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Innovation and change matter to so many companies and organisations, but what are they?

Innovation and change matter to so many companies and organisations, but what are they?

By Dr Rikus Grobler of Namibia Innovation Solutions

Whenever there is a request to define innovation, I compare it to other terms like “invention” and “creativity”.

Ultimately, my definition for innovation, in the context of corporate innovation, is: “Innovation is the application of resources to create value for the customer and the enterprise by developing, improving and commercialising new and existing products, processes and services.”

So why all the hype about innovation? In this series of articles I want to state the case for innovation and why it matters for any organisation that wants to prosper.

Why pursue innovation?

For me there is one quote that summarises best why the pursuit of constant innovation is crucial. This is by the influential writer and management consultant, Peter Drucker, who said: “Innovation is the only competitive advantage a company really has, because quality improvements and price reductions can be replicated, as can technology. Therefore, if a company could have just one major capability, it should be innovation”.

The two realities every business face, is firstly that there will always be competition and secondly that the market environment is constantly changing. These changes can manifest itself in many forms; it can be technological-, legal-, economical-, political- or environmental change, to name a few, and the organisation will feel the impact of change on the bottom line, growth or the most severe one, sustainability.

We are all aware that in these economically challenging times, it has become harder and harder to fight for your share of the customer’s wallet. The principle never changed, and it still holds true today and will forever: Survival of the fittest. To be the “fittest” you need to outsmart your competitors and adapt to the changing circumstances to your best benefit.

Let’s look at a few examples where the “fittest” survived. VHS killed Betamax, for Generation Y, who will probably not know what this means. A better example would be: the iPod killed the MP3 player. Digital photography caught Kodak off guard and where Kodak was once the leader in photographic equipment, they are almost unheard of today.

The world’s most renowned watchmakers, the Swiss, took a serious hit when the Japanese started utilising quartz technology in watches in the early 1980s. Google toppled Yahoo in the search engine race. Amazon disrupted book retail at first, and these days almost anything from electronic devices to sporting equipment.

Yes, these examples are of renowned global companies, but it is easy to relate to these examples, because we as consumers in the global village lived through these scenarios. The point I am making is that these organisations had serious competition in the form of market leaders, and all of them were exposed to the same technological and market changes, but they outsmarted the competition and became the market leaders.

Applying this principle in our business environment in Namibia, innovation is the key to help your organisation become the “fittest” through development of new products and services that enlighten your customers, reduction of operational costs, improving customer satisfaction and employee engagement, and to see your revenues and margins increase steadily.

Create value through implementation of ideas. Ideas which people have had made the difference in the whole history of man, simple ideas and complex ideas, little ideas and big ideas. What unknown genius first discovered the wheel? Who was the person who discovered wheat could be made into bread? Our whole world is defined by the people who had the ideas that made possible the automobile, the bridge, the skyscraper, the airplane, the ocean liner, the telephone, the light which turns night into day, mobile telephony. Innovation is your silver bullet for survival.

Next Time

In the next delivery I will discuss how to decide where to focus innovation to get the most out of it. I conclude with a quote by Harvey Firestone: “Capital isn’t so important in business. Experience isn’t so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.”


 

About The Author

Rikus Grobler

Dr Rikus Grobler is a Namibian academic, inventor, entrepreneur, public speaker, and management consultant who specialises in the development of the innovation capability of companies and individuals. He holds degrees in Engineering and Law, and has an MBA and a PhD in Business Administration. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and he has also completed studies in design thinking and patenting. He has engaged leading Namibian organisations such as The Capricorn Group, Agra, Old Mutual Namibia, The Bank of Namibia, City of Windhoek, The Government of Namibia, Afrox Namibia, and Hollard Namibia. An experienced professional with a background in manufacturing, information technology, tertiary education and financial services, Dr Grobler has been involved in innovation management for the past 10 years and currently holds the position of Manager: Innovation for the Capricorn Group in Namibia. He is particularly interested in creativity, innovation and invention, and his mission is to provide performance-enhancing innovation management services that enable organisations and individuals to fully exploit their creative potential to reach their goals.

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

Promotion

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.