Group Innovation Officer's review

"The Group’s IT and innovation strategy aligns with the Motus vision to improve people’s lives by envisioning, innovating and creating new avenues of access to leading-edge mobility solutions."

Kerry Cassel

CEO – Financial Services &
Head: Innovation Technology

“The world has changed at an extraordinary pace and Motus’ ability to adapt has largely centred around the ICT infrastructure in place to enable remote working.”

We view this strategy through two lenses: internally focused, where IT and innovation are focused on leveraging our existing capabilities to create efficiencies and synergies; and simultaneously, externally focused, where we focus on partnerships or investments in technology and innovative concepts that allow us to capitalise both on existing and new opportunities to create value for our customers and for Motus.

Overview of Motus’ IT strategy

The importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has never been more visible than over the past 12 months. The world has changed at an extraordinary pace and Motus’ ability to adapt has largely centred around the ICT infrastructure in place to enable remote working. Previously implemented ICT strategies have meant that Motus was well placed to adapt to the new ways of working which have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

ICT presents opportunities to deliver services more efficiently while maintaining excellent customer service. Transformation is vital and this strategy evidences Motus’ commitment to being a forward thinking, proactive, and customer focused organisation. The benefits are not just felt by our customers, but also by our people and others that engage with Motus.

The COVID-19 crisis has seen a clear shift in the way customers wish to engage with Motus. Our online presence (such as motus.cars) is critical to capturing this shift and ensuring that customers are able to engage with us through whichever channels are most convenient to them, including digital channels and platforms. In addition to this, effective operation of back-office functions and systems are critical to ensure that our people are able to deliver vital services in their day-to-day roles. This strategy is technical in nature, but the overall message is clear. Motus is committed to investing in ICT and recognises the importance of ICT in its overall ambition to transform the way services are delivered. Significant milestones have been achieved, but our journey has just begun.

Our strategic focus areas are:

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Responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

By ensuring that we are positioned to provide and secure a hybrid workplace and digital platforms for customer engagement.

Developing appropriate responses to and defences against continually evolving security threats.

Globally, companies report a significant increase in malware and ransomware attacks, which is also mirrored in international markets. Motus has allocated additional resources and executive focus to improving controls and processes and developing appropriate responses to this ever-increasing risk.

Providing an improved Customer Experience (CX).

Digital customer experience is a key competence required to remain competitive. As customer expectations of our applications and our digital services have increased, our platforms have evolved to become a natural extension of our customers’ behaviour.

Adopting and integrating SaaS (Software as a Service).

The increasing adoption and popularity of cloud solutions have fundamentally changed how we use software. Motus has evaluated its applications and moved (or in some instances, is in the process of moving) applications to SaaS, as and where appropriate and with due consideration to cost implications.

Maintaining data privacy and governance standards.

Compliance with POPIA entails strict data privacy controls, making data security and governance one of the most pressing challenges we need to address. Compliance with POPIA has been a signifi cant focus area for Motus in the past two years, and processes and procedures throughout the organisation have been reviewed and amended where necessary.

With these new challenges will come new opportunities to use ICT to enable Motus to achieve efficiencies while maintaining and improving service delivery standards. ICT will be a key contributor to achieving Motus' vision. ICT is no longer just a support function; it has become a critical enabler to the business. It has the ability to transform the way services are organised and delivered. It has a fundamental role to play in improving efficiency, reducing cost across the organisation, exploiting income-generating opportunities, and improving the customer experience. Fundamentally, our ICT strategy supports, underpins, and aligns with the Motus vision to improve people's lives by envisioning, innovating, and creating new avenues of access to leading-edge mobility solutions.

Overview of Motus' innovation approach

In the automotive industry, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought innovative technologies to the fore and fuelled stakeholders' demands for further breakthroughs in the industry's efforts to respond both to the need for and the environmental impact of mobility.

However, many of the innovations and digital developments in the automotive industry have emerged from international markets, driven by disruptors and OEMs. At present, many of these trends, such as autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, electric and hybrid vehicles, and MAAS (mobility as a service), currently have limited applicability in South Africa with our sparsely populated rural areas, long city commutes, and aging car parc. We cannot afford to wait for international innovators to make breakthroughs in the hope that these innovations would automatically be of value in our home market. To respond to the South African motorists' unique needs and build a competitive advantage in the process, Motus needs to create South African solutions that overcome South African challenges.

Motus' focus on innovation is not unique. Our traditional competitors are also developing better ways to respond to under-served customer needs. Even more significantly, financial institutions and insurers are using their vast databases and financial strength to develop automotive products and services. Our response to this trend has been to develop and launch innovative products and services in collaborative partnerships with these institutions. For example, our new vehicle warranty plan, which is a joint venture with Discovery Insure, uses telemetry to measure and reward safe and responsible driving behaviour. This product is only possible through collaboration between two organisations with complementary capabilities and data sets pertaining to South African motorists.

Given our positioning as a distributor and retailer of vehicles, parts, and related products and services, our focus must be on improving processes in the company, creating better interfaces with our customers and franchisees, and developing new Financial Services and related products that offer fresh value, tailored to South African motorists' needs. Customers' needs influence and set the scope of our innovation efforts. While our innovation process encourages creativity, we focus our innovative thinking strictly on pre-identified Motus priorities that are vested in our deep understanding of the people we serve.

What defines Motus diagram

Accelerated development

Innovation has long been a vital strategic focus area and an effective tool in deepening our competitiveness and ensuring our relevance across the automotive value chain. Now, as the connected consumer becomes more prevalent in our markets, we drive innovation deliberately to disrupt our traditional business, supporting change which is often uncomfortable.

At the time of our unbundling from Imperial, Motus recognised the value of a structured innovation programme that benefits from the diverse perspectives throughout the Group. In the first two years post the unbundling, we made significant progress in establishing a culture of innovation. We established a brand, Motus Xponential (mx), and used it as a communications tool to reinforce the view that Motus encourages innovation and that management not only supports it, but participates actively in the innovation programme.

However, it became apparent that a platform that relied on in-person activities could never involve enough of our people to capture Motus' true potential to innovate. Establishing an online platform and offering a virtual innovation space would allow a more diverse and more widely spread group to participate. The process of establishing that online platform was well underway by the time the first lockdowns prevented further in-person activities. The timing was, indeed, fortuitous. It not only allowed us to continue our innovation activities but made it possible for thousands of Motus employees to participate.

Our online platform and process

We designed and built the mx process and platform with the express purpose of finding new ways to leverage our existing capabilities to maximise returns. We do this by partnering or investing in technology that will support our ability to explore new markets and capture new opportunities that will create future value and secure our long-term sustainability. During the year, our innovation strategy focused on improving collaboration across the Group to deliver strategic innovation projects. This allowed us to establish innovation at all levels as a core competency in supporting the Group's strategy for renewal and growth.

We built mx with four objectives:

  • Sharing innovation knowledge.
  • Enabling internal innovation.
  • Establishing strategic partnerships.
  • Deepening a culture of innovation.

We host strategic business challenges on the mx platform and then invite ideas from the mx community. Workable ideas get sponsorship from a division and become proof of concept projects/experiments which, if they are successful, are then commercialised by the division. This platform has allowed us to scale up the innovation capability within Motus and deepen our culture of innovation by driving Group-wide idea generation through mx Challenges, hosting keynote events and 'Collab Wednesday' initiatives, and partnering with Henley Business School South Africa to deliver integrated projects.

Benefits and results

In addition to innovation challenges, the mx platform facilitates access to innovation skills development through online courses, articles, videos, and workshops. More than 300 of our people participated in these skills development initiatives during the past year, and more than 1 000 employees attended eleven keynote events. The aim was to attract one in four employees to the mx community. We have grown our community to more than 3 900 mx community members since the start of the financial year and exceeded our initial target by 156%.

The idea-to-concept development journey
icon The idea-to-concept development journey

In the past year, seven business challenges were taken through the innovation funnel using our idea-to-concept development journey. This process entails starting with soliciting ideas from the business, shortlisting those with potential, building idea teams, and developing these ideas into implementable concepts to pilot.

These seven challenges produced 12 concepts that were selected to be piloted as experiments within the various Motus divisions. The innovation funnel as depicted below reflects the input over the financial year that resulted in 12 sponsored concepts.

What defines Motus diagram
What defines Motus diagram
Driving innovative solutions

Motus developed a brand-agnostic, personal vehicle matchmaking assistant, Moov, for first-time vehicle buyers. It was inspired during a Motus Design Sprint brainstorming session in 2019. The chatbot, with built-in machine learning, matches a user's personality, lifestyle, and budget to a vehicle, minimising the time it takes to find the best vehicle for the user's needs.

Motus' acquisition of a controlling stake in getWorth, an online vehicle trading platform, is a first-of-its-kind in our market. The proprietary technology behind the getWorth offering will enable Motus to do data-driven valuations on trade-ins, thereby enhancing the customer experience through real-time offers and reducing risk for Motus associated with trade-in pricing through traditional manual methods.

Motus launched motus.cars, South Africa's largest automotive group retail aggregator, which is set to revitalise the motor retail industry. Motus aims to capitalise on the trend towards digitisation, where 75% of Motus customers are making enquiries through digital platforms and are only visiting one or two dealerships before making a purchase, down from five visits as recently as two years ago. motus.cars is unique in South Africa. It allows customers to buy, sell, trade-in, apply for finance and book a service on a single platform. More than 300 dealerships and 30 new vehicle brands back it. Already, motus.cars lists thousands of pre-owned and demo vehicles.

Motus has also been the first to market with other mobility solutions tailored to our stakeholders' unique unmet needs. These include:

  • Leveraging our Big Data capability to develop a unique and innovative suite of value-added products and services tailored to meet every mobility need of our customers with the right offering at the right time.
  • Developing LiquidTrack, an 'Uber' for roadside assistance solution. The solution is delivered via a mobile app and creates operational efficiencies and an improved customer experience by increasing both the customer and service provider's ability to track a roadside event. LiquidTrack is a market differentiator allowing Motus to actively compete in the digital space by eliminating human intervention and paperwork.
  • Offering the first telematics-based warranty using driver behaviour.
  • Launching an innovative mobile application that enables the recording of a vehicles bodyline condition in seconds with the use of augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). This effectively automates the repair claims process, reduces human intervention and cuts the claims approval time from days to a couple of hours.
  • Offering a digital Know Your Customer solution for customer and juristic onboarding (a first in South Africa) when buying a vehicle.

In closing

Most of our innovation initiatives will be focused on the business-of-today, driving efficiency and sustainable innovation that maintains and grows our existing business. Innovation that supports the business-of-tomorrow will be transformative, creating ideas to ensure new growth for the future.

I am indebted to the more than 3 900 virtually connected Motus employees who have voluntarily joined the Motus Xponential community. This community, through mx, is forming the foundation on which we can build a culture of innovation and execution through collaboration across the Group. Their dedication and commitment to innovation will enable Motus to explore the future while excelling at managing the present.

Kerry Cassel

CEO - Financial Services & Head: Innovation Technology

20 September 2021