on a day to day basis.

Fortunately, there are various options available when it comes to stationery providers, which makes it easier for businesses to find the right provider for their needs. There are many important factors that need to be considered when it comes to selecting the most suitable stationery for your business, and the one you choose can have a big impact both in terms of business finances and business operations.

How to make your selection
So, what do you need to consider when it comes to selecting the right stationer for your business? Well, there are a number of different factors that you need to take into account before you make your choice. Selecting the right provider can make a difference to the professional image of your company, to the outgoing costs you are faced with, and to the service you receive when it comes to your stationery deliveries and processes.

There are all sorts of products and services you can get from the right stationery and printing services provider. This includes everything from a simple rubber stamp through to high quality, low cost posters printing. Finding a stationer that offers a wide variety of services and products will make life far easier for you because it means you can get all the stationery and related services you need from the same place rather than having to shop around each time. This will save you time, hassle, and inconvenience, which means you can get on with running your business rather than getting tied up with stationery ordering.

Another thing that is very important for most businesses is finding a provider that offers affordability. All businesses have to be careful about their budgets and spending these days and without finding a competitive provider you could end up paying way over the odds for your stationery and services. You therefore need to make sure you check the cost of the services and that you find a provider that offers good deals and affordable pricing.

The service levels you receive are also important, as you need to ensure you get reliability and timely deliveries of your stationery. For businesses, things can grind to a halt when stationery runs out so you need to be able to get the items you need when you need them. Finding a provider that has a reputation for solid service and reliability will help you to benefit from peace of mind as well as reduce the risk of operations being affected. In addition, it means you can look forward to an excellent level of customer service from your provider.

It’s comply or die for SA’s SMEs

By Tracy Bolton, director: General Business at SAP Africa

On 25 May this year, a new piece of legislation came into effect in Europe that could have severe consequences for non-compliant South African businesses. The General Data Protection Regulation – or GDPR for short – is a regulation under European Union law that aims to give control over personal data back to EU citizens.

The regulation applies to any organisation that collects or processes data from EU citizens, even when that citizen or organisation is based outside the EU. The European Commission defines personal data as “any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life”. This includes names, home addresses, photos, email addresses, bank details, social media posts, medical information, or even a computer’s IP address.

The fines for non-compliance are severe and could spell the end of a business practically overnight: the maximum fine is as much as €20-million, or nearly R300-million. What’s more, the regulation is far-reaching: any company with an EU citizen among its workforce, or a customer based in the EU, or even if only one of the subscribers to a company newsletter is based in the EU, that company can be held liable under GDPR. Few if any mid-sized South African firms could afford such a steep sanction, and legacy issues compound problems around compliance, increasing their risk and potential liability.

In response, technology firms are taking unprecedented steps to ensure they and their customers remain within the confines of the new regulation, especially considering the volume of trade and collaboration between African countries and their European counterparts.

Legacy processes add complexity to compliance
Most mid-sized firms have deliberately or inadvertently built up internal siloes related to how customer, business and other operational data is stored. For example, in a typical retailer’s marketing department, the data storage systems that processes newsletter subscriptions via email may be entirely removed from and non-integrated to the WhatsApp number where much of the customer communication takes place. This means a customer that unsubscribes to a newsletter via WhatsApp may still receive the newsletter until such a time as the retailer can integrate the two sets of data.

As GDPR comes into effect, companies will not only stand liable for fines should the above scenario play out, but they need to be able to provide customers with complete clarity on how their data is stored and managed at any point in time. Any costs incurred in the process of showing how customer data is stored is also for the company’s own account, which adds not only complexity to standard business processes but also potentially additional costs.
Considering the prevailing trust deficit between consumers and brands, the potential of being exposed for treating confidential customer data poorly is immense. Once trust is breached, affected customers are unlikely to engage with the brand again, and will leave a searchable and public trail of comments on social media for all to see. The recent case of Facebook – which now faces a fine of as much as $2-trillion – has brought this to the forefront of consumer consciousness, but other examples of poor customer data management abound.

On the basis of consent
For South African businesses, however, new technology tools could play an invaluable role in mitigating risks associated with GDPR and its South African counterpart, POPI. A recent investment by SAP into Consent is simplifying the business processes associates with creating trusted digital experiences within the limitations of GDPR and POPI compliance.

Part of the SAP Hybris suite of applications, Consent enables SMEs to centrally manage customer preferences and consent settings throughout their full lifecycle, while putting them in control of their own data. Consent enables companies to be transparent, gain loyal customers and protect their business from costly fines as well as potentially disruptive business processes related to proving to customers how their data is being stored and managed.
In line with modern business demands, Consent is also provided in the cloud, making it quick to implement and easy to prove ROI. Every time a policy changes, customers can receive an automated notification that they actively accept, with a record of such forms of consent stored centrally to allow SMEs to quickly and accurately prove responsible customer data management.

Whether you run an online retailer with customers around the world, or a news website where a European citizen may occasionally offer a comment on an article, GDPR holds inherent risks to your business. But with the correct technology tool, a potential R300m liability can be transformed into a competitive business advantage that furthers the cause of trusted and trustworthy digital customer experiences.
Seems an easy choice, no?

Property-related and business interruption losses as a result of fire and weather catastrophes have increased dramatically in South Africa, with 2017 having the highest underwriting losses on record.

Insurers incurred material underwriting losses driven by major natural catastrophes including the Knysna bush fires, the Transnet Rossburgh warehouse fire (the single largest fire loss) in Durban, a large hexane plant fire, a tornado in Gauteng and multiple heavy rainfall, hail and flooding events in Gauteng and KZN.

Reinsurers no longer regard South Africa as a low catastrophe risk region due to the high frequency of large loss events, resulting in adjustments and price increases.

“Given that the principle of insurance is that the losses of the few are paid for by the many, and the losses of the few have been greater than the total premium collected, insurers have had to respond by increasing premiums for all clients – even those with no claims at all,” says Clive Boyd of Aon South Africa, insurance brokers and risk consultants.

Insurers are also reviewing the types of risks they are prepared to take on, paying particular attention to high-hazard industries such as paint, plastics, wood, packaging, refrigeration, recycling and warehousing.

“Insurers are far more stringent when taking on risks, and clients will need to demonstrate their commitment to risk mitigation and prevention. In terms of fire risks, insurers may make the installation of Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau (ASIB) approved sprinkler systems mandatory, and require that, in the event of a fire, the insured must prove that valid electrical and occupancy certificates had been obtained and that the premises was SANS 10400 compliant. In the absence of any of these, a fire-related claim can be rejected in its entirety, so the importance of managing compliance with fire-risk management requirements cannot be emphasised enough,” explains Boyd.

Risk management is another focal point for insurers. In the absence of a demonstrable risk management process, a business could find that an insurer may opt not to renew cover if it believes the risks are uninsurable. In order for a risk to be underwritten, there must be a survey report on file, indicating that the risk meets minimum underwriting guidelines and that the insured has adopted and implemented the risk control recommendations made in the report.

“After a decade of declining rates and profitability for insurers, battered by consecutive years of major losses due to natural catastrophes, it took a particularly bad year in 2017 to trigger the inevitable hardening of rates that 2018 is continuing to experience,” says Boyd.

“In order to remain insurable, risk managers need to review their formal risk management and audit programmes, ensuring that they comply with all national building regulations, installing ASIB approved sprinkler installations where recommended and adhering to risk control requirements as set out in underwriting survey reports. Mitigating fire risks requires close collaboration between insurers, risk managers and brokers to ensure that the current risk management programmes are still compliant with a significantly more stringent underwriting process. Failure to comply with the statutory requirements and codes of practice for fire protection can leave businesses in severe financial crisis and with potential legal ramifications.

Ultimately, reviewing such programmes is a task best undertaken with a professional broker who will work with the client to ensure that the fire prevention strategy is linked to an insurance program that fully addresses the needs of the business. With the assistance of professional partners, Aon assists clients with practical knowledge of building codes, fire codes as promoted by various specialist bodies, as well as knowledge of construction materials, manufacturing processes and storage practices and the relevant hazards involved therein. By linking this to an aligned insurance program that covers virtually all the ‘what if’ scenarios of not only the physical damage but the knock-on implications for business continuity, clients get to experience the real value of a comprehensive fire risk analysis and the support of a professional and experienced broker at their side to guide them through the process.

Stock losses, fraud not top-of-mind in SA

South African businesses need a different mindset to address ongoing stock losses and fraud.

In the absence of a “proper” risk mitigation plan and loss control blueprint, South African business owners will never really address the critical levels of theft and fraud impacting on our economy, according to commercial investigator and international risk consultant, Kyle Condon (Managing Director at D&K Management Consultants).

“Experience has taught me that trust and effective loss control do not go together. We live in a society that has criminal presence constantly lurking around us. Old style security measures and trusting of everybody have left businesses open to losses like an open wound exposed to a sewer. Employees need to be watched continuously and loss control tactics need to be revised to accommodate this,” says Condon.

With many businesses operating on shoe-string budgets, security is often one of the first things to go. Ironically, says Condon; “it should be one of the portfolios that get additional budget assistance. When, companies cut security, those employees that were always dissuaded from going through with criminal action often go over the edge and ‘raid the cookie jar’.”

While South Africa has one of the most corrupt governments sketched on the political portrait, expecting every employee to behave in a moral honest way is far from realistic. We see what our leaders do and follow suit.

Sadly, most companies choose to ignore this red flag and continue to fool themselves into believing that the presence of a uniformed security officer or two is adequate to prevent and deal with internal criminal activity. Condon believes that “old school” security is a thing of the past. “It is time we accept that our businesses, like our homes, require proper defences,” states Condon.

So, what exactly does this mean?

“Our business sector has major structural employment weaknesses, due largely to political pressures, window-dressed appointments and fear of union retribution, this has led to a breakdown of strong policies and procedures that existed in the past. Many managers are just too afraid to confront the issues or speak out in fear of being branded or painted with the race brush. And, as a result, policies and zero tolerance are eroded. Unions have gained a lot of power, often holding companies to “ransom” when it comes to enforcing strong security measures. Polygraphs, for example, are always declined by Union reps, searching procedures get labelled as an invasion of one’s privacy, etc. Old school security methods have been watered down to create a mere ‘illusion of loss control’,” he says.

Modern day loss control and security plans must include the following key concepts:

• Internal investigation specialists (undercover agents) deployed as, I like to say, ‘modern day spies’.
• Quarterly sweeping and debugging of executive offices and meeting rooms.
• Strike action plans, designed specifically for the individual company and its employees to provide proper Duty of Care during strike action.
• Alignment with a reputable forensic investigator or company who understands the methods, methodology and principles of fraud and financial crimes, in the workplace.
• Thorough pre-employment screening of new candidates, including checking of criminal records through fingerprinting.
• A steadfast CCTV viewing plan conducted off site by an independent viewer, providing monthly viewing reports covering all aspects of risky behaviour, suspicious actions and overall health and safety concerns.
• Travel risk reports, for employees traveling to potentially hostile environments both locally and internationally. This would include arranging VIP protection, where needed.
• Annual security surveys to address all shortcomings of the physical security measures of the business.
• Due diligence must become part and parcel of the sales teams’ portfolios, before stock or material leaves for suspicious clients an investigation unit should first check out that all is above-board, and that you are not being scammed.
• Handing over the time consuming and demanding security portfolio to a dedicated and qualified loss control manager.

“I do not agree with companies splitting up the security portfolio and contracting various players for various things. Managing this portfolio is a job that requires full time participation. This is exactly what D&K Management Consultants does for its clients. We provide the correct expertise in one unique portfolio designed around modern-day risk,” says Condon.

“We are in many ways a country at war with itself, and business is not spared any of the risks that a ‘war’ environment brings. Therefore, defending your company requires a modern day ‘warfare’ approach. Intelligence, logic, expertise and strategy have replaced uniforms, guns and electric fences to a large extent”, Condon says, as he smiles.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has launched a new stand-alone app, called WhatsApp Business, designed to help small businesses easily connect with their customers, the company announced on Thursday.

WhatsApp Business can be downloaded on the Google Play Store in select markets including the US, UK, Indonesia, Italy, and Mexico, and will roll out worldwide in the coming weeks. Facebook has not yet stated when the app will be available on iOS.

The app adds several new features including verified business profiles, smart messaging tools like quick replies, greeting messages and away messages, and messaging metrics. As of now, WhatsApp Business is aimed at smaller companies, but it plans to add an enterprise solution geared toward larger businesses, like airlines and banks, with a global customer base. The move to launch an app dedicated to businesses represents the fruition of several months of work by Facebook to monetize WhatsApp.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) communication via messaging apps is a budding trend, and Facebook wants to be at the center of it.Having a presence on chat apps is more important than ever for businesses.

Already, more than half of consumers would rather message a business than call customer service, according to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielson. Here’s why WhatsApp is poised to lead the evolution of B2C interactions:

WhatsApp has a massive global reach. WhatsApp’s global user base of 1.3 billion monthly active users makes the chat app an ideal ground for Facebook to establish a footprint in the B2C space.

WhatsApp is also the second most used messaging app globally, and the leading messaging app in a majority of emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Russia as well as in developed markets like the UK, Spain, and Germany. In India, for instance, consumers spent over 36 billion hours on WhatsApp in 2017.

Already, consumers worldwide use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses.Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil have said WhatsApp helps to facilitate B2C communication and, as a result, grow their businesses’ reach.

WhatsApp is entering an increasingly competitive space. Facebook Messenger, Apple, WeChat, and Skype are all striving to be the go-to interface for B2C interaction.

For instance, Apple is introducing an update to iMessage that includes iOS Business Chat, a “powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages,” according to Apple. Meanwhile, WhatsApp will go up against WeChat, which already hosts 10 million official business accounts for WeChat’s 980 million monthly active users to interact with.

To receive stories like this one directly to your inbox every morning, sign up for the Apps and Platforms Briefing newsletter. Click here to learn more about how you can gain risk-free access today.

By Rayna Hollander for Business Insider

Starting your own business? Here’s some advice

Here’s the irony: it’s never been easier to start a business, which is why it’s never been harder to start a business.

In the “old days”, when a big company had 5 00 staff, it had 5 000 horsepower which is why back then, big companies and governments were the only entities that could get the big jobs done and move the world forward. But thanks to digitisation, the world has changed drastically in the last decade or two. Now, a small company of 10 bright people equipped with the enabling technology become an army that has the equivalent 5 000 horsepower.

This is why starting a business has never been more alluring. Small groups of people can disrupt massive industries just like Uber and Airbnb did to their respective industries. The really big problem for most established industries is that it’s hard to see where new competition is coming from. The entire taxi industry could never have predicted that two entrepreneurs and a few software engineers could change their lives forever.

Things are heating up

For the first time in the world, you can impact the world from your bedroom while chilling in your underpants. That said, big companies aren’t standing still and they are equally using the same technology to ring out efficiencies in their businesses. I believe we are at the point where we will see technology replace people in big companies at an unprecedented rate.

A small example of this is Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor. Just two years ago, you actually bought your movie tickets from a human being at the ticket kiosk. The other night, I went to the movies and counted a total of three staff working. All tickets and refreshments were bought using a tablet at the front desk. The only people working were the ones pouring my Slush Puppy and dishing my popcorn for me.

With this in mind, being an entrepreneur is a great idea with just one caveat: the easier it gets to become an entrepreneur, the more other people are going to do it. Competition drives innovation which means it will get harder and harder for startups to succeed unless they are absolutely excellent. With this in mind, the following advice is critical to you starting a business:

  • You have to be absolutely passionate about the business you want to start, but your business also has to also solve a big problem for society (there must be an appropriate market for what you want to do).
  • Conscious capitalism is the way forward. Doing the right thing isn’t a nice to have anymore. It’s the only way to do business.
  • You have to have the energy of a 1 000 men when you start because every little detail becomes your responsibility.
  • That said, you have to become a master of technology so that you can scale your business. Technology enables small groups of people to act like an army. The days of linear improvement won’t do.
  • You have to become forever educated because the world is changing so fast and you need to know what’s going on in order to understand how approaching trends will affect your business. YouTube, daily reading and podcasts: informal education is key.
  • Finally, play the long game. Create a 30-year plan and work backward. Chase excellence and not money. Money is the result of doing something well. When you put this all together, you have a sustainable business.

By Mark Sham, founder and CEO of Suits & Sneakers and Impello incubation hub

How businesses contribute to SA

A report by Quantec Research, a leading South African economic consultancy, on Monday revealed the significant contribution made by South African business to the wealth of the country. The report notes, amongst other things, the significant contribution of business to the South African economy.

The study was commissioned earlier this year by Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) to better understand the national footprint of its membership. Quantec Research was asked to conduct empirical research on the scope and magnitude of BLSA’s members’ activities and their contribution to the economy.

The study revealed several striking findings over the role of business in society; business is the most significant direct contributor to the South African economy. The direct output created by BLSA members was R1.9 trillion in 2016; 1.2 times the value of total budgeted expenditure by government in 2016.

Nearly R1 trillion in expenditure was paid to suppliers, enabling them to employ people, pay taxes, purchase supplies and make investments. BLSA collectively received 34.4 points out of 40 for black enterprise development as prescribed by BEE Codes.

Business employs 6.9 times the number of public sector employees. BLSA members themselves employ 1.29 million people, with another 1.97 million jobs supported in the supply chain. 596,719 people are dependent on BLSA employees. The 57 member companies in the study contribute 23.5% of total private sector employment, and pay full-time and part-time employees just under R2 trillion.

Business contributes to the public sector and supports the most important institutions of state through taxation. Taxation to government from BLSA members alone amounted to over R431 billion in 2016, 35.9% of total taxes collected. That’s the equivalent of more than one million teacher’s salaries, or almost two million police officers, or almost 1.5 million low-cost housing units.

Bonang Mohale, Chief Executive of BLSA, commenting on the findings of the report said: “This report confirms that business is a vibrant part of South African economy and society and a significant national asset. The footprint of BLSA’s members alone is notable – often bigger than that of Government itself. It’s a reminder that business touches every part of South African life and has a positive role and voice to play in the success of the nation.”

Source: IOL 

Digital transformation: why should you care?

Digital transformation is more than a mere buzzword. Modern businesses must evolve as the digital age continues to overtake lives, both personally and professionally. To maintain the capability to leverage intricate market changes, businesses must undergo an in-depth metamorphosis.

This digital transformation must bring the business and its organisational activities in line with the fourth industrial revolution and all of the opportunities it holds. According to iScoop’s online guide to digital business transformation, digital transformation brings business processes, competencies and models up-to-date, to empower the organisation to adjust to changes and embrace the “opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritised way, with present and future shifts in mind.” This profound transformation requires an awareness of the latest innovations across a variety of key processes and industry sectors – but it also requires a real interaction with new technology, delivering an understanding that can come only from personal experience.

This is the theme of the Infor Next 2017 conference, to be held at Montecasino, Fourways, on the 21st of September. With key sessions led by Infor global experts, digital transformation, its importance, and its relevance in South Africa will be unpacked, offering leading-edge insights. “In this glorious world of innovation and constant development, true transformation is required to ensure the enterprise workplace remains competitive. This dovetails with the understanding of how to maximise value in the cloud,” says Tarik Taman, Infor’s Vice President and General Manager: Sales for India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA).

“Attend Infor Next Johannesburg to experience how innovative, beautiful applications are being designed for progress, transforming the way people work.” By employing user-centric development, organisations are empowered to dive deeper into solutions to solve high-value, real-world challenges and expand overall proficiency. “By honing the techniques needed to aid organisation-wide digital transformation, key education, strategic direction, and the latest innovations in enterprise systems are leveraged,” adds Taman.

“At Infor Next 2017, we’ll bring to life both innovation and technology to address specific industry needs by extending existing solutions to improve productivity and lower costs.”

Topics under discussion at the event include a regional overview, a glimpse into Infor’s future plans, and a comprehensive view of the value of Infor CloudSuite, the pivotal elements to talent transformation and the power of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). From social collaboration at work to cloud in the public sector, healthcare, manufacturing and hospitality, expert knowledge will be shared, driving greater digital transformation in every industry. The event will also highlight the Infor Education Alliance Programme (EAP), which delivers next-generation tools for future leaders, and works with local universities in South Africa. Participants in the programme get access to specialised software packages, training materials, and customised learning experiences, using groundbreaking technology that is already transforming work for more than 90 000 organisations worldwide.

“Succeeding in business is tougher than ever before. The Alliance Programme helps talented students and professionals get an edge on the competition,” confirms Taman. With these industry-specific business tools, proficiency is developed, offering students and professionals at every level the critical skills that will set them apart in the job market. “Software solutions should have the necessary capabilities built in, not bolted on. Contemporary solutions deliver lasting return on investment, long-term sustainability, and the flexibility to adapt and grow,” concludes Jane Thomson, Managing Director at Softworx, an Infor partner and event sponsor. “These are the cornerstones of effective digital transformation.”

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