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Listen: dY/dX partner Nevo Hadas on Radio Helderberg – Digital Solutions To The Plastic Packaging Crisis

By | Automation, Case Study, Customer Experience, Design Thinking, Digital Transformation, Human Centered Design, Product Development

Created in partnership with Smollan, dY/dX has recently built a smart dispenser which could change the future of retail – reducing plastic usage and improving our consumption habits. Nevo Hadas, partner at dY/dX, recently spoke on Radio Helderberg to explain more. Listen to the interview below.

 

Annelia Preis:
Today we are speaking to Nevo Hadas, he is a partner at the digital transformation company dY/dX. What does dY/dX stand for?

Nevo Hadas:
dY/dX is an abbreviation for ‘dY’ over ‘dX’ which is a mathematical formula for the rate of change. It comes from differentiation – the change in Y over the change in X – which is very critical to what we do. We help companies deal with the changing world and find their way through digital transformation; helping them to create new products for customers and change their working processes. For example, now during COVID, we’ve been doing a lot of work with companies to help them master remote working.

Annelia Preis:
We won’t ever get rid of plastic completely but we can reduce our use of single-use plastics – such as encouraging people to use cloth or paper bags [as opposed to plastic ones]. What is your suggestion around reducing single-use plastics? 

Nevo Hadas:
So we started a project with a company called Smollan where we looked at the informal market – such as spaza shops – and the amount of single-use plastics that are being used there. What we noticed was that, as affordability takes a hit – so, for example, people can’t afford to buy a 20 Rand bag of rice – brands are making packaging smaller and smaller. That leads to the production of more single-use plastics. We’re also seeing that the value for customers is decreasing because they are still paying for the cost of packaging while receiving a small quantity of product.

We asked ourselves, what if we could get rid of packaging completely and allow people to buy as much as they need without any restrictions in terms of packaging size? This is taking us back to the old market process, where you can go to a market and buy according to the weight or amount of the product that you want.

Obviously today there is a bigger requirement for data and people also want to know what product they’re buying – for example, what kind of rice they’re buying. We created smart dispensers which allow the distribution companies and retailers to ship 10kgs of rice to the spaza shop; the spaza shop then has 10kgs of rice in the dispenser, and if the customer wants to buy 2 Rands worth of rice, they can come with their own container or bag, select 2 Rand on the machine and the dispenser calculates how much rice that is. We find really good uptake in informal markets.

Most recently we did a project with Nude Foods in Cape Town which is a zero-waste store – which exists in the more formal and more upmarket environment where people really understand the concept of zero-waste. So, using technology,  if, for example, you wanted to buy 100 Rands worth of nuts, you can pour into your own bag and it will show you how many nuts you are getting. Then you can go and pay!

Annelia Preis:
This makes me think of buying petrol and how you can tell the attendant how much you want according to how much you have to spend.

Nevo Hadas:
Yes, it’s exactly the same model. So, with that as an example, you don’t have to buy multiple containers of petrol, there’s just a big pump house. It’s an interesting model for retailers, the brands and the consumers because consumers can save money doing this. It increases affordability so it increases food security. They also know that they’re getting the quality of food that they paid for. Retailers often measure their store’s profitability on a per square meter basis and because you won’t really be using shelves, you’ll be using dispensers which are longer and narrower – so you’re getting more vertical value out of it – they can actually increase their yield and make more money out of less shelf and storage space. From a Brand point of view, they will be receiving all the live data; so every time someone buys something, they will know exactly what it is that the person purchased and they will be able to see the transaction volume. So the brands actually get a much better idea of how their product is doing.

Annelia Preis:
With COVID-19 now, everybody is afraid to touch things. Would this reduce that problem?

Nevo Hadas:
We have been playing with a zero-touch model where you can just put your hand in front of the machine and it will dispense. You won’t have to touch the device at all, so that is also a possibility.

Annelia Preis:
I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures in the media of what happens in our oceans and how the dolphins and whales are swallowing plastic. Hopefully, we can get rid of that!

Nevo Hadas:
Even though recycling does a lot, if you look at the challenges we face, particularly in South Africa with service delivery, recycling doesn’t help if no one is picking up and taking that plastic away. We have to think of creative ways to eliminate plastic from the system because we are just creating more plastic as we go. Recycling is not going to fix that problem. The only way to keep our oceans clean is to eliminate plastic packaging completely rather than trying to make it more refinable.

Annelia Preis:
There’s a lot of plastic going into our landfills. How long does it take to decompose?

Nevo Hadas:
If you look at most of the studies, it can take hundreds of years to decompose. It’s not a viable solution. Which is why a lot of people are looking at compostable plastics, but even that takes about fifty years or so to break down, so it’s not a quick process. Those plastics also become very expensive to produce, which means it still has a big [carbon] footprint. We’ve built so much of our retail models and thinking around packaging; it’s how the things are shipped and sold – the entire system is based around packaging. If you can ask yourself why packaging exists like this and get your head out of that mode, then you can start seeing that there’s a world where you can eliminate this plastic problem completely.

I’m a big believer that this is going to be a key part of the future of retail – that we will move to a world where we are only consuming what we need and we are consuming in smaller quantities. There are benefits for the entire value chain in moving towards a package-free solution.

Listen: Nevo Hadas on Channel Africa – Digital Transformation In Retail

By | 4IR, Automation, Case Study, Customer Experience, Design Thinking, Digital Transformation, Human Centered Design, Product Development

Half of the global plastic waste is from packaging. Since only 9% of plastic is recycled, our landfills are overflowing and our ecosystems are being damaged. Retailers can no longer ignore the demands of a quickly growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers. To tackle this problem, dY/dX partnered with Smollan and Nude Foods to test a new smart dispenser which could change the future of retail by removing the need for plastic packaging altogether. Nevo Hadas, a dY/dX partner, spoke on Africa Midday on Channel Africa to explain how the concept was born and why it is important.

Transcript

Lebogang Mabange:
For the entire month of July, people all over the world took part in ‘Plastic Free July’ – a global challenge to reduce personal consumption of single-use plastic. In line with the growing demand for more environmentally-conscious retail, dY/dX, a digital transformation practice in South Africa, partnered with Nude Food, South Africa’s zero-waste retailer, to create a solution which would address the issue of single-use plastic packaging in the form of digitally-operated smart dispensers. Nevo Hadas, partner at dY/dX, now joins us to further discuss this. Let’s start with what single-use plastic is and how it impacts the environment.

Nevo Hadas:
Single-use plastic is used in packaging for foodstuffs or cleaning materials. It’s generally plastic that cannot be recycled and is not easily disposed of. There has been a massive increase in single-use plastics over the last few years mainly because as consumer affordability decreases, manufacturers have been trying to get their products into smaller packaging sizes to make it more affordable. This means that there is more packaging being produced than ever before. The challenge is that a lot of this non-recyclable plastic ends up in landfills, oceans, rivers and all our ecosystems.

Lebogang Mabange:
How did dY/dX go about finding a solution to this plastic waste problem?

Nevo Hadas:
So the project we did started out by looking at the informal sector. With our client, Smollan, we looked at how we could change the behaviours and social impacts in informal retail – from spaza shops to people who sell items on the side of the road. One of the things we realized was that the solution to reducing plastic packaging wasn’t to make it more recyclable but to actually eradicate it.

Following a design-thinking process, we tried to understand what it was that consumers are looking for in those markets. From the research and the interviews we did, we could see that affordability was a key component from those customers. So we asked, what if we could create a smart dispenser that dealt with a lot of the challenges that people in that value system face?

If we look at it from a brand perspective, what they’re really worried about is that their product is presented well – that’s why they like the packaging. It helps them to identify themselves, for example, Tastic Rice. It also helps them understand how much volume they’re selling into the market. From a consumer’s perspective, when they buy a bag of Tastic Rice, it helps because they know what they’re getting. From a retailer’s perspective, they want to have products that are affordable enough for their clients so they’re looking for a range of sizes and prices of Tastic Rice.

By moving towards a smart dispenser, we get rid of that plastic packaging completely. The consumer can come with their own container or paper bag and they can choose how much they want to buy. So, for example, if they want to buy 5 Rand’s worth of rice. The machine automatically calculates how much rice that is and keeps the rice fresh in an air-tight environment. So to reduce the impact of plastic, we eradicated the use of plastic as much as possible. In doing that, we are able to rethink pricing and affordability for a lot of products in that market.

Lebogang Mabange:
People are becoming more aware of the environment and the need to find sustainable solutions. Is environmentally-conscious retail something that we are going to see more of?

Nevo Hadas:
I think it’s a definite trend. We’ve done a few of these prototypes in different kinds of environments. What was interesting for us when we were doing the research is the different needs and levels of awareness. In the spaza shop or informal environment – it’s driven more by price than packaging. There’s a stronger need for low-cost items. There is a growing awareness of the importance of recycling because people can see the trash around them and service delivery doesn’t always deal with waste effectively.

If you’re moving into the upper end of the market, into the formal market, there is an emergence of package-free retailers which have no packaging at all. They use dispensers. The latest prototype we built was actually based in one of those shops. If you look at how much growth there is in that sector, not just in South Africa but globally, you can see that it is a massive trend and all retailers are looking at it. I think it makes financial sense for manufacturers and retailers to cut out all this plastic which no one really wants. From a consumer point of view, I think it simplifies their lives and helps them to know that they are not damaging the earth with their consumption.

Lebogang Mabange:
The smart dispenser looks after the environment on a macro-level. How can we start implementing it in our daily lives so that each one of us can help make a difference to the environment beyond ‘Plastic Free July’? 

Nevo Hadas:
It’s the way that we choose to purchase and consume. It’s a tricky thing, depending on where you are in the market because there aren’t necessarily options for everyone. For example, in Cape Town, there are shops like Nude Foods, which we partnered with to test the latest prototype, who are purely focused on this type of thing. You can go there with your own containers and fill them up and that’s one way to reduce your impact. Another way is to buy in bulk because then you’re purchasing fewer packets. A third option, which I think is really relevant, is eco-bricks. You take an old plastic bottle, like a milk bottle, and instead of throwing your plastic packaging away, you put them into that bottle. You cram the bottle full of plastic packaging and then the bricks are used for building or ecologically-friendly construction. It also reduces the space required in landfills which is also really critical.

Case study: Vodacom – Agile Marketing Transformation

By | Agile Marketing, Case Study, Digital Transformation, Service Design | No Comments

Background

Vodacom, a subsidiary of Vodafone, has been undergoing an agile transformation, accelerating not only the impact and innovation in its business but also on its agencies. As one of the largest advertisers on the African continent, the volume of work generated by it is immense. Co-ordination across multiple agency partners, internal approvers, and marketing specialists became a key factor in the smooth running of the system.

Our Challenge

Vodacom marketing needed to prepare its marketing suppliers to increase both the pace and volume of work while staying within the existing budgetary constraints. With over 300 people involved in the ecosystem between internal stakeholders and suppliers, this was no small task.

People, Process, Systems

For any new system to take hold, people need to buy into it. This means that before you can re-engineer the processes, you have to create a behavioural change within the teams that enables the new to replace the old. While many leaders speak about change, few are willing to change. Vodacom’s leadership team drove the change and championed the initiatives.

Creating Agile Processes – “Agile Marketing”

Agile, was not developed with marketing in mind. The first phase of the project required understanding how we implement agile with the different agencies and Vodacom through a series of workshops and immersions. Using service design methodologies, we mapped out the existing process flows to identify points of friction and emotional distress both at the agencies and at Vodacom.

It quickly became apparent that there were challenges on both sides of the table and the teams came together to identify process solutions to improve their ability to work together. A hybrid KANBAN process was developed clearly identifying handover and quality requirements to simplify interactions.

Service Design – from interviews to prototypes

With this understanding, the processes were mapped and revisions made to ways of working. The volume of work however quickly outstripped any physical board and a digital platform was required to support this volume of work. Choosing between a series of vendors by prototyping the process. Pipefy was selected as a technology platform due to its functionality and ease of deployment.

Prototyping Change – Unique-unique but the same

From working with one agency, we moved into all of the agencies. All we had learned by working with Ogilvy (the lead agency), was transferred into an onboarding program. This took all of the agency teams through an agile marketing immersion, service design to reimagine processes and systems customisation, enabling each agency to work in their preferred way to meet their objective but still provide a unified overview for Vodacom.

Systems Development – “It looks great on paper”

The challenge with process development is that it often looks great on paper but doesn’t work as expected in the real world. Working closely with the Pipefy teams in Brazil and the agencies, the system development followed an agile methodology with weekly iterations being developed, tested by users and modified based on their feedback.

Support and Change Management

A support and change management process was put in place to make rapid changes as issues were discovered in the process and new ideas were developed. A steering committee of users was identified to give ongoing feedback on new changes to ensure that fixes did not create new challenges.

Outcomes – From inception to live in 6 months. 

From inception to live, the project encompassed 6 months. While implementing new systems is never easy, the results have been impressive. The number of active jobs managed by the system rapidly grew to almost 100% of the total jobs delivered, over the first 3 months, and as the teams settled into the new ways of working, the increased visibility has benefited all the parties.

Learnings – You cannot change systems without changing behaviours

Behaviour change is an adaptive problem (i.e. has no obvious solution) vs a technical problem (i.e. known solution) because each team and its leadership dynamics are different. Without allowing the users to feel a sense of mastery and control over the new systems, you won’t get adoption – so having an inclusive process is key.

Inclusion, however, does not mean death by committee and facilitating a strong plan of action with short term momentum (i.e. weekly reviews, decisions and changes based on decisions) drives the project to completion. The ability to prototype and test the process on the new system quickly was critical to the success of the project. Post-implementation support and change management ensure ongoing utilisation.

DYDX speaks to SABC News about Smollan’s innovative new retail solution

By | Case Study, Design Thinking, Human Centered Design, In the news, Product Development, Research, Service Design | No Comments

DYDX collaborated with retail solution company Smollan Group to create an innovative solution for the informal market.

The Gcwalisa dispenser provides a cost-effective solution for buying products, potentially changing how FMCG products are sold and helping to reduce the previous impact of the plastic packaging on the environment.

DYDX’s Templar Wales speaks to SA Today on SABC News about the dispenser, the process behind creating the solution, and how this has impacted on the community and the environment.

 

DYDX moves Susu from concept to customer within 18 months

By | Case Study, In the news, Pricing, Product Development, Research, Service Design | No Comments

Rapid innovation in healthcare.

DYDX, a digital transformation practice based in Cape Town, partnered with Beninese-French visionary Ms Bola Bardet to create and launch Susu Healthcare. This first-of-its-kind full-service digital healthcare company was taken from concept to launch in less than 18 months with the help of the experts at DYDX.

Susu, that recently won the Sanofi in Africa Health Challenge at the Vivatech 2019 Conference in Paris, provides a combination of insurance coverage and medical services to the families of the African diaspora in Europe.

“DYDX used a service design process to develop Susu’s products and services,” said Nevo Hadas, managing partner at DYDX. “We focused on the different needs of the customer in Europe and the beneficiary in West Africa to design a system that delivers on both.”

Rolling out in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, Susu is meeting a real need for the Ivorian community living in France. “The African diaspora takes pride in providing financial support to their families left in their home countries, predominantly ageing parents and those with chronic diseases,” explained Bola Bardet, Susu’s founder and chief executive “Money sent back to Africa for healthcare amounts to US$8 billion per year, yet quality healthcare, medication, and insurance is still unavailable in many African countries.”

With this problem in mind, Bardet approached DYDX (then &Innovation), to support her to understand this problem better and co-design a solution.

“Susu healthcare is a game-changer in the world of healthcare services and health insurance,” Hadas concluded. “We built a cutting-edge digital platform to enhance all its operations and customer experience, but this is just the enabler. Its strength isn’t in superior artificial intelligence or crypto currency, but in its dedicated focus on the markets and people that insurance companies ignore or overcharge.”