Dismissing a whole continent?

I met Jason Busch, fellow Enterprise Irregular, earlier this year at Sapphire. He knows the procurement space really well, and has a blog called spend matters, to which I subscribe.

I was saddened  to read that he basically wrote off the African continent from a sourcing perspective.

In my view, we would all do well to invest our tourism dollars in a continent as beautiful as Africa, not to mention our charity donations for medical care, safe drinking water and nutrition programs — among other causes — in the region. But Africa is about as far away from becoming a leading low cost supplier as it gets

This is stunningly patronising, and factually wrong.

Let’s take the automotive industry as an example. South Africa plays a major role as a supplier to the automotive industry.11% of the world’s catalytic convertors are made there. (see more about Fiat here)

In April 2005, General Motors awarded its South African arm a contract worth US$3-billion  to manufacture a new global version of its Hummer sports utility vehicle – the H3 – for export to markets in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. In 2004, Volkswagen SA announced a R25-billion export programme that will see the company exporting about 2 300 of its new Golf 5 cars each month through 2009, mostly to Japan and Australia, but also to New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia. DaimlerChrysler confirmed that the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class would be manufactured in SA from 2007. The company plans to almost double production at its East London plant to roll out up to 80 000 units a year, a large portion of which will be exported. More here. and recently  here.

A shipment of Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars, built in South Africa by DaimlerChrysler South Africa, has headed off for the USA. The first shipment on 8 November consisted of close on 400 left-hand drive units destined for Baltimore, Jacksonville and Long Beach. It is estimated that around 225 000 cars will be shipped to this important market from the East London manufacturing plant as part of its seven-year contract to produce the model series.

And Airbus. yep.



Have a look at the Johannesburg stock exchange performance vs that of the US. This is not just driven by tourist dollars, but by rapidly growing industrial and service sectors.

If you are really interested in what is going on in Africa, check out the recent TED sessions. This one on Aids, for instance.  Parts of Africa are booming, because of investment, local entrepreneurship and more stable government.  South Africa is not the only economy in Africa doing well, take Botswana….

Botswana has maintained one of the world’s highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966, though growth slowed to 4.7% in 2006. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of more than $11,000 in 2006.

The world’s largest Titanium mine is due to come online in Mozambique, a country until recently ravaged by war. The mozal Aluminium refinery in Mozambique is one of the lowest cost producers in the world. Expect to see more refining moving to Africa.

Corruption in Africa is not just an African challenge. You will find that many of those doing the bribing are from developed countries. And actually, South Africa ranks better than  both India and China in the bribery index.  The US is not corruption free either.

Parts of Africa offer huge sourcing opportunities, and world class service and product. It won’t just be in manufacturing either  Service Centres seem likely to do well too. This is from a recent interview with the CEO of ContactinGauteng. (Gauteng is a province in South Africa)

Gauteng is already playing a leading role in driving new growth through investment into Gauteng, and assisting South Africa to position itself as a preferred destination because of our high voice quality, relative accent neutrality, unscripted conversational ability, our warm and friendly approach, our cultural affinity and time zone compatibility with the UK and Western Europe. Recent research on UK call centres shows that 90% of calls into the UK did not question where the calls were coming from, and of the 10% who asked, over 70% reacted positively on hearing that the call was from South Africa. This is key to our competitive positioning in call centres.

South Africa hopes to be rated among the top five outsource destinations for call centres globally within the next 10 years. In view of this we are aiming to create 60% of the 100 000 jobs set as a target by the dti. This is 60 000 jobs by the end of 2009, approximately 25% direct (agents on phones and email response), and 75% indirect (team leaders, supervisors, managers in a call centre operation plus catering, cleaning, transport and related services). The growth has been phenomenal and is set to continue.

The dti’s BPO&O Government Assistance and Support (GAS) programme, launched in March 2007, has given much-needed impetus and ammunition to attract the large international companies located, for example, in the UK, to set their sights on South Africa. As a result, there has been unprecedented international interest from companies in the UK, and even the US, and there is serious investment potential in the pipeline.

Former parts of the French colonial empire are developing their call centre businesses too. Between 2001 and 2004, 55 French language call centres have been set up in Morocco, employing 6,500 people and generating total revenue of euro 85 million (US$105 million).

In the face of intensified global competition, French companies have sought ways of cutting costs by off-shoring production and outsourcing some business processes, especially client support and promotion. This is where a French-speaking former colony, like Senegal, or protectorates, like Morocco and Tunisia, come in. Some 10,000 of France’s 250,000 call center jobs have been outsourced to these Francophone countries.

This story from Senegal is worth a look. Or ACS in Ghana.  Or Rising Data, also in Ghana, KenCall in Kenya. These are small beginnings, sure, but Africa is not all broken water pumps and devastation.

That Africa will not take over China and India anytime soon in all areas of sourcing is obvious, but it is not the basket case that Jason makes it out to be.

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A new SAP blogger

Very good to see Edward Brice is now blogging. He is a marketing VP here at SAP. This is what he is writing about.

What’s more interesting is I find my “over 40” colleagues completely confusing themselves, and truly believing that the world as we know it, in a marketing context, is coming to an end. As they see it the fundamentals of marketing have changed, it’s a totally new world and you must be 12 to understand it. You’ll here them use terms like: I just don’t get all this stuff, or why did he throw a “sheep” at me?

Of course a few of the over 40 crowd completely embrace all this new hype even though they really don’t know what it means either. You know the ones. They start dressing in black, and start to sound like Tim Gunn, of Project Runway, as they tell you that you “so don’t get it”, and that you need to be put out to pasture.

So why not start a blog for the over 40 marketing professional. A blog where we can explore all this hype. You see I don’t think the fundamentals for marketing have changed at all. I think the tools, the communication channels, and the way in which people collect, create, and share information has. This means there are new opportunities to link our messages together, cast a wider net, and generate more demand. The new challenge of marketing professionals is more about how to optimize against reaching a networked audience versus a completely new playing field and rules.


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Corruption kills.

James Farrar, SAP VP for CSR kindly invited me up to Berlin, with James Governor, Dennis Howlett, Michael Schwandt and Stephanie Raabe. We had a good, open session on web 2.0 and what it could mean for Transparency International. Dennis and James have both blogged about the meeting, so I won’t repeat what they said here.

A couple of things hit home from the meeting. In our little enterprisey blogging echo chamber, it is unlikely that anything we post or read could lead someone’s life being threatened. Egos may be dented here and there, tempers may flair at worst.

But when your organisation is

Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world. TI’s mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption.

The folks at Transparency International and the people they advise sometimes risk life and limb.

On reading the annual reports it made me realise that the Constant Gardener was more fact than fiction. I read of whistle blowers disappearing, and the extent and depth of corruption is numbing.

“Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. Some estimates put money corruptly leaving the continent at greater than that arriving as aid. Much of the money is banked in
Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies and sometimes British citizens or companies are involved in corrupt deals. We want our government to get tough on corruption.”

– Hugh Bayley MP, Chair; House of Commons Africa All Party Parliamentary Group,29 March 2006

I’m glad that TI are exploring how web 2.0 can raise awareness, drive funding and build a stronger link to the community. And I believe it can help make TI even more relevant than it is today. At the same time, they are right to proceed cautiously. There is a lot more at stake than I realised before I visited them.

As I slip my latte and blog about ERP, it is humbling to think that

Over one billion people lack clean drinking water; close to three billion lack adequate sanitation. In 2006, Transparency International co-founded the Water Integrity Network to bring transparency and integrity to the water sector.

We can all do our bit to fight corruption. It is sand in the gears of capitalism at best, and at worst it is counterfeit heart valves,and substandard concrete that collapses at the slightest shudder. Markets are not free if they are corrupt. Even the most libertarian of thinkers, Milton Friedman, asserted that businesses have no social responsibility other than to increase profits and refrain from engaging in deception and fraud. It is unfortunate that the second half of this quote is often ignored. I’ll leave the broader discussion CSR and GRC for another post, save to say there is more to this than SOX 404.

If you cant see the videos head over to TIs’s youtube channel, a good 2.0esque step…)

Bribery and corruption require both supply and demand.

If you want to donate to TI, or just find out more about what they do, head over to the website. Give them some linklove while you are at it.

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Innovation again. IBM goodness.

IBM continues to impress me. Via twitter and Dennis I came across Roo Reynolds’ presentation , and it is well worth a look.


This presentation cleverly brings together the SOA stuff and enterprise 2.0. For the HR folks check out slides 13-18 and ask yourself how can this impact organisation design, skills management, career planning and so on? Employees are deploying powerful tools to self-manage and self-organise. The opportunity for HR to use these tools is there too, but HR’s absence from the picture is all too typical. Perhaps it is time to work on an HR 2010 presentation….(the workshop this week in Stockholm may help)

Also via Twitter, I noticed that Elsua will be at the same gig. I’ve never met either of these gents, but I read them regularly. Some day we may meet in the real world. Next time I’m in Barcelona I’ll be looking Elsua up.

The tools though, are not just about connecting, they are about fostering new ways of innovating. A recent paper by IDEO gurus Rodriguez and Solomon explores “the singular insight of many minds

Until this decade, the ability to use technology to enable networked innovation was very limited. The primary technologies used to facilitate group innovation were paper and, more recently, the whiteboard and dry erase marker. Certainly telephones and faxes helped link people, but the utility of a live call diminishes quite rapidly as the number of participants grow. However, a great deal has happened
in the past decade that is revolutionizing collaborative innovation. New communication and collaboration platforms, media, and tools now allow many-to-many collaboration at a scale and cost that could never have been achieved in the past. The Internet, an overnight success three decades in the making, along with its younger cousin the Web, really does change everything. For the first time, we now have tools that enable the free exchange of information across many individuals with remarkably low friction. As a thought experiment,imagine a single person or nonnetworked organization answering hundreds of inquiries per day in a productive and effective fashion. In the industrial-world paradigm, this would require dozens, even thousands, of customer support representatives. It would probably feel a lot
like calling an airline. And yet a technology-enabled organization like Google responds to over 200 million search queries per day with sub-second response time: new technologies can change our sense of what can be done at scale.

Looking from the outside, it seems that IBM is rapidly embracing these new ways of working. This links in rather nicely to what Andy Grove had to say recently.

Forget about startups, says Intel’s co-founder. It’s large companies that generate real change. Apple upended the music industry. Wal-Mart may reinvent health care. Now if only G.E. would build an electric car

Those that constantly moan about inability of big companies to innovate miss the point. Yes, guys in a garage is the romantic image of innovation, but lots of it happens in big organisations too. IBM continues to reinvent itself, and as collective innovation processes and technology become more mainstream and sophisticated, this will help the larger organisations exploit their massive human and financial capital more effectively.

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Ngobo Ngobo rocks with a rock steady beat.

Last weekend, in Weinheim’s Cafe Central, I saw and heard the fabulously awesomely brilliant German Ska Band, Ngobo-Ngobo.

If you enjoy ska and its derivatives…  the Skatalites, Madness, the Specials, The Beat, and more recently the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mustard Plug, Catch22, Reel the Big Fish, Less than Jake, Seeed,… odds on you’ll love Ngobo Ngobo. Anyway, have a listen here, even if you have no idea what I’m on about.

The name sounds Zulu, but that wasn’t how they came up with it. Eva, one of the Sax players, is married to an SAP Supply Chain software designer-developer, but this doesn’t detract in anyway from the coolness of this band.

Musically very tight indeed, great stage presence and clever lyrics.  I wasn’t expecting this on the Bergstrasse. They actually got a room full of Germans dancing wildly, which is no mean feat. They have been going for ages (since 1993), and have several albums.

They are big in Japan. (sound not great on this clip)

Thanks Jeremiah for the invite and and thanks to last.fm for the tour of Ska bands.



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Copyright, EFF Open Rights Group, and forming an opinion on digital rights.

Video here, if not visible.TEDtalks session

I think I’ve read everything that Larry Lessig has published, and I saw him live a few years ago at the Oxford Union. This TED talk is one of his best. Restricting presenters to 20 minutes is a good discipline, at least in this format. Lessig is a master of using multimedia to delight and enhance his message, and his images leave an indelible residue in the back of your mind. Next time you hear a brass band, you will think of Lessig, and the need for copyright reform.

As adults we form opinions and take positions on issues such as war, abortion, death penalties, speed limits, drinking ages, the environment, human rights and so on. It is part of what defines us as human beings. It is time we did the same with copyright. Understanding copyright and intellectual property generally, and forming your own opinion about them is vital. I believe that as adults, we have a responsibility to understand copyright, its good bits and its problems, and have an informed opinion.

As politicians blog,  and use youTube, Twitter and the like, it is also time we heard from them about what they think of copyright. When you decide who to vote for, you assess their positions on a whole slew of factors, I’d ask you to add copyright to that list. I notice that John Edwards has come out in favour of net neutrality, but I’d love to know what his and the other candidates’ positions are on copyright and patents…

Some people have heard of the EFF, and indeed an EFF sticker on the Mac Book is rather trendy in digerati circles.

from pixelm

It is worth spending some time over on the EFF site, and on Chilling Effects. The EFF is primarily focused on the US issues, but these are important for the rest of us, as US law and lawlessness has global repercussions.

If I’d been to Berlin for web 2.0, I would have listened to Cory Doctorow’s presentation on copyright. Instead, I’ll have to rely on Stephanie Booth’s notes.

Support the Open Rights Group

It is timely that my favourite law blogger, Geeklawyer, mentioned Org, ( Open Rights Group. ) This is the UK equivalent of EFF.  According to the said Geeklawyer, who is sometimes reliable…

Jolly good job too. As it’s 2007 report shows it has more than lived up to its promise and done some magnificent work for such a new and minimally funded organisation. For example so far it has influenced the Gower report, helped shine an unwelcome spotlight on the farce of e-voting in the UK and counterbalanced the gross dissembling of the shadier parts of the copyright industry. It’s now a central media resource for journalists needing more balance in their reports – something desperately needed.

I’ll quote from the report here.

Further, digital technologies are affecting citizens’ ability to exercise their existing legal rights
effectively, as some segments of the private sector have increasingly looked to government to extend their rights in an effort to prop up outdated business models. And digital technologies may also generate new possibilities for public (non personal) data, though the UK government has tended to corral public sector information, limiting its exploitation and thus creative and economic opportunities.
For too long, there has been little informed public debate in the UK about any of these issues. Media coverage and policy-making has largely been driven by agendas set in Whitehall and corporate board rooms and there was no organisation in the UK defending citizens’ digital rights

For those more technically inclined, James Governor has this to say.

ORG is now looking for more money and more members as it further professionalises. So if you’re in the UK sign up. The EFF is nice and all, but the ORG is looking after local issues. In fact I am going to go make a donation right now!

(Actually I think James and Geeklawyer ought to meet!)

Check out the ORG  wiki here.  The board and advisory council of ORG has some serious heavy hitters on it, including the drummer of Blur, one of the Cluetrain authors and several top legal academics.

You may read the EFF and ORG stuff, and come to a view that you don’t agree with them, and that copyright is fine the way it is, or even that Disney etc need more rights. That is your democratic right. But I’d ask you to form an informed opinion.

The civil rights battles of this century will be fought online – by groups of passionate,technologically keen, articulate volunteers like ORG.” — Cory Doctorow, author

There is more to the copyright question than copying music.

Transparency, performance management, HR and the Cluetrain.

At India’s HCL Technologies, workers get to grade the boss, and everybody can see the ratings. Read the full story over on business week.

Instead of asking why should you open up performance management for everyone to see, I’d suggest you ask, “why not?” What is the point of having an elaborate recording keeping system if it is kept looked away?  Imagine how much more seriously managers would take 360 degree feedback if it was open for the whole company to see? 

Do you know of other companies doing this? 

Nayar, the CEO had this to say.

“I believe this whole concept [of making management more accountable to workers] is going to get accepted as a way of life … Talent is only becoming scarcer and scarcer.”

Cluetrain meets HR. Cool. This fits in rather nicely with what James wrote a couple of weeks ago.

Most people, I suspect particularly the generation that went to college in the last ten years or so, will want to work for employers that trust them, not those that try and control them. They will also want to work at places that allow them to use the tools they know make them productive. Forget ROI studies- this generation doesn’t need, expect or want someone else to tell them whether web services might make them more productive. It would be like saying no you can’t use a pen- you have to use this chalk and slate. Forget the phone we have this cool pigeon service…

Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and so on are not matters for IT professionals to decide, really. They are questions for managing directors and human resources professionals. If you want to hire top talent you need to trust people and help them become even more effective. Shutting things down won’t cut it. Is training required alongside the trust? Absolutely. Does your corporation need clear policies about acceptable behaviour, online and off? Obviously.

HR departments today are faced with a simple choice. Are they for or against openness and trust? Every other policy decision is just details.

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Reviewing the Future of Reputation

Daniel Solove called on bloggers with an interest in privacy to drop him a note, and he would send a copy of his latest book for review.  The only condition was that you posted a review.  So here is mine.

Solove is on a mission to get people thinking about privacy who haven’t really thought about it before. Anyone who has a Facebook profile, a blog, or who posts photos online, or has friends and family who do, ought to read it. As a very successful  blogger himself, he brings a practical perspective to the topic of gossip, ‘rumor’ and privacy on the Internet.

It would be a good book for parents to read, as it would able them to understand the mySpace etc dangers and benefits better. It is accessible enough that a teenager could learn from it, without being bored by a lot of legal rhetoric.  Solove writes well, with a deft touch.  It isn’t a dense academic book, although Solove is a highly respected privacy academic. Legal types may wish for more depth, but if so, then head over and read this.

The book works because it uses lots of anecdotes to explain complex issues, simply.  It covers the awkward and subtle tensions between privacy and the first amendment-freedom of speech brilliantly. It also provides an excellent quick tour through US privacy law history. (curious though that I didn’t see  Roe v Wade  mentioned)

Most of my own research into privacy has been about government and big business.  Solove makes the powerful point that there is a significant threat from your friends, lovers and colleagues too.

He effectively challenges the binary private-public divide, arguing coherently we need to understand shades of confidentially and exposure, and uses the burning man event, Washingtonienne, Article III, and other incidents to illustrate this. He eloquently explains the paradox  that we need greater privacy and recourse against unwanted exposure if freedom of speech is to thrive.  The dangers of vigilantism and shaming are given close attention.

He briefly touches on the power of technology to aid privacy protection, but he could have explored this in more depth.  He did call on social networking tools to offer stronger privacy default. This is good advice. I would have liked more on the copyright analogy.

My only significant  gripe was that the book is very US and tort centric. It made passing mention of UK tort, but it made no mention of European Data Protection Law, nor of the right to privacy in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or other significant legal instruments.

He is more positive than I am about the future of privacy. 

In short, buy it.

Berlin web 2.0.


thanks Korbatz flickrstream

This irks me, well more than irks, but this is a family blog. The biggest  web 2.0 event in Europe. 

In our back garden.

And SAP nowhere to be seen.  

thanks Flickrstream cihgt

A wasted opportunity to position what we are doing with communities, design and new technologies. Wii hands anyone?  A chance to start to change perceptions?  learn about our blind spots?

 Microsoft is all over it.

I hope I’m wrong, and there are lots of SAPlers there, soaking up all that 2.0 goodness.


Thanks Shyne’s flickrstream (note to self: seek out details of Jeremy Keith’s talk)

At the very least we could have sent our slide template people along to learn about what cool slides look like.

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A busy HR related couple of weeks ahead.

I’m rather busy on the SAP HR-HCM front at the moment.

On Tuesday I’ll be speaking at at an ADP event on HR Transformation to be held in the London Savoy.

The SAP-ADP relationship continues to strengthen, both in terms of business success and longer term strategic significance. It will be good to listen to the Pitney Bowes story and I’ll be talking about the challenges and benefits of standardisation and broccoli, and shock, horror, a little tiny sprinkling of SOA. (Minus the technical bits.)

Then on Thursday and Friday we are holding our next HR Best practice meeting. This one is in Edinburgh, and it should be an excellent session. We have something like  27 different companies attending. The theme of the meeting is HR shared services. Details here.

The momentum for driving efficiency, cost saving and service improvement in HR is very strong at the moment, and it isn’t just a case of people talking about it, but doing it.

The week after, on the 28-29 November, we will be in Stockholm at TeliaSonera, running a focus workshop on the employee of the future. Using an interactive design led methodology, we will be exploring how the students and new entrants to the workplace work and think differently, and how that may impact HR practice and processes in the near future. Social media will play a big part, but it isn’t the whole story. I’m really looking forward to this. (Agenda here)

HR today is under pressure to become more efficient. This pressure will not diminish. HR professionals need to be asking questions about what’s next, and look for some answers. Because If they don’t someone else will.

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