May: Message from the Board

The Association organised and held a very successful breakfast on Friday 24th May at Killarney Country Club. A huge vote of thanks goes to Wendy Bezuidenhout (Dancer) and Leigh Richter for their efforts in organising and arranging the event.

The current shop-sa association chair, Hans Servas, was away in the UK. In his stead Bill Bayley, of Rexel Office Products, was asked to do the welcome and introductions and to see the agenda of the meeting through.

In his opening address Bill reminded those present that that the shop-sa of today is quite different in form and function from what it was in the past. The office supplies industry has changed and evolved and is no longer dependent on a trade association to provide marketing inputs such as catalogues and trade shows. Retailers and dealers within the industry have either joined marketing groups or have developed their own resources.

In response to this shop-sa has looked at what trade associations in other countries have done to stay relevant in today`s market. One association model worthy of consideration is that of the Boss Federation in the UK. Faced with similar market changes to those experienced in SA, Boss refined their offering and focus. They discovered that one of the ways to add value to the industry is to gather intelligent industry leaders around tables, provide stimulating talks and insights which may enable those intelligent minds to go back to their respective organisations to find appropriate responses to the many changes that we are facing.

The guest speaker at Friday’s breakfast was Dion Chang, who is a strategic thinker, keynote speaker, a walking ideas bank and professional cage rattler. He is one of South Africa’s most respected trend analysts and founder of Flux Trends, which takes the unique view of “trends as business strategy”. Flux Trends specialises in identifying unexpected business opportunities within shifting trends, and specifically the impact of disruptive technologies – across all industries – ensuring that global trends have relevance when translated for African, and South African businesses.

He successfully convinced those present that the future will be quite different to life as we know it today. The second, third and fourth industrial revolution will change everything. Children will develop different ways of learning and memorising knowledge. He spoke of the need to splice as there will be different things going on within market sectors. Not everyone will move and adopt new ways of doing things at the same rate or pace. He said that running a business today is less about technology and more like white water kayaking. He spoke of the difficulty that well established organisations have in disturbing their current business models to cope with future trends and how hierarchical systems blunt innovation. He predicted a change from the practice of looking after shareholders only to the need to look after the wellness of the workforce as well. He spoke of the move towards morality marketing where consumers will reward brands that can show proven social and environmental care and awareness and that embrace diversity and inclusivity.

He predicted that companies will lead the push for positive change and will upskill the workforce. Companies will continue to introduce new technology and take care to retain institutional memory. Successful organisations will find the appropriate mix. The customer facing side of the business requires warm human interaction. The back end of the business will need automation to remain competitive.

In his presentation Rob Matthews showed the significant progress that the My Office digital publication has made in growing its readership base and encouraged industry suppliers and potential advertisers to expose their products and brands to this high quality data base of readers.

Wendy and Leigh have set up a collection drive in association with the Gift of the Givers to address the need to supply stationery to the many children in Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal that were affected by the recent floods in those areas.

A number of guests were heard to say words to the effect that “it’s been so long since last we got together, we really must do this more often”.  This for us is a familiar phrase, one that probably keeps us doing what we do. The current leaders of shop-sa are inspired by the words of Ken Blanchard when he said: “None of us is as smart as all of us” and for this reason we will continue to attempt to add value to the industry by gathering together and exposing ourselves to the wisdom and guidance of those who may inspire us to plot a way for successful business in the future.

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn.” – Alwin Toffler

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