Yaron Assabi is an entrepreneur with a passion for ICT and has been consulting in the ICT industry for the past 20 years in the US, UK and South Africa.
He is the founder of what is known today as the Digital Solutions Group (DSG) but started in 1998 as Digital Mall (Pty) Ltd trading as Digitalmall.com. Digital Mall wrote the mobile commerce platform utilised by iTouch to be first to market in South Africa, UK, and Australasia and capture the growing demand for mobile commerce.
My Definition Of Success | To me, success means to have a goal, plan the steps it will take to achieve the goal, implement the plan, and finally achieve the goal.
In the past few years I have realised that true success is about enjoying the journey, while focusing on the destination.
I Am Driven By | A sense of achievement that I am adding value to my family, friends, our employees, customers, partners and society as a whole. DSG stands for Digital Solutions Group, but we also believe it is about Doing Something Good. We like to apply our digital know-how to create positive social impact. Over the years some of the most fulfilling work we have been involved in has been for good rather than profit. I had the pleasure of working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation as their ICT strategist from 2005 and we created a text to screen application, using the 46664 short code, which raised a considerable amount of money. The strategy worked as everyone wanted to see their name on the big screen at the concert behind their favorite stars. We also worked with United Against Malaria on an e-commerce facility for the sell of bracelets as well as mobile learning throughout Africa alongside Nandos, Standard Bank, DSTV and MTN and the results were awesome. I am passionate about education and making the internet more accessible and more affordable for all.
My Highlights | The highlights of my life include my two daughters Gal Yal Assabi and Lee Ady Assabi and my wife Vivette.
In my career, there have been many moments where I felt proud of our team and our achievements, from the IPO on the FTSE in 2000, to the MBO at the end of 2001, when we won an innovation award with the IEC for the service delivery via Omni-channel platform for the elections in 2003/2004 and when we launched a multitude of services across Africa
The Difference Between Good And Great | The way you execute on your vision or strategy. You are only as good as your last performance and success requires relentless focus on execution.
A Key Talent | Simplifying complex solutions and creating win/win partnerships. One of the critical success factors in business is not to be a “me too” but offer additional value. When you focus on innovation you have to be solutions orientated and fail many times in order to succeed.
The ability to accept failure as a natural step for success and to learn from your mistakes and fix them with appropriate solutions is something that I learnt very early in my career. It requires perseverance and a “Can Do” attitude. At the same time I do not believe in re-inventing the wheel and therefore often look to partner with the right industry leader to be able to achieve the objectives of a new initiative, or to look at what the combined offering could offer based on revenue share. Partnerships can be complex but often provide a faster route to market and a more focused approach with each party focusing on its core business.
The Characteristics Of Success | Perseverance and relentless commitment to succeed would be the most important characteristics. You have to believe in your dreams and stay on course despite challenges and disruptions.
Principles I Live By | The DSG Values, which I feel can also be applied to your life are as follows:
Honest and open communication through accessibility, information sharing and freedom of expression.
- Continual Improvement, Growth and Development
Encouraging continual improvement to the benefit of customers and the Group by creating an environment for all individuals to develop to their fullest potential.
- Customer Service
A total focus on customer needs to meet or exceed their expectations at all times
- Empowerment, Accountability, Participation and Entrepreneurship
Encouraging individual empowerment and accountability and fostering participation and entrepreneurship.
- “Can Do” Attitude
We have a “Can Do Attitude” and live up to Walt Disney famous words “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”.
- Equal Opportunity
Promoting equal opportunity without any exclusion.
- Integrity, Professionalism and Ethics
Consistently conducting ourselves in an honest, professional and ethical manner
Pursuing quality as a way of life.
- We are all MAD (Meticulous Attention to Detail)
Being totally focused on the detail of everything that we do.
- Respect, Dignity and Trust
Valuing and respecting individuality, upholding human dignity and nurturing trust.
- Synergy and Teamwork
Harnessing the strength of each individual and the unit to provide superior value to the benefit of customers.
- Madiba Way
Living up to the legacy of Nelson Mandela and values ( Freedom , Tolerance , Generosity of Spirit, Peace , Forgiveness , Justice, Equality for All)
- Effective Leadership
Leadership that ensures decisive action, clear strategic direction and alignment of goals.
- Wealth Creation and Fair Reward
Optimising the creation of wealth by providing recognition and fair return to all.
Critical Skills I Develop | I work hard but smart. I value my time and others so always looking for ways to be more efficient. I love the “Kaizen” philosophy and the continuous improvement cycle. I re-invent myself every day and the business frequently, to keep up with the dynamic nature of the economy and business climate.
I always look at where technology could enable business to be more efficient or gain a competitive advantage. I do a lot of research on trends and innovation. I engage with customers to understand their challenges and look at appropriate solutions. I have learnt that “often pioneers return with arrows in their backs” and therefore planning a go to market strategy based on market maturity is critical. I learnt that every project success is dependent on people, process and technology and the alignment thereof and therefore look at a comprehensive solution that covers all critical success factors.
Every solution we design has to start on an excel spreadsheet and financial viability which demonstrates a saving in costs or generating more profit or both.
How I Use My Mind | I use visualisation as a way to begin with the end in mind. I can generally see the business opportunity in its entirety before I start the business or new project. I test the plan through a comprehensive business plan and I have learnt to be conservative in the approach and rather over deliver and under promise.
Lessons I Have Learnt |
- I learnt that you should never take anything for granted.
- People do not plan to fail, they fail to plan.
- People are truly your biggest asset but can be a liability so it is how much you are willing to invest in guiding the right results.
- Never worry about how much other people are making or what the competition is doing ….focus on your path and your ability to execute.
- Focus on building lasting win/win partnerships with your employees and customers.
- Life is short, play naked 😉