Africa is innovating – but must keep balance in mind


Innovation means different things to different people – and the same goes for the enterprise. There are challenges to the rollout of innovative ideas within an organisation and a balanced, carefully considered approach works best.


Speakers at the Tech Demo Africa 2013 raised interesting points about innovation and its place within the enterprise. (Image source: Google/

This is the view of C-level panellists who, on 21 May, led a discussion on Championing Innovation in the Enterprise at the two-day Tech Demo Africa 2013 conference being held at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa.

The session opened with the question of what innovation means to each of the panellists.

Among the replies was a focus on linking innovation with incubation, to make resources available to ensure that businesses are in a position to seriously compete and grow.

Another response suggested that it was necessary to innovate in order to stay relevant, and the cloud was an obvious focal point for businesses wanting to position themselves accordingly.

Bjon Ivanovic, Lead Innovation Engineer at Frog, who served as chief facilitator for the session, asked what trade-offs organisations need to make in order to encourage innovation.

The Google approach – which is based on each employee being offered the time and resources to be innovative as part of their responsibility, was highlighted as an example of how organisations could approach and manage innovation.

“Innovation is an expense and that has to be taken into consideration,” said one of the delegates.

James Saulez, COO, Signia, made the distinction between what he called “well-considered innovation and ill-considered innovation” – and the need to consider the art of the possible in terms of management approach.

Another member of the audience raised the point that innovation need not be exclusively related to technology and the panel agreed that technology, for the most part, is an enabler – innovation stems from ideas that have sound, practical application and should be based on a carefully considered plans they said.

Chris Tredger, Online Editor