LEADING THE PACK IN INNOVATION

Big Time Strategic Group 's CEO Justice Maphosa gives insight into what makes them the best and brightest

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Big Time Group is a diversified group of wholly owned Black South African companies with business interests in the ICT sector, aviation, banking, health and pharmaceuticals, transport network, energy and insurance and agriculture. Founded in 2000, the flagship of this group, Computer Ink and Media Solutions was able to grow from a backyard business into a sizable enterprise today, through the vision, innovation, and commitment of its founder, Mr Justice Maphosa. The Group and its Companies has established its reputation as one of the formidable players in the South African ICT Sector, which is the biggest contributor to the group’s income.

In the Group are the following companies:

Computer Ink And Media solutions, Big time Strategic Consultants, Flame IT Strategy, Flame Consulting, Big Time Agriculture, Big time aviation, Big time transport, Big time insure Big Time Energy, Big Time medicals.

By using various breeds of products and services and the ingenuity and flow of ideas that are turned into solutions and planted at the core of the group’s technological breeding ground in South Africa, the Group is able to reach far and remote areas through the use of our business model of ICT audits, and informed proposals to meet various clients needs and enhance each economic sector, through the use of various enabling ICT services and solutions into order maximise time and speed up the efficiency and functionalities of these sector industries.

Our vision is to be the partner of choice in every home, every industry, and every government that seeks to transform the lives of ordinary citizens and create an all-inclusive economy.

Our mission is to add purpose to life in Africa through ingenuity out of need. Africans, we are products of our past, but we do not have to be prisoners of it, therefore respond to life with thought, precision and ideas

Our core offerings

Our ICT Consulting and professional services companies together with our project roll out and management businesses offers various solutions to the government and private sector clients, ranging from providing strategy, architecture, implementation and integration services to help plan, build, improve and innovate our client’s IT needs and provide better secure and agile business solutions. We provide these services across a range of technologies and delivery models including mobility, cloud, IT outsourcing, network, communications, data centre, end-user computing, security, and sustainability.

Our professionals advise you on optimal ways to use technology and services to transform your ICT environment and achieve higher levels of innovation. We help you develop a strategic roadmap that aligns your IT strategy and investments to your business priorities. We also assist in developing specific strategies for mobility, cloud, and IT-as-a-service to help you unlock the potential of these emerging technologies.

We work with you to design a holistic solution that integrates new technologies with the legacy environment, in line with your IT strategy.

As part of any transformation, we identify the required changes to the ICT infrastructure – from network, communications, and security to the data centre, end-user computing, applications, and service management – to ensure the new service delivers the desired return on investment and business outcomes.

As a full life cycle service provider, we will help you implement, integrate, transition, manage and continually improve the solution—across a industries and sectors of operating model options. We bring a disciplined, systematic approach using time-tested assessments, methodologies, frameworks, and best practices to drive consistency and quality throughout the project engagement.

Challenges overcome

A business started out of the need to fill the consumables space for individuals and office bearers whose appetite for printing and imaging had grown to formidable levels unsatisfied and quenched by the then prevailing markets in South Africa, it soon became clear that ICTs had hit South Africa with a cold that had to be nursed urgently through innovative ideas and astute business agility. The black economic empowerment initiatives helped propel us to the much needed momentum by opening up markets for us in government to sell our products and solutions. As such the second and third, fourth companies were formed to complement each other in this scramble for the supply of goods and services to government and private sector companies. This was the birth of the group. The first decade of the company's history was characterised by various struggles, from sourcing funding with a salary turned into investment to sourcing office space and struggling with collateral issues. Having overcome these, and helped by the strong domestic growth in South Africa at the time, Big time Strategic Group became a true black and wholly owned, home-grown success story in the South African. Big time Strategic Group quickly established a formidable reputation as an upcoming industry leader in the technology business.

Our Success

Until date, we pride ourselves as a true and true black South African company in procurement initiatives, spending patterns, employment opportunities, management crop of leaders we have bred, making it possible for ordinary black citizens to transcend and ascend the corporate ladder of success. Success is not a result of spontaneous combustion; you must set yourself on fire. This has seen Big time Strategic Group winning a number of awards from the Original equipment manufacturers and industry leaders.

Where we are right now

To Big time Strategic Group, information and communications technology (ICT) represents an enormous opportunity to introduce significant and lasting positive change across the developing world. The rapid penetration of mobile access in particular has resulted in considerable improvements in the lives of the poor in both rural and urban contexts. All evidence suggests that this trend is going to continue, as the availability expands and the cost of access continues to decline. Big time Strategic Group seeks to collaborate with industry leaders in accelerating that growth, in whatever industry it may be. Big time Strategic Group’s breath-taking pace of penetration and uptake of mobile telephony and broadband Internet is supporting many new possibilities in Africa, which were not possible in the years gone by. Our products and services are providing breakthrough ideas in agriculture, health, education, and access to finance; and helping local and international trade. It also provides new ways of communicating and lobbying, which transcends international borders, as shown by the role of mobile phones and the Internet in the waves of revolution that spread across Northern Africa in 2011. Big time Strategic Group is right there on that pinnacle point of ingenuity, agility and evolution through collaborations with other players in this space.

South Africa's unique ICT sector

In South Afric a, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is at the forefront of the modern economy and its influence cannot be ignored. Computer processing power is increasing exponentially, with technology giving rise to cultural, social and productivity shocks. Communication has been completely transformed. Cellular telephones and other mobile devices connect individuals and businesses in a way that is not only fast, but also accessible. Data are transferred between individuals and businesses seamlessly.

Businesses, countries and people are connected like never before, and communication has been totally reshaped with email systems and online messaging that deliver instant responses. The ICT sector in South Africa is an important component of the national economy. Technology is involved in almost every facet of the economy – from telecommunications to increasing productivity in manufacturing with robots, and more efficient computer hardware and software. Despite the economic importance of the ICT sector in South Africa and the world economy, it is not a clearly defined industry, as classified by the International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC). Instead ICT is a component of multiple industries throughout the economy, including manufacturing, business services, trade and telecommunications. There is a demand for ICTs from government to general business. The South Africans are sweating out their ICTs quicker and turning them over quicker than others in Africa. This is as a result of the available disposable income per household, and our geographical spread out economy and the top notch infrastructure investment south Africa has when compared to other African countries.

It might be surprising to learn that the ICT sector is larger than the agriculture industry in South Africa, which is not the case of many south African countries. This is one of the findings from Stats SA’s latest Information and communication technology satellite account for South Africa report. The document covers ICT’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), its role in imports and exports, and its contribution to household spending.

Larger than agriculture, but smaller than tourism

Think of the vast wheat fields of Free State, the wine farms of Western Cape, and the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal. The South African agriculture industry includes a wide range of activities, from livestock production to horticulture. In 2014, agriculture contributed just over 2,4% to economic production1.

ICT’s contribution, on the other hand, was slightly higher at 2,7%2 (or R93 billion); larger than agriculture, but slightly shy of tourism’s contribution of 3,1%3. In other words, for every R100 that the economy produced in 2014, R2,70 was due to activities related to ICT. Very important to note that breaking it down a little further, just over two-thirds of the R93 billion was a result of activities related to telecommunications services that include, among other things, private broadcasting and cellphone services. The remaining third consisted of computer services (e.g. data processing and software development), manufacturing of ICT equipment (such as electronic components and devices), and activities related to the development of content and media.

ICT imports supersede exports

A country experiences a trade deficit when it imports more than it exports. South Africa has consistently imported more ICT products than it has exported. The trade deficit for ICT has grown since 2011, from R42 billion in 2011 to R97 billion in 2014.

Almost half of ICT imports—47,5%, in fact—consisted of radio, television and communication equipment, and 30,7% consisted of office and computing machinery. This highlights South Africa’s reliance on other countries to provide it with ICT equipment, such as smartphones, tablets, computers and servers.

South Africa’s largest ICT export—60,5% of all ICT exports—was broadcasting, telecommunications and information supply services. Think of South Africa’s expansion into the African continent with cellphone services and pay television.

Subscriptions and contracts dominate household ICT budgets

South African households spent in the region of R105,7 billion on ICT in 2014, 4,6% of total household expenditure. Just under two-thirds of the R105,7 billion was spent on telecommunication services, which include contracts and subscriptions. Households spent 17,4% of their total ICT budgets on telecommunications equipment.

How has the African ICT sector grown over the years

The ICT sector has been growing in recent years at an unparalleled pace. In some countries, various studies note, the "information economy" is becoming one of the main drivers for economic growth more generally.

In 2009 South Africa's ICT sector generated $24.2 bn and contributed more than 7 per cent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report by Hot Telecom, a consulting firm. That same year Tunisia's ICT sector contributed 10 per cent to the country's GDP. In Tanzania its share reached 20 per cent of GDP.

Everywhere on the continent, the ICT sector is expanding rapidly. Annual ICT revenues are now estimated at around $50 bn.

Investments in Africa's mobile phone segment, the continent's dominant ICT category, have grown from $8.1 bn in 2005 to almost $70 bn today, reports the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Mobile phone operators have become major sources of tax revenue for African governments.

They average 7 per cent of tax receipts and in some countries comprise the single largest category of taxpayers, according to the GSM Association, which represents mobile operators worldwide.

Today, it is very common to notice that there is a Call centre in Nairobi, Kenya, which provides services for companies around the world. In many African countries, the information and communications technology sector is not only growing rapidly, but also stimulating other parts of the economy. This growth would be more visible and stronger as the years go by.

Right now, there is the laying of fibre-optic cable off the East African coast: More African countries will soon have faster and cheaper communications links with the rest of the world. Here in South Africa, Liquid (a Strive Masiwa company) is laying cables from Durban to cairo, making it possible to sell data and achieve mobile telephony.

Opportunities in Africa

Behind this trend lie three major changes over the past decade. The first was Africans' unexpectedly fast adoption of ICT services. In 2000, 11 million people in Africa had mobile phones. Five years later the number had grown to almost 200 million, and now it is fast approaching 400 million.

The pace of mobile phone adoption in Africa has defied all predictions. Cellular phone penetration on the continent is an "ongoing success story,"

There also has been steady growth in Internet access on the continent, from 3 million users in 2000 to more than 100 million in 2010. This upward trend will continue, as Africa literally becomes more closely wired to the rest of the world with the construction of a series of undersea cables. In the process, Africans became world leaders in "mobile web" technology — Internet access through mobile devices. Also revolutionary is the extent to which ICT now supports other economic sectors. Stock exchanges in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Abidjan cannot function without these technologies.

They make banking easier and accessible to more people, allow faster and more efficient medical assistance and are increasingly being used to help advance people's political participation.

Future plans / expanding into africa

Big time Strategic Group views Africa as a pregnant mother about to give birth to twins. The harvest is huge. South Africa continues to hold its own as the most attractive investment destination in Africa despite a continued reduction of its score we give it due to a slightly weaker business environment and a faltering growth outlook.

The where to Invest in Africa 2018 report released on Monday by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) showed that South Africa has fallen from first place for the first time since the inception of the report, ceding its place to Egypt which is now Africa’s most attractive investment destination.

However, the continents other powerhouse Nigeria moved outside the top 10 investment destinations on the continent for the first time, with RMB attributing this to the country’s short-term investment appeal having been eroded by recessionary conditions.

As Big time Strategic Group we view Egypt as an upcoming attractive investment, though three years of political Instability that limited its appeal. Its sizeable domestic market, relatively low unit labour costs and rapid uptake of technology have revived interest in one of the world’s first nation states.

Morocco joins its North African counterpart Egypt in the top. The integration of value chains and the progress of collaborations between big firms and SMEs in that country seem to have impressed offshore investors.

Nigeria’s outlook is also encouraging. We are encouraged by the peaceful transition of power and continue to believe in the country’s long-term economic viability based on the sheer size of its economy and the prospect of a demographic dividend.

Ethiopia’s prospect is well deserved given its stable economic environment, strong investment guarantees, natural resource base and programmes to develop skilled labour.

As Big time Strategic Group, we would look at those countries that gives us an opportunity to diversify our investment portfolios. The jury is out on energy, banking, insurance, transportation. We believe this would enhance the image and growth of Africa and satisfy the ever-hungry population. We strive to be the best diversified group of companies that uses ICTs and tech savy solutions to enhance the productivity of the sectors we operate in and better the lives of ordinary Africans.

Leadership Style

At work as a leader, I am participative and believe in delegating with accountability to me.

In business, l am transactional, allowing an open mind to gather my thoughts as l chaise the deals, a clear conscience to guide me, and an eye that knows when to strike. In the community l live in, l am transformational, allowing that light of hope to shine through, knowing that as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

The most important leadership lesson that you learn is to delegate. It is not about you. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.And my advice to aspiring leaders is that everything you imagine has the potential to become a reality and that perserverance and self-belief is very important. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you, and it is never too late to be what you might have been.

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