Richard Knight, the Chief Financial Officer at Argility Technology Group, shares his views on navigating the impact of Covid-19 for ATG and its customers, plus the need for digital transformation, with other South African CFO’s.
Source: CFO Talks
The Argility Technology Group (ATG) has announced a strategic investment in Neo Retail Solutions – a company that specialises in the development, design and build, plus marketing, of automated retail technology solutions.
This is the enterprise software solutions group’s sixth investment in just over two years.
Neo develops smart, integrated selling platforms for high-risk fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) such as: medication, baby formula, batteries, shaving and tobacco products. Due to theft, many retailers cannot put these items onto their shelves. Neo Retail Solutions enables retailers to physically manage high-value categories in real-time via a cloud platform, thereby eliminating losses.
Marko Salic, CEO of ATG, notes that, historically, retailers resorted to moving these high-risk/high-value items to behind tobacco kiosks or in locked cabinets, which negatively impacted on sales. “Neo’s unique automated retail technology platform integrates menus of these goods into the stores’ point of sale. Once payment is made at the till point, a scan and collect function on the dispenser makes stock access easy anywhere and at any time. These systems are already successfully deployed in major supermarket chains.”
Salic says this investment is a strong addition to ATG’s current retail – including AI and IOT offerings, as well as supply chain and fleet expertise. “This move enhances our portfolio and expands our range and service delivery for current and future customers. Neo Retail Solutions is a good fit for ATG that will augment our goal of digitally transforming our core business activities. Also, the platform is ideally suited to incorporate many of the retail market-leading innovations we have developed over the years,” says Salic.
Ben Jansen van Rensburg, Sales Director, Neo Retail Solutions, says the company has a number of products in development, some dealing with the dispensing of high-value lines and others with open shelf inventory monitoring and management.
“Essentially, our market focus is on maximising convenience and securing stock while at the same time increasing the exposure and sales of high-value products. Neo Retail Solutions solves the problem of over and under ordering of stock, high shrinkage and low sales of premium FMCG items. The same platform can be used to provide 24-hour convenience solutions with mobile payment options,” says Jansen van Rensburg.
He adds that retailers require inventory security and real-time stock location intelligence, and Neo delivers both.
Jansen van Rensburg confirms that, initially, Neo is operating in South Africa, but has its sights set on global exports.
“The Argility value proposition for us is that we now have a partner with wide-ranging retail and technology capabilities. Its market reach in different retail categories equips it with a unique insight into the SA retail landscape. Argility’s experience – which spans almost 35 years in the development of retail technology – leveraging scale and expertise to achieve market share, was definitely a deciding factor in our discussions. Most importantly for us was the fact that we immediately connected with the Argility people, culture and business ethos and discovered a shared view of how retail is developing. This partnership will enable us to tap into ATG’s expertise to solve problems at scale,” he concludes.
FleetDomain is proudly part of the Argility Technology Group.
Source: IT Web
#TheLockdownSeries explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on small businesses, how they prepared for lockdown and it’s impact on operations and employees, as well as lessons learned that we can take into the post-Covid-19 era.
The Argility Technology Group (ATG) is a South African enterprise software development and services organisation predominantly focused on the retail and supply chain arenas.
The company provides end-to-end solutions inclusive of: managed services; service desk and industry 4.0 technologies. The latter is inclusive of data science, predictive modelling & advanced analytics; the internet of things; location technologies and cloud computing and gateway control platforms (GCP).
Tanya Long shares with us how the coronavirus has impacted The Argility Technology Group…
From an operational perspective, the only “impact” has been that we haven’t physically been at the office. Otherwise, work continues as normal as we have been able to leverage off of our technology platforms to collaborate and work remotely.
Sadly, the hard lockdown had impacted on our customer base as they are primarily in the non-essential retail sector. We have been working with our customers to assist them wherever possible to ensure that all parties come out of this lockdown and are able to get back on track.
“This has been an ideal opportunity to focus on digital transformation research and development, which will be vital for many retailers post Covid-19. In essence, this scenario has gifted us with an opportunity to do some really innovative development projects, which we are excited to showcase.”
We were well-prepared from a Health and Safety (H&S) plus operational perspective and just needed to ramp up existing practices.
At-risk employees were promptly identified and sent home to mitigate their exposure. As an organisation, we had invested a few years ago in ensuring that we utilised cloud infrastructure for all of our operations and that our employees were able to work remotely. All external meetings were changed to virtual meetings.
We also ensured that there was a stream of useful and reassuring information around the current situation, to both staff and clients. The latter is ongoing, with email, telephonic and social media communication.
The only real challenge has been, in some instances, connectivity. Where staff experience challenges in this regard, e.g. a temporary interruption of internet services, we defer work until such issues are resolved, which is typically within an hour or two. Any time lost is made up thereafter. Our ICT team are also on standby to assist where required. Luckily, these challenges have been few and far between.
“What has become extremely important is intentional communication with our teams and something that we will continue post-Covid-19. Not only for task management and collaboration but also to maintain morale and promote unity.”
The biggest challenge will be to get everyone back into the normal 8-5 workday and traffic. It is likely that most people will probably be so happy to be around their colleagues and back at the office, that this may not in fact be a challenge at all.
We acknowledge that there will be a knock-on impact from an economic perspective, so we will be carefully monitoring and mitigating costs whilst continuing to honour our obligations. A further challenge due to the economic knock-on would be monitoring payments coming in, as so many businesses have been negatively impacted.
The lockdown has actually highlighted ATG’s competencies and capabilities in terms of being able to work remotely without impacting our service levels; and has in fact underscored our core competencies.
The ATG Management Committee meets on a weekly basis for a situational review and we keep in touch with various teams on an ongoing basis, and with our clients. We will be ready and able to hit the ground running once the all-clear sounds.
We have ensured that everyone has the capability to work remotely – as explained, via virtual meetings and check-ins etc. Continual reassurance from a management perspective, checking on employee’s wellbeing, and emphasising that managers and execs are on call should they wish to chat, be it on a work-related or a personal basis. Highlight access to our Employee Wellness Program should that be required. And, of course, post-lockdown, the essential H&S measures will continue, as before, in addition to the aforementioned measures.
Yes, we are – on an ongoing basis. Account managers and execs are in constant communication with various stakeholders. Due to the strong existing relationships we have with our customers, it has been relatively easy to keep in touch. This validates the importance ATG has always placed upon our client affiliations. It is the essence of our approach to business – we partner with our customers.
As per the point above, we are constantly in touch, and our service levels have not been impacted. In fact, we have received several accolades during the lockdown period, around the efficiencies and support we have been able to provide to our customers during this challenging time.
The next six months will be demanding, due to the economic conditions which will prevail, however, with careful governance, we anticipate that ATG will emerge from this time stronger and even more dedicated to providing exceptional service. We will have learned new skills and reinforced our knowledge pool. We believe that the ATG DNA of Dialogue, Navigation and focus on Aspirations is what will help us ride this wave. From a human perspective, we will be even more grateful for our people and our relationships, and we will continue to support these valuable resources.
ATG prides itself on being at the forefront of innovation. 4IR technologies have been our focus for some time now and during this time, we have had the opportunity to fast-track development on our IoT, Data Science – Artificial Intelligence (AI), delivery tracking solutions.
The biggest lesson for all of us, worldwide, has probably been the changed perception of what is truly valuable.“ATG has been inspired by the continued dedication and commitment of our amazing teams; we have seen how everyone has pulled together under these strange circumstances, reaffirming our faith and trust in our people.” We will continue to value and support our relationships with staff and customers, and we look forward to nurturing them even further as we go forward.
Fleet Domain’s online Fleet Management Information System (FMIS) is reducing operating costs and improving safety for leading South African logistics firms. Jai Kalyan, Managing Director, FleetDomain, a subsidiary of the Argility Technology Group, says Fleet Domain’s FMIS offers an impressive value proposition to the market due to the affordable pricing. Moreover, local customers are reporting rapid ROI on the system.
“When fleets are managed more effectively, the risk is reduced and operational savings as high as 15% can be achieved,” said Kalyan.
“This is significant when you consider that a fleet of 100 passenger vehicles, LDVs and panel vans can cost around R24 million a year to operate.” Benefits achieved by effectively managing the fleet and influencing driver behaviour can be as high as a 28% increase in driver compliance and 50% decrease in accidents; while savings possible by better management of delivery routes, reduced speeding and harsh braking can be as high as 30% on accidents and 15% on fines and downtime.
The comprehensive Fleet Domain FMIS system enables fleet owners to efficiently manage operations, multiple service providers, drivers and vehicles through a single integrated platform, thereby reducing operating costs and improving safety. Featuring a full suite of integrated modules, FMIS delivers all the information needed, in a self-service, easy-to-use and seamless environment.
The system simplifies fleet administration, mitigating fraud risk and helping fleet owners make informed decisions about the running of the fleet, with modules including driving licences and PrDPs, vehicle licences, COFs and permits, fuel management, maintenance management – including servicing; repairs and warranties; fines management compliant with the new AARTO legislation; accidents; trip logging; inspections; acquisitions; disposals and reporting.
The solution also consolidates and enhances information from existing services and solutions such as fuel cards, tracking devices and onboard computers, and automatically flags exceptions according to parameters set by the fleet owner. The constantly updated manufacturer information on vehicle specifications and costs, together with per vehicle reporting on consumption, workshop maintenance history and total cost of ownership, is a strong drawcard for fleet owners and dealerships. This allows for manufacturer comparison and informed decision making on purchasing and selling for the fleet, thereby maximising fleet cost efficiencies.
Kalyan notes that product enhancements are ongoing with the goal of simplifying fleet management processes.
“Our most recent updates include the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and scanning modules, which have streamlined and expedited driver take-on by using technology to scan in drivers’ licences, ID documents and vehicle registration discs,” said Kalyan.
“Another recent addition is that of an Inspection Sheet with related photographic evidence and comments allowing for tracking and resolution of fleet maintenance actions. “Additional to its multiple features, FleetDomain meets the needs of local fleet owners by offering one of the most unique, flexible and powerful security systems available today, with the advantage of no capital outlay. Users simply need an internet connection, and a login name and password to run the application.”
Source: Intelligent CIO
Argility – a member of the Argility Technology Group – has revealed it has made a substantial investment in artificial intelligence (AI) solutions business Ashanti AI, a BBBEE level two start-up.
This is the enterprise software solutions group’s fifth investment in two years.
Argility CEO Marko Salic says due to the alignment of a mutual vision and mission, the company sees this as a strategic investment to bring Ashanti AI into the Argility ecosystem.
“This emerging business will be a strong addition to our current retail, supply chain, Internet of things (IoT) and fleet expertise, and we feel it will serve to drive our focus on combining analytics with trending 4IR technologies supported by our current products and solutions.
“The synergies between Argility’s vision and Ashanti AI’s mission made this investment very appealing to us and a good fit that will augment our goal of digitally transforming our core business focus arenas using intelligent software, data science/AI, and IoT. Ashanti AI assists companies to increase revenues, make decisions faster and improve processes using AI.
Ashanti AI CEO and founder Takalani Madzhadzhi is an actuary with a financial services background. He heads up a team of data scientists with a vision to provide the best AI solutions for partners and customers. The company’s current customer base includes a number of blue-chip corporates plus partnerships with strong international consultancy firms. He adds that going forward, the company is focused on building predictive analytic products for the retail, supply chain and financial services sectors.
Source: IT Web
We get to know Tanya Long, the Chief Operating Officer at Argility, to see what makes her tick…
While there are many projects that stand out for me as having a positive impact, I would say my most memorable achievement is the leadership roles to which I have been appointed to in my career. When I commenced working in the technology world, there were very few women in management roles. In my youth I was driven towards success and thought that I had to show up and compete with my male colleagues in their ‘game’ to get a seat at the table. I wore pin striped suits and tried to do things better on what was considered the norm for a tech leader. This honestly caused stress, as being something that you are not takes excess energy. There came a point in time, where close to burnout, I realised that regardless of the levels of success, if you compromise yourself trying to be something that you’re not, then the journey is meaningless. I re-evaluated my life, owned my femininity, and decided to become a leader who brings all of these strengths to the role – even if they were not outlined in the traditional job description – and structured my work to have time for my family and passions. I much prefer the leader that I am today and I’m sure my colleagues also do, by being true to myself, showing vulnerability and compassion and knowing that just because you’re wearing a floral dress doesn’t signify that you don’t expect results.
My father. He knew a guy, who knew a guy who was doing ‘great’ things in computers. So I did what any teenage girl would do, I rebelled and went backpacking. During this time I did temp work overseas, and got thrown a job where I had to work on a Wang PC. It frustrated me so much, that I signed up for a course to master it and loved it, that as soon as I arrived home I sent myself on a programming and networking course. Needless to say, there were many Christmas lunches that contained a few ‘I told you so’s’.
I am for servant leadership and a coaching or motivational management style. Ultimately as a manager and leader it is about people and how passionate, engaged and effective they are. If you believe in peoples’ greatness, empower them to be the best versions of themselves possible and hold them to that capability – you can truly call yourself a leader.
In our world it is customer experience, Internet of Things (IoT) and data science. The technology world is so competitive that a successful organisation needs to focus on bringing extra value to the customer, to simplify their lives. There is a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT but also a slight hesitancy to embrace these innovations which I believe is purely due to not knowing where and how to start, and whom to partner with.
I call them my 2 W’s. Walking my hounds and writing are my best stress busters. A couple of years ago after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way, I started writing morning pages first thing, a gratitude diary at night and then a weekly blog, which have been useful tools to help make sense of things.
To not hold on so long to something that’s not working. Over the years, there have been some stressful situations where I thought, ‘If I just tried this, or tried that’, I could solve this. The result is that I held onto certain things too long. I worked in a role that despite the challenges sapped my energy and for a few years made me completely unhappy. Eventually I had the courage to resign and in spite of the initial fear, I have never looked back. These days it is not that I give up; I have just learned to respect myself enough to know when to walk away.
Cloud tools and architecture; advanced analytics, inclusive of Machine Learning and data science, and IoT. The ultimate goal is, of course, the digitisation of the value chains and providing a personalised customer experience with frictionless service.
There is no doubt that solutions implemented in Africa have to understand the challenges, which are often not solved with international products. Solution design and hardware needs to be able to manage unreliable infrastructure in connectivity and power and must meet the needs of the customer segment that one is targeting.
I have been on a whirlwind of change since moving from Human Capital Executive to Chief Operating Officer of Argility, a few months ago. The benefit is being able to bring all sections of the business together to drive strategy and execution. Having oversight of sales and marketing now, together with culture, engagement and operations, has allowed me to impact from beginning to end. Going forward I’m thrilled to be able to begin with the end in mind and track it through the full loop.
Surround yourself with exceptional people who challenge you, if you’re the smartest person in the room then be worried. Be teachable and continuously push yourself to learn and take on new things. Set WIGs (Wildly Important Goals) weekly, monthly, yearly – for the right reasons.Be 100% committed to achieving them. Do the work; there are no traffic jams on the extra mile. Make sure you live in integrity and show the way. Never expect anyone to do something that you are not prepared to do yourself. And lastly have courage, take on things that scare you and if you fall down, own it, dust yourself off quickly, learn the lesson and keep moving forward.
FleetDomain, proudly part of the Argility Technology Group
Source: Intelligent CIO