These 3 SA companies are geared for exponential growth – but only one stands out above the rest

A new ranking has been published showing which of South Africa’s top companies have the strongest potential to be an exponential organisation – businesses that show rapid growth built on innovation and technology.

The ranking was compiled by Africa Tech Week, Topco Research, xTech.Institute and ExO Works, measuring the growth potential of companies, based on the “exponential organisations” concept that was developed in a best-selling book of the same name by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest and Michael Malone.

An exponential organisation is a company that shows huge growth over a relatively short time by leveraging technologies, resources and other innovations that let it function through a structure far smaller than its scale or scope.

Some examples of such organisations would be platforms like AirBnB, Uber, Amazon or Netflix – all of which have grown massively over the past few years, off relatively simple and scalable products rooted in technology.

To determine where companies fall into this new type of business concept, the ExQ ranking was developed.

The data is gathered through a survey, where companies perform a 25-question diagnostic test to determine how exponential a given organisation is.

Participants grade their company on a scale of one to four, creating quantifiable metrics to providing a clearer understanding of where the organisation stands (relative to industry and non-industry peers) and where it would like to be.

The process also includes company analysis, staff interviews and other information that is made available publicly.

The higher the ExQ score, the more ‘exponential’ the company is, with the international benchmark being a score of 65.

“In 2015 an ExQ ranking was performed on the Fortune 100 companies. In the three and a half years since the original scoring, the companies in the top 10 grew by an average of 53% and those in the bottom 10 by 2%, underlining the importance of understanding a company’s ExQ,” ExO Works said.

South African companies

For the first time, an ExQ ranking has been compiled for the JSE top 40 companies, with three names shining through – Discovery, Vodacom, and MTN.

However, only Discovery scored within the “exponential organisation” range, ExO Works said, showing that South African companies still had a way to go to reach that rapid level of growth.

Company Score
Discovery Ltd 68
Vodacom Group Ltd 63
MTN Group Ltd 60
Naspers Ltd 58
Woolworths Holdings Ltd 58
Bidvest Group Ltd 57
Sasol Ltd 55
Bid Corporation Ltd 55
Nedbank Group Ltd 53
Standard Bank Group Ltd 53
Sanlam Ltd 53
Aspen Pharmacare Holdings 53
Mt Price Group Ltd 53
FirstRand Ltd 51
Intu Properties PLC 51
Absa Group Ltd 50
Invested Ltd 50
Tiger Brands Ltd 48
British American Tobacco PLC 47
Shoprite Holdings Ltd 47
Compagnie Financiere Richemont 47
Life Healthcare Group Holdings Ltd 47
Mediclinic International PLC 47
Netcare Ltd 47
Remgro Ltd 46
Brait SE 45
Old Mutual PLC 44
RMB Holdings Ltd 44
Mondi Ltd 44
BHP Billiton PLC 42
Steinhoff International Holdings 42
Growthpoint Properties Ltd 41
Anglo American 40
AngloGold Ashanti 39
Gold Fields Ltd 39
Redefine Properties Ltd 39
Fortress Income Fund Ltd 38
Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd 38
Sibanye Gold Ltd 38
Reinet Investments 35

“Although only one JSE company scored in the Exponential Organisation range, we are excited by South African companies’ potential to adopt the attributes shared by the world’s most exponential organisations in order to drive performance,” said ExO Works CEO, Emilie Sydney-Smith.

According to the xTech.Institute’s Willem van der Post, disruption does not happen because of technology but rather because of inertia – either not knowing about soon-to-impact change forces and therefore not doing anything about it, or, knowing but being unable to react appropriately to it.

“Exponential transformation is about so much more than just digital transformation. It is about culture, leadership, systems, technology and structuring. The good news is that there are very specific and deliberate action-sets that can position an organisation for exponential growth, and clearly the South African market has great potential to unlock and capitalise on that growth,” he said.


Read: 10 South African companies that have had a shocking start to 2019

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These 3 SA companies are geared for exponential growth – but only one stands out above the rest