Integrated Report 2020

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Performance review

Digital and data

Connecting Africa and the world, and driving differentiation, optimisation and disruption, means we must acquire, develop and deploy leading digital capabilities. Our digital strategy aims to achieve brilliant basics, to grow our core business sustainability, and to embed the capability to secure and scale new business at pace.

Our digital platforms and capabilities are a critical enabler of all our strategy pillars and enhancing these will create value across our six value lenses: enabling growth, improving efficiency, enhancing experience, mitigating risk, building our brand and optimising capital.

Go digital, be digital, enable digital

Becoming 'One Imperial' and positioning ourselves as the 'Gateway to Africa' means placing IT and digital initiatives at the heart of our enterprise. Our technological prowess will determine the strength of Imperial's differentiation, market relevance, client experience, revenue and growth. Our digital focus areas have been designed with these imperatives in mind, and with an eye towards accelerating our transformation journey from a digital deficit to a digital advantage, leveraging specific digital excellence in parts of the business to benefit 'One Imperial'.

Our entrepreneurial beginnings, portfolio business model and recent inorganic growth have left us with a legacy of decentralised IT solutions and initiatives which are not all ideal to scale and progress to the 'One Imperial' business model, culture, and brand. This, in combination with the accelerating pace of digital capabilities and the related escalation in expectations of key stakeholders, has highlighted the need for a unifying digital strategy underpinned by cohesive IT architecture and standardised processes, which enables digital optimisation and innovation across the group.

Our digital focus areas

Our strategy of 'Go digital, be digital, enable digital' is how we will become market leaders and accelerate digital enablement within the group.



Leverage the business strategy to derive the IT imperatives and guide the development of a holistic enterprise architecture.



Accelerate th e adoption of innovation within the business and maximise strategic value from venture fund investments.



IT focus on catering for solutions to Logistics and Market Access as well as enabling functions, to improve client experiences.



Within the markets we operate, support market growth and client experience through innovation, data insights and digital platforms.

Digital outcomes
  • Brilliant basics: transform the core business to drive up investment capacity.
  • Growth bets: Grow the core business to fuel and sustain growth.
  • New value propositions: Identify and scale growth of new business at pace.

Our digital strategy

Our digital strategy is key to transforming Imperial, enabling growth and strategy by providing coherent processes and systems that support core business and strategic delivery, and by facilitating access to new value propositions and revenue streams. Ultimately our digital strategy should enable us to build partnerships across our ecosystem, and to identify, pre-empt, integrate and own potentially disruptive technologies and businesses.

Our digital strategy is both a driver of and facilitated by our 'One Imperial' strategy; a unifying digital strategy is not possible without an integrated and unified approach to the business, and our ability to truly become 'One Imperial' cannot be fulfilled without underlying foundational IT processes and initiatives being in place. Our digital initiatives and imperatives are similarly foundational to our ability to capture new opportunities, becoming data driven, amplify value, differentiate, meet and anticipate our clients' needs, and to innovate.

How we support the 'One Imperial' strategy

Amplify value  
  • Shift from being the custodian of IT, to becoming the amplifier of business value.
Capture opportunities  
  • Accelerate Imperial’s response to capturing business opportunities through the use of technology and data.
  • Become our own disrupter by challenging legacy business processes based on digital technology-led innovations.
Differentiate in
the market
  • Enable businesses to differentiate themselves by deploying technology solutions and becoming data driven.
Client centricity  
  • Align our way of working to product-oriented teaming, more closely linked to solutions that allow for better, more customerfocused IT services.
powered by IT
  • Drive digital transformation through an integrated digital and IT delivery method, ensuring that maximum digital and data benefits are realised at scale.
Key digital initiatives

Our digital strategy centres on using best-in-class and emerging technology to provide clients with the innovative solutions they require to differentiate themselves from their competitors. We embrace market disrupters and leverage innovation so that our clients will not only survive but thrive now and into the future.

We aim to provide clients and principals with best-in-class and complete solutions, to access their end-consumers through an integrated sourcing, logistics and sales service. Our strategic digital and data initiatives are aligned with our focus areas and designed to deliver growth.

Structured value-focused initiatives
  Digital fleet management   Ecommerce and fulfilment   Mobile commerce
  We will leverage existing and new technology to transform road freight operations. This initiative will improve asset management in the field, increasing efficiency and reducing costs by providing visibility, analytics and actionable insights.   We are driving direct-to-consumer warehousing and delivery management capabilities through digital enablement. We will leverage this capability to further enable our market access reach.   By using available digital methods and tools to automate sales force, merchandising and cash-van processes, to enable traders, and to ensure an end-to-end integration of our order-to-cash processes.
  Business benefits include:
  • Increased decision making effectiveness.
  • Reduced operational costs, including capex, diesel spend, overtime, tyre spend and insurance.
  • Improved vehicle utilisation.
  Business benefits include:
  • Leveraging existing warehouses and delivery channels to reduce delivery times and costs.
  • Micro-picking, small unit delivery and reverse logistics capabilities.
  • End-to-end visibility.
  Business benefits include:
  • Improved customer/trader experience.
  • Increased orders placed for available stock.
  • Reduced errors in order taking.
  Digital and data outcomes
  • Improved fleet utilisation, diesel consumption and optimised driver cost.
  • Enhanced visibility and reliability to improve service delivery.
  • Predictable continuous freight flow management.
  Digital and data outcomes
  • Contract logistics excellence.
  • Channel extension to direct-to-consumer.
  • Entry into new specific industries with high business-to-customer propensity.
  Digital and data outcomes
  • Standardised processes enabled through technology.
  • Improved visibility of demand patterns.
  • Channel development for principals.
  • Data-driven decision making.
  • Generate new revenue streams.
  Control towers   Point of sale integration   Value from data
  With focus expanding from logistics to supply chain control towers, the benefit of process integration across different supply chain role players is increasing beyond operational efficiency to optimal product availability.   We will enhance the ability to harvest and interpret point of sale system data to gain better insights into our consumer demand patterns and overall supply chain.   We will use data to drive decision making for growth and efficiency and to add value to create future opportunities. We have a large amount of data that needs to be translated into meaningful, actionable insights and precise decision making.
  Business benefits include:
  • Increased operating efficiency.
  • Enhanced operational visibility.
  • Improved product availability and optimised inventory.
  Business benefits include:
  • Improved principal understanding.
  • Improved demand forecasting.
  • Increased decision making effectiveness.
  Business benefits include:
  • Improved business performance through timeous insights.
  • Create predictive models based on historical data.
  • Monetise data.
  Digital and data outcomes
  • Reduced standing times.
  • Improved reliability.
  • Supply chain optimisation.
  Digital and data outcomes
  • Reduced returns.
  • Channel development.
  • Demand creation.
  • Generate new revenue streams.
  Digital and data outcomes
  • Business performance insights.
  • Service measurement and improvement.
  • Waste minimisation.
  • Generate new revenue streams.


As we embark on our growth
journey, IT, digital and data
need to be positioned
at the heart of
our business.
Technology enablement initiatives
Key IT initiatives

Our IT initiatives are targeted at supporting business operations and strategy through standardisation and centralisation of IT infrastructure, developing and implementing business-specific solutions across Logistics and Market Access, and driving enterprise-wide solutions across key functional areas including finance, HR and communications.

Shared IT

We will deploy core IT components that enable growth for the future including infrastructure, security, data and analytics enablement, core mobile technology platforms and IT services.

Business IT

We are implementing business specific solutions that converge towards end-state enterprise architecture which support the value chains of the respective businesses.

Functions IT

We are driving enterprise-wide solutions across finance, HR and communications that support the delivery of ‘One Imperial’ ethos.

Innovation venture fund

Our disruptive innovation fund, in partnership with Newtown Partners, makes available an initial capital investment of USD20 million to provide a mechanism to invest in innovative developments. We refined our investment principles and focus areas to fund high-potential start-ups in freight logistics, supply chain management and healthtech that use emerging technologies and disruptive business models to drive value.

During the year, we concluded our first three investments in a digital distributor, digital freight forwarder and a point-of-care diagnostics enabler.

Field Intelligence is a technology-enabled pharmaceutical distributor for community pharmacies in Nigeria and Kenya.

Field Intelligence enables disruptive new sources of customer value by proactively managing stock levels and expiry, as well as working capital finance, with more opportunities to address more of the value chain as it scales.


Shypple is a digital freight forwarder, based in the Netherlands, that currently serves predominantly the port of Rotterdam and Schiphol airport.

Price and supply chain transparency, as well as certainty of supply and demand are disruptive drivers of future value in air and ocean freight forwarding and key to Shypple's value proposition.


RedBird supplies proven rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and related hardware to pharmacies in Ghana. RDTs disrupt traditional healthcare diagnosis because they are effective in low resource, point-of-care environments and require little training. RedBird augments this capability with flexible financing and patient healthcare monitoring software.

Each of these minority investments have a time-to-value of five to seven years and were selected on the basis that they exhibit capabilities that may become strategically relevant to Imperial at that time and at commercial scale. These startups are positioned to grow rapidly in their home markets before leveraging their disruptive competitive advantage to enter new geographical markets and service areas, reorganising value chains, addressing new customer segments more effectively than before and displacing incumbents in the process. As they scale, some of these startups will become increasingly integrated into Imperial's value chain, where they will continue to both disrupt existing markets and enhance the competitiveness of our value proposition to clients.

Investing in innovative technology, relevant to our business and aligned to our strategy will allow us to mitigate the risk of disruption, positioning the group at the forefront of innovation and allowing us to capitalise on the ongoing evolution of technology.

Our pragmatic approach to investing in innovation will support the strategic alignment of our investments as we continue to investigate new investment opportunities and partnerships. Our pipeline includes a range of opportunities from entering the pipeline and doing due diligence research through to granting an investment mandate.


In the coming year, we aim to align and initiate formalised roadmaps prioritising digital capabilities, enterprise architecture and data-driven decisions. This will be measured by roadmap completion and signoff, and implementation progress. Our focus will be on the implementation of digital fleet management, mobile commerce and process automation capabilities in the shorter term, with ecommerce and fulfilment implementation being completed in the medium term. Beyond the value of specific initiatives, we are excited that our consolidated digital strategy, and specifically our innovation venture fund, will become a powerful catalyst for awakening the realisation within the organisation that innovation - whether it is improving and refining our processes and systems, or doing something entirely new to drive value for Imperial and our clients - is everyone's business.