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Innovation – Commercialisation of innovation

In the previous article I discussed the diffusion of innovation.  I mentioned that diffusion is only one part of the commercialisation concept and that commercialisation is a more holistic concept and includes many other aspects such as pricing, logistics, marketing and advertising, after sales service etc.  In the environment of corporate innovation, commercialisation of products and services and making a profit from it, are in most cases the main reason why innovation is pursued.
After the “Eureka!” moment, it’s essential to have a disciplined framework that puts a spotlight on the things that will determine the commercial potential of your idea.  Without going into the detail, the seven questions that should be asked are:  1. Is the market attractive? 2. What customer needs does the innovation meet? 3. What’s the value proposition? 4. How can we lock out competitors?
5. Is it do-able? 6. Can it be profitable? 7. Is it strategic?  The first three questions require a thorough understanding of the organisation’s customers, their need for the product or service, and how the product or service will match the customer’s need.  The other questions are focused on the competition, the organisation’s capability to produce and deliver the product or service, all the financial aspects and if the innovation is aligned with the organisation’s strategy.
Once these questions have been analysed and answered and the idea has been fully developed, a new product or service is ready to be released to the market.  Launch requirements vary widely by type of idea and by industry. Within the pharmaceutical market for example, a new medication launch program can take over 18 months, requiring the efforts of many business functions and teams. Launching a new product in any industry requires careful planning, coordination across a wide number of business functions and a significant marketing spend. Many new products and services fail due to poor launch execution and planning.
A successful launch entails coordinating the tasks, projects and timeframes of a wide array of business functions within the organisation, and often includes contractors or third party business partners as well. Powerful project management and workflow software are available that can assist an organisation to ensure that product launches are accomplished on time and on budget.
Once a product has been built or a service configured, the buying audience must be made aware of the new product. Launching a new product or service requires integrating the sales teams, sales channels, marketing and manufacturing or service delivery.  A program management application that includes workflow, task management and scheduling will help ensure all the teams involved execute their tasks and responsibilities so the launch is completed on-time and on-budget.  It is also good practice, if it is possible, to do a simulated version of a new launch, before actually taking it to market.  This will usually highlight process flaws and issues you did not think of.
Also remember that commercialisation reaches farther than just getting the product to market.  Commercialisation inherently includes building and sustaining the new product or service in the market.  This means that after sales service and dealing with comebacks and defective products should also be planned for.  
Next Time
I have now discussed commercialisation of innovation and it was evident that customer interaction is a major part of this process.  So where would the best ideas for improving the organisation’s products or services come from, the customer off course.  This is a well-known concept in innovation, where the organisation taps into the customers’ creative potential to get ideas for new products and services and improvements on existing ones.  This is referred to as “open innovation” and I will discuss it in the next column.  I conclude with a quote from David Ogilvy: “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.  Management cannot be expected to recognise a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman”.

About The Author

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.