How innovative are SA businesses?

Published on: July 18, 2015

New ways of thinking needed to drive business forward says Blue Strata Trading

The importance of continually innovating in business is now more important than ever and companies cannot afford to fall into a routine when it comes to the latest market developments says Blue Strata Trading, a premium import and working capital specialist.

“In 2014, South Africa faired average in a Global Innovation Index where we ranked 53 out of the 143 countries surveyed,” says Adam Orlin, CEO of Blue Strata Trading. “South Africans are inherently innovative but innovation does not have to sit on the outskirts of the company. Thanks to the evolution of technology, integrating solutions into existing organisational processes has become less of a burden and more of a critical business deliverable.”

Irrespective of industry, technology is playing an increasing role in how business leaders grow their companies and identify trends that they can take advantage of. Especially in the South African market that combines first world technologies with developing market growth opportunities, the capacity for innovation is virtually limitless.

“When technology is used to aid innovation, it can deliver significant value to the business bottom line. Not only can it reduce costs but it also provides for better monitoring and control of the state of the business strategy,” adds Orlin.

For example, take the import industry. Having access to innovative technology provides companies in this space with greater visibility for the strategic management of their import supply chain and improved control of their supplier relationships, costs and availability of product. Thanks to having detailed information right down to container level, importers are able to manage their inventory even whilst goods are in transit.

Orlin continues; “But in order for innovation to provide business advantage, it has to be at the heart of the organisation. Furthermore, innovation has to drive the development of services and solutions provided by the organisation and the way engagement is managed to all its key stakeholders.”

By committing to innovation, the organisation helps to create a culture of passion in everything that is being done. Through embracing this, the company is able to identify opportunities and growth prospects that might not have existed otherwise. It is vital for business leaders to challenge the status quo and do things differently.”

“Innovation is not all about what is new and trendy in the market,” says Orlin. “To be innovative as a business and as a decision-maker, means to also look at finding different ways of doing existing things. It is not always about reinventing the wheel, but rather about changing a business process or streamlining a workflow solution. At times, providing your customers with a fully integrated solution that empowers them to make decisions faster is all it takes to gain valuable momentum in the market.”

Of course, along with the opportunities that exist in a developing economy like South Africa there are also significant challenges to overcome. “But it is in the way you face these challenges and conquer them as a decision-maker that will set your business apart from the competition. Innovation is necessary to achieve greater competitiveness and as the economic growth rate slows, it is essential that innovation is at the heart of business.”

The repercussions of not being innovation are severe. Business stagnation and losing market share are only two of the risks. Not having the right leadership in place to harness innovation through technology means engagement both internally and externally becomes limited.

“Embracing emerging digital technologies that foster collaboration and encapsulate the spirit of African entrepreneurship has become a business imperative. We are finally in a space where technology has caught up with our creativity of what we want to achieve. There are virtually no constraints stopping us to innovate. But we need leaders willing to embrace this change and drive the market forward,” concludes Orlin.