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FNB, Paperight come out tops in SA innovation index

Want to see real examples of innovative South African companies? Then take a look at First National Bank (FNB) and publishing startup Paperight.

The two companies came out tops in the inaugural Accenture Innovation Index in South Africa. According to Accenture, the Innovation Index aims to “measure, promote and reward innovative ideas and commercial concepts across the public and private sectors in the South African marketplace”.

It was launched, the New York Stock Exchange listed company says, “to promote business growth and the development of new, sustainable enterprises that will spur job creation”. Each entrant completed a questionnaire that captured its efforts to pursue innovation, and these responses were used to assess the work they’d done.

The Innovation Master category was open to any organisation regardless of size or industry. The adjudicators and judges apparently explored how innovation is managed in an organisation, and looked at the entire innovation ecosystem within an organisation, from HR and social systems, to brand, marketing and product development.

First National Bank won the Zenith award, presented to an organisation with an annual turnover above R40-million, while Paperight won the Apex award for an organisation with an annual turnover less than R40-million.

Among the FNB innovation highlights cited by the judges were the 8 160 fully implemented innovations since 2004, being named Most Innovative Bank at the 2012 BAI-Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards, and being recognised as the Most Innovative Bank in South Africa for the past seven years in the Banking Innovation Study conducted by the Innovation Agency.

Paperight meanwhile turns any business with a printer and an internet connection into a print-on-demand bookstore. By registering with Paperight for free, businesses have access to an online library from which they can legally print out books, magazines and other documents for their customers.

Paperight lets publishers earn licence fees from the print-outs, cutting out expensive distribution and printing costs, and passing those savings on to customers. Paperight says its print-outs are, on average, 20% cheaper than conventional editions of books and are available close to people’s homes, even in low-income and remote locations.

In addition, Lodox Systems’ Xmplar-dr was named the top innovation concept. The Lodox Xmplar-dr is a full-body X-ray scanner for trauma and forensic pathology use. The scanner performs a head to toe scan in 13 seconds, producing an entirely digital image, while emitting very low levels of harmful radiation. The patented imaging process is reportedly entirely unique, and its makers claim that no other machine in the world can replicate the speed, extent, quality and safety of scanning.

1 Call Accredited Services and Providers and Absa meanwhile received special mentions at the awards.

1 Call Accredited Services and Providers aims to be a one stop shop for consumers to find an accredited contractor in the domestic marketplace be they builders, plumbers, electricians, or handymen. The innovation, says Accenture, is in its efforts to clean up an industry with a historically bad reputation for fly-by-night contractors.

Absa’s innovations include a new transactional banking product targeted at entry-level career graduates and professionals, Potentiate, and its new-generation ATMs that offer enhanced cash acceptance, card-less banking and unique security features to minimise the impact of criminal activity on the ATM network.

“The inaugural Accenture Innovation Index in South Africa received 190 entries from a range of organisations across multiple industries,” said Accenture South Africa Chief Executive, William Mzimba. “This remarkable number of participants is a huge achievement, and has ensured a more accurate benchmark for measuring and rewarding innovation in South Africa. It is also an indication of the level of aspiration for innovation, and we congratulate those companies who have been recognised as South Africa’s leading innovators.”

Accenture also says that the entries provided some pretty unique insight into innovation in South Africa.

It was revealed that the most innovative companies manage innovation through senior leadership, yet 90% of these companies foster an innovative culture by encouraging employees to innovate and offering financial rewards for great ideas, versus 48% for the rest of the market. In addition, these companies have increased their market share through innovation — as cited by 75% of the respondents — and are generating revenue from innovations that are only three years old.

Furthermore, Accenture says, organisations achieve productivity and efficiency gains as a result of technological process innovations. An overwhelming 97% of South African organisations reportedly say technological process innovations have helped them meet growing consumer demand.

Author | Nur Bremmen: Staff reporter

Nur Bremmen: Staff reporter
Nur is an enigma with a passion for creating words. He recently entered a love affair with technology and chorizo sausages. He travels a lot -- you catch him, if you can, at a Silicon Cape event every now and again. More