Read the Case Study below and answer the questions that follow:
ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE AND LEADERSHIP: INSIDE VODACOM
There are, amongst others, two sets of travelers on the national highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The first of these two sets are the daily business travelers who mostly live in Pretoria and work in Johannesburg. The second set is leisure travelers who use the highway less frequently — usually passing thorough on their way to a holiday destination or shopping. For the daily business traveler it feels as if the Vodacom campus has always been there. For the leisure traveler it seems that every time they pass through Midrand, Vodacom has built yet another high-tech glass building. The reflections of these two sets of highway travelers echo the impact Vodacom has had on the new South African through its brand name, catchy “Yebo Gogo” slogan and cellular services to more than 8 million South Africans. On the other hand Vodacom is still growing with leaps and bounds. All in all, one can no longer imagine life without Vodacom.
The Early years
Since his days at Telkom, Alan Knott-Craig, currently Vodacom Group (Pty) Limited CEO had a vision for a leading cellular network. “It would be one of the world’s best networks, offering the best coverage, the best quality, outstanding service and be run by a team of dedicated professionals.” (Vodacom Corporate Profile, 2002). Such a leading cellular network would also be dedicated to providing millions of previously disadvantaged South Africans with affordable access to telephones for the first time.
After laborious negotiations with the government-in-waiting pertaining to black anticipation, subsided phones in disadvantaged communities and a Joint Economic Development Programme, Vodacom was granted one of two GSN network licenses in South Africa in September 1993. Based on the premise that the first network to establish its brand name would become the generic brand, Vodacom gathered the best people in telematics, network engineering and marketing to build a brand name from scratch and roll out the new network at a world record of ten base stations per day.
After a test phase during the historical elections of April 1994, Vodacom officially started commercial operations on 1 June 1994. Within the first month Vodacom attracted 50 000 subscribers and by the end of October doubled its subscriber base to 100 000. With volumes that increased 540 per cent in five months, the network capacity was expanded as fast as equipment became available — making Vodacom the fastest growing network in the world.
The Rugby World Cup in 1995 saw Vodacom’s marketing icon, “Yebo Gogo” became as famous as the Springbok, and in the same year Vodacom was awarded a GSM license in Lesotho. By the beginning of 1996 the number of Vodacom subscribers totaled more than 300 000 and the network in Lesotho was officially switched on in May 1996. By May 2002 Vodacom Tanzania Ltd boasted 200 000 subscribers, less than two years after receiving its license to operate. In December 2001 Vodacom Congo (DRC) s.p.r.l was born in Africa’s third largest country, with 60 million people, and today has some 300 000 subscribers.
Innovation and product development
Since its inception, Vodacom has placed a high value on innovation and doing things differently from other cellular networks worldwide:
• Vodacom launched prepaid cellular network in November 1996.