Did you know that 50% of organisations worldwide don’t have standard processes, process assets and/or job aids?

By Steven Ing, head of professional services at SAS

According to the Capability Maturity Model Institute, 42% have no established planning process, while 41% aren’t encouraging employees to build organisational capabilities.

Studies have shown that organisations do their best when they focus their process improvement efforts on a prioritised and manageable number of practice areas at a time. Therefore, planning for innovation is important.

The Capability Maturity Model is a worthwhile tool for organisations to measure their performance against.

The capability levels referred to in the model, apply to an organisation’s performance and proves improvement achievements in individual practice areas. Within practice areas, the practices are organised into practice groups labelled Level 0 to Level 5.

These levels provide an indication of the evolutionary path to performance improvement. Each level builds on the previous levels by adding new functionality or rigor, resulting in increased capability.

Currently, South African organisations are sitting at Level 2 – “repeatable”.

According to the Capability Maturity Model, the “repeatable” level applies to organisations wherein existing practices are retained. The minimum process discipline is in place to repeat earlier successes on projects with similar applications and scope – and deviating from the ‘tried and tested’ is seen to bring a significant risk of exceeding cost and time estimate.

Given the current state of affairs in South Africa, this is a dangerous level for the country’s businesses to remain. South Africa has fallen into recession, growth levels are low and business confidence has dwindled. Planning for innovation is of paramount importance – now more so than ever.


Out with the old

Having worked and travelled across many countries during my 15 years with SAS, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of experiencing how various markets operate and understanding what makes them different and successful.

Upon my return to SAS Africa in 2017, I realised one fatal problem with many South African organisations: executives are often scared to part with old patterns, they rely on gut feel and do not use intelligence derived from data as a core differentiator when making decisions.

While institutional experience and understanding are undeniably great feats, as business people we can never assume that there is not more to learn.

As times continue to change and consumers do things differently, so too must organisations. This does not infer that businesses must simply embrace change and trends more rigorously – on the contrary, I believe that, while South Africa remains behind first world and most developing countries in terms of development, our businesses are open to adapting with the times and introducing new technologies as and when they become available.

However, the ways in which decisions are made are identical to what they were when I left the country in 2005 – while management and executive decisions-making processes were adapting and changing on a regular basis elsewhere leveraging the intelligence derived from data and advanced analytics.

What is my point? Well, could it be that other countries are advancing quicker not purely because their innovations keep them ahead, but because they are prepared to change what they “thought” they knew and adapt in a way that exceeds simply following trends?

Perhaps the culture of service delivery needs to change not in a way that aligns with customer interests at the time, but rather in a way that ensures customers are front and centre of every decision going forward.


In with the new

South African organisations must follow the now-commonplace practice of leading organisations to use advanced analytics to make fact-based decisions for the business.

We must move from a reactive to a proactive decision-making business model if we are to prepare for innovation and keep customers loyally engaged.

By using analytics to understand exactly what customers want, organisations will be better placed to make decisions to not only fulfil customer desires but keep them happy and returning for more.

Demographic data does not constitute sufficient statistics to create a comprehensive go-to-market strategy, because every person within each demographic receives messages differently.

In other words, a business cannot put together a strategy for a particular product or service and implement that strategy the same way across the millennial demographic, for instance, because within that demographic, each millennial’s needs and interests are varied.

So, while organisations may believe they are targeting their strategies, messaging and products by aligning against what demographic data appears to promote as “the right way to do things”, they are still following a largely “spray and pray” model because they could take their targeting one step further – and are choosing not to do so.

Organisations must use the data sources, such as operations, social and machine data that they have access to, produce intelligence using advanced analytic techniques to predict future behaviour and tailor their messages to customers, thereby ensuring that products and services are marketed to the correct customers, in context, all of the time.

At SAS, we do not promote products, but rather the value insights that the products enable. Advanced analytics can be used to make all business decisions in all industries in every country.

This is the reality in more mature markets – using  data to make fact-based business decisions and, where necessary, forgoing the tried and tested in favour of the facts presented in the data.

Therefore the primary issue in South Africa is not about educating the market about what technology can do, but about educating the executives within the country’s organisations about aligning people, process, infrastructure and culture to surface trusted intelligence across the enterprise to make fact-based decisions.