Thanks to a chance encounter through the Eastern Cape Liquor License Board, Boxfusion and Vodacom began a partnership that not only served to support this homegrown, Black-owned small business, but also paved the way for exciting advancements in the telecoms and technological space in South Africa.
A PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PEOPLE
The most successful business partnerships are built on mutual respect, a mutually strong sense of ethics, shared value and a shared sense of purpose.
What started as a great opportunity for Boxfusionto gain exposure to a strong enterprise technology provider’s footprint in government – and the ability for Vodacom to integrate solutions that bring ef ciency and accountability to government processes with its own technology stack – has blossomed into a partnership that is making a real difference to public sector service delivery in South Africa.
AT FIRST SIGHT…
This partnership came about when Vuyani Jarana, Chief Of cer of Vodacom’s Enterprise Business Unit, rst encountered a Boxfusion solution which had succeeded in an arena where many others had failed.
This was Boxfusion’s end-to-end solution for the Eastern Cape Liquor Board that automated the entire license application and management process.
When Boxfusion initially received the mandate, it was ambitious, and one that numerous large, international software vendors had tried and failed to tackle. But Boxfusion’s solution got the job done perfectly when it came to streamlining the application for and granting of liquor licenses in that province.
To date, Boxfusion’s solution remains the only one that’s been able to successfully automate the application and maintenance process, driving accountability and accuracy into the liquor licensing space.
From there, Jarana dug a little deeper and came across SmartGov for Administration, a solution focused on digitising and streamlining all administrative process within all spheres of government.
So when Vodacom inked its transversal contract for mobile communications services with National Treasury towards the end of 2016, Boxfusion got the opportunity to be part of the solutions Vodacom had on offer.
SIGNED AND SEALED
The signature of the National Treasury – Vodacom RT15-2016 contract was the catalyst for the companies to work together on some groundbreaking projects, says Ian Houvet, founder and director of Boxfusion.
“One of the best examples of this is our citizen engagement ecosystem, SmartGov for Citizens, which has been rolled out at the OR Tambo Municipality in the Eastern Cape,” he says.
SmartGov for Citizens champions an innovative approach to the automation of problem reporting, involving the citizen in the reporting of service delivery issues, using either app-enabled smartphones and USSD capable feature phones, as well as harnessing the same technology to co-ordinate problem resolution across an array of service providers.
“Vodacom not only helped us realise the full value a solution like this could offer, but brought home how timeous a solution such as this is, in the situation government nds itself today,” he adds.
And as Vodacom discovered, Boxfusion’s ability to solve “interesting” problems doesn’t stop with solutions like SmartGov for Citizens.
“As a company, Boxfusion is truly committed to evolving its existing solutions in SmartGov for Administration and SmartGov for Citizens, but is also branching out into solving the eGovernment challenge with SmartGov for eGov,” says Houvet.
Boxfusion’s agility in seeing a problem and quickly building a solution, has furthermore been intrinsic
in them becoming one of Vodacom’s partners for overcoming some of the interesting challenges faced in working with both their business and public-sector clients.
IT’S ALL ABOUT VISION
A large part of what makes this work, says Houvet is Vodacom’s forward-thinking nature.
In working with the telco over the past two years, he says, it’s clear that Vodacom sees itself as far more than a run-of-the-mill telco.
“Vodacom understands that we’re poised at a truly transformational moment for government, and that we can only achieve the kinds of results we intend to by working with an ecosystem of partners,” he says.
Vodacom has itself understood this mandate, and had to transform in order to embrace it.
When the partnership began, Vodacom account executives weren’t attuned to selling these kinds of solutions. But the undeniable opportunity in this space has spurred them on to embrace this change with a positive mindset.
For Vodacom, working together with Boxfusion in this new space has presented them with an unique opportunity to broaden the company’s value proposition. In fact, these new areas have already started shaping up to become some of their strongest growth areas.
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS
Summing up the relationship, Houvet says Vodacom should be commended for the great work it has done in enabling a small, locally owned innovator such as Boxfusion to leverage its scale to ful ll its goals for growth.
“Government plays an important role in developing local innovators and helping them realise their potential. Vodacom’s assistance in this process has been extremely valuable and the organisation should receive strong credit for its ongoing activities to develop local IP and local skills,” Houvet adds.
Looking forward, both companies feel the sky is the limit,
“We see massive opportunities for leveraging Vodacom’s African footprint for providing new and meaningful solutions to governments working towards delivering on their vision of eGovernment,” Houvet says.
There is massive potential for Vodacom to work with Boxfusion in adapting the current solutions they have on offer so that they’re able to play a more valuable role in the private sector. This is because in, some instances, the South African government is far more evolved when it comes to accountability and governance than many private sector organisations.
“We think there’s great potential in harnessing the strides Boxfusion has made in driving automation, accountability and ef ciency into government for the bene t of the private sector,” says Houvet.
“And we’ll certainly be exploring this for some time to come,” he adds.