MSc BIS Field Trip 2022

- Bambanani -

The Diary

Where business dreams come true...

The FHNW organizers welcome you to the diary of the...

...Field Trip Local Edition 2022!

The Diary structure is such that for each company/university presentation there is an article, followed by its authors (i.e. students to whom the visit was assigned), and some photos taken during the talk. For each extra activities only photos are shown. Presentations are shown in chronological order from the first event to the most recent one.

Enjoy, and let yourself inspire...

Presentation of Swiss Embassy/CSIR

The presentation of the Swiss embassy in Pretoria was held by three members of the embassy. They initiate and support collaboration in different fields of research and innovation, education, and government. Besides this collaboration, they work with Swiss companies together to support new technologies like blockchain or artificial intelligence. And they are focused on how to make an Ecosystem, especially in education, research, and innovation. Another initiative is about the consulting of South Africa's entrepreneurs and schools. The goal is to spread the insights of the Swiss education all over the world.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships, Skill Development, and Higher education Collaboration are the main focus of the Education Collaboration approach. For the advancement in frontier science: Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, Switzerland and South Africa are engaged in joint research projects since 2008.

Focusing on innovation has been the major goal of this organization of adventure. Barring in mind the future technology, there are some activities that both countries are collaborating on the Innovation approach: Swiss South Africa Business Development Programme, Academia to Industry Training (AIT), and Innovation Challenges and Projects. High-level Governmental Meetings, Conferences, Events and Workshops, and Delegations are the activities that are done for connecting.

An interesting topic we talked about is inequality. They showed us a picture of Sandton and Alexandria. On one side are the houses of the rich people and on the other is the township. We talked about the B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) act where the government tries to reduce the inequalities. Those inequalities in South Africa are sometimes a problem. On the other hand, there are changes and advantages to this diversity.

Sandton and Alexandria

Engen Oil25.01.2022

Engen Oil is one of the biggest oil companies in South Africa, operating approximately 1’280 service stations across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. The Engen group is mainly focusing on marketing petroleum, lubricants, functional fluids, and chemicals. The group has extensive storage and distribution facilities with a transport fleet of over 200 vehicles and 4 large shipping vessels.

On the 25th of January, we had the opportunity and pleasure to hear from Peter Du Plooy, the CIO of Engen Oil. He started by presenting the South African business environment and the Covid-19 impact on the country’s GDP and the industry. After a brief discussion about the economic recovery estimates post Covid-19, we switched to the topic of Business & IT strategy. We were presented 3 ways of Business & IT strategy creation. Nowadays no business can run without a resilient IT organization, thus we agreed on the importance of the Business & IT strategy co-creation.

Mr. Du Plooy continued by introducing us to some examples of the IT Operational strategy of Engen Oil and how IT is supporting smooth business operations while transitioning towards a Lean IT organization.

We finished the day by discussing the importance of IT democratization and the fusion of business and IT knowledge into empowered teams. In such an organization, the role of the CIO changes slightly and the main role becomes to equip and empower others to safely build and maintain digital capabilities.

Township Tour: Mr. Mzu Lembeni • 26.01.2022

On Wednesday, 26.01.2022, the BIS field trip study group had the pleasure of being guided by Mzu from iMzu Tours through townships near Cape Town in South Africa.

Mzu Lembeni, a Khayelitsha local and the driving force behind Imzu Tours, launched the company in 2011 after years of wanting to show tourists Khayelitsha, the township where he grew up. Since then, he has organized and led more than 10’000 township tours, connected thousands more tourists to township life, has expanded to include the township of Langa, and has given a percentage of each tour back to the communities where iMzu Tours operates.

Our tour first led through Langa, a small township with around 50’000 people living there. He showed how people live inside the small container houses, and walked us through a beer brewery and art store. It was very impressive. The people only have a bed, a tv, and a small kitchen in their little container where they live with their family of usually around 5 people. Some still cook with fire. The bathroom is outside and shared with several families. As we can imagine, the winters are very hard. In the container houses, it gets very cold and they are not all watertight, so when it rains, they have problems using electricity. Therefore they also have problems with fires.

Then the tour guide went to the Khayelitsha township with over 390’000 people living there. He walked us through a government-owned primary school. There we learned to count in the African language Xhosa: Zintandathu = 6, Zisixhenxe = 7, …

Later he showed us a flea market and tried to find the spinach king, the owner of the spinach king restaurants. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find him so he went to a coffee culture restaurant in Khayelitsha where we had the opportunity to talk with an employee of the coffee shop.

She explained that they try to bring the coffee culture to the locals because it was not so popular there. Before opening the coffee shop, they started with a bike shop (Khaltsha Cycles), which is still existing and flourishing next door.

It became clear that the conditions there are certainly not the same as in Switzerland. Nevertheless, there are consistently innovative ideas coming out of townships.

When you take an Imzu Tour, you are giving back to the people of the Townships and making a meaningful difference in their lives.


Danilo Dattilo

Nicolas Stucky

South Africa is Africa's southernmost country with nearly 60 million people which is formally known as the Republic of South Africa (RSA). The country has a population of 1,221,037 people and is the world's 23rd largest country (471,445 square miles). Pretoria, judicial Bloemfontein, and legislative Cape Town are the three capital cities of South Africa. Johannesburg is the country's capital. Around 80% of South Africans are of Black African origin, and they are separated into ethnic groups that speak a variety of African languages. The remaining population is made up of the continent's largest populations of European (White South Africans), Asian (Indian and Chinese South Africans), and Multiracial (Colored South Africans) ancestry. According to the 2011 census, Zulu (22.7 percent) and Xhosa (21.7 percent) are the two most commonly spoken first languages (16.0 percent ). The following two are European in origin: English (9.6%) symbolizes the history of British colonialism and is extensively used in public and business life; Afrikaans (13.5%) is derived from Dutch and serves as the first language of most Coloured and White South Africans.

Uhuru is Africa`s first Consumer Electronics brand and manufacturer of home and personal electronics. Uhuru`s ambition during the next 10 years is to connect 500 million people on the African continent to their products and services.

Uhuru is founded by Daniel K Thebe. Daniel Thebe is a thought leader in African brand communication and reputation management who has received numerous awards. Daniel graduated from the University of Cape Town with a bachelor's degree in Brand Communication and Business Administration. He believes in developing and owning innovative media platforms that are interwoven into society for it to achieve self-realization.

Daniel Thebe grew up in an entrepreneurial home where his father had a home-based cinema, he charged children to see movies, as well as a security company and a spazashop. His business mind started from this event

He has a mindset of “think like a villager and act globally”.

Woolworths: Mrs. Fraeeza Natha, IT Manager (Business & IT Strategy) • Mr. Christopher Brikkels, Head of IT (Marketing, Woolworths Financial & Online) 31.01.2022 | morning

In the morning of the fourth day of our International Field Trip South Africa 2022 – Local Edition – we had a short, but insightful presentation of Woolworths, made by the IT Manager Faeeza Natha and the Head of IT Christopher Brikkels.

Woolworths is a successful retail business in South Africa, with headquarters in Cape Town, more than 700 stores in 9 different Provinces. Also known in South Africa as “Woolies”, the company offers a unique blend of food, fashion, beauty, homeware, and financial services with the vision to be a leading fashion retailer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first Woolworths store opened its doors to the public in Cape Town in 1931 and during this almost 91 years, it has been the first South African retail company that introduced sustainable packaging, innovations, and new technologies to improve their businesses and customer experiences.

Below, some milestones of Woolworths:

  • First to offer employee benefits: Keen to attract and retain the best retail professionals, Woolworths was among the first local retailers to offer employees a pension fund, medical aid and maternity leave.

  • First in advancing tech: Early adopter of technology. A lease agreement for the first computer was agreed to with National Cash Registers (NCR) in the late 60s and Woolworths was already using a computerized merchandising system by the early 1970s.

  • First to introduce ‘sell by’ dates: In 1974, Woolworths became the first South African retailer to introduce ‘sell by’ dates on food packaging. And thinking in the customers’ convenience and experience, they were the first South African retailer to offer pre-washed lettuce and machine-washable wool clothing to consumers.

  • Sustainability journey: In 2007, they launched the Good Business Journey with the aim to make a difference in eight key areas towards sustainability: Energy, Water, Waste, Sustainable Farming, Ethical Sourcing, Transformation, Social Development and Health and Wellness. By this year (2022), they have the goal to have all packaging to be recyclable and reusable.

Ÿ Presentation highlights:

Faeeza and Christopher gave a briefing on the macro view of South Africa, Covid's impacts, challenges and lessons learned and showed their IT roadmap themes and the unique customer solutions and experiences introduced in Woolworths’ business.

On their IT Roadmap, they listed 4 themes: Business, People, Process and, Technology.

  • In the Business part, they aim to create a digital retail experience with the consolidation of online and mobile delivery.

  • On the People part, they want to build IT and digital skills for employees and have the digital platform expertise.

Hybrid cloud technology and online/app operational model are some goals into Process.

  • For Technology, they plan a digital platform that scales and have the technology approach that is integrated and supports exceptional customer experiences.

As an agile company, Woolworths try to act in a not traditional hierarchy structure, looking to change processes or implement new projects, products, and new business ideas in a faster way, especially into the Online Department. They are developing and growing its digital and online business since years ago and as Corona crisis changed the needs of customers, they were better prepared to offer digitalization to the customers compared to their competitors. The pandemic was a great opportunity to introduce unique and digital services and tools to bring more value to their customers.

A new business model was created during the crises with the possibility to act in the delivery business, offering their products in a fast way with the strategy to use their warehouse inside the cities to facilitate and agile their delivery. Woolworths is improving digital services and keeping contact with clients in a fast-paced and online way, offering products, consultation and experiences using VR tools.

They are very advanced into South African’s market when related to technology: they have a strong and growing digital business platform and were the first retail company to implement VR on their beauty online store. For example, at their website is possible to virtually “test” beauty products' colors in different types of skins. They used the good timing to launch new digital and online business offers as well as sustainable packing and delivery services of their products.

Woolworths works in an agile way of creating, managing, and implementing projects, products, and services, focusing on their Online Department that aims to keep their digital business running well. Woolworths works with the Business Strategy and IT Strategy very alignment and the company shows a solid fusion into the Digital Business Strategic.


Gabriela Caldeira Conçalves


Avaloq - 09.09.2020 - Dr. Oliver Kuster & Fabian Grande

Avaloq is a global services company with a strong focus on banking and wealth management technology.

The presentation of Avaloq was done by their Head of Innovation Oliver Kuster and their head of Product Management Fabian Grande. At first, they presented the business model and the products of the company. Then, they explained what they changed in the company to have successful innovation. The changes are clustered in 3 topics, culture, outside-in vs inside-out and execution. The presenters talked about their values in their culture. The next part was about how their departments work together and compared that to technology push/market pull. Proper execution is only possible with the according mindset and organization.

The last part was about their new app Engage and how they developed this idea. It is a communication app that enables the banks to communicate with their customers via Whatsapp and other similar messaging apps. Their steps for developing the app are the following: do research about the topic, then build a prototype to convince the stakeholders and customers and finally build the app with teamwork.


Vincent Oggier

Patrick Gossner

Marcelo Pereira


Cryptovalley - 09.09.2020 - Sheraz Ahmed

Sheraz Ahmed, Head of Business Development at Crypto Valley Association, made the presentation about the Crypto Valley Association. The Association is based in Zug. Therefore, it was possible to make the presentation physically. At the start we were given an overview of the block chain technology and cryptocurrencies. The estimation questions as a game on Kahoot, made the presentation very interactive. The questions also showed that some facts about this technology are well known, while others are hardly known and have surprised us.

The second part was about the Crypto Valleys Association. The Crypto Valley Association was established in January 2017 to coordinate, accelerate, and scale the further development of Crypto Valley into the world’s best ecosystem for crypto technologies and businesses. The Crypto Valley Associations strategic objectives can be described as: Support the interest and needs of its members, engage with authorities, educational and other bodies, professionalize Crypto Valleys operations and improve the ecosystem to attract investments. The Crypto Valley Associations is supported by the government, but it is an independent entity. This fact did not surprise us. In the run of the field trip we learned that it is typical for Europe that the government plays a central role in supporting innovation."


Luz Stella Chavez Osorio

Elena Fischer

Markus Lochbrunner


Google - 09.09.2020 - Uttam Tripathi

The virtual Silicon Valley tour had the opportunity to get an introduction to the values and culture at Google. Uttam shared his execution of Google’s values and having the user at the core is the main principle that is shared in all products and offers they develop. The 3-point value model therefore also has “Serve (respect) the user” at the beginning. The word respect also follows in the second “Care for (respect) the opportunity” and the third “support (respect) each other”. Uttam also stressed the importance of empathy and compassion. Empathy can be described as "seeing the world through someone else's eyes". It enables the individual to place themself in the situation of someone else, opening up new perspectives, and providing an understanding of others' actions and opinions. Compassion then means to act upon the new learnings made from the empathetic experience. This approach helps to understand potential customer troubles with a product before the customer actually experiences any problems. Showing empathy and compassion further requires humbleness, as the own perspective has to be overcome to gain an unprejudiced, new view of the world.

Uttam also introduced us to a method Google uses, the OKRs. The "Objectives and Key Results" (OKRs) method is to guide employees using goals and improve their performance. OKRs are used to set challenging and specific goals for Google's employees. These objectives are challenging to a point where they might feel uncomfortable, and openly accessible throughout the entire organization. Using OKRs differs from other goal-setting approaches due to the very ambitious nature of the OKRs. Teams focus on attaining big challenges and push their performance stronger even if the goal is not fully attained.


Luca Müller

Matthias Mann


Reshuffle - 09.09.2020 - Amir Shevat

Originally from Israel, Amir Shevat is a co-founder and investor from the Silicon Valley who has a passion for building products users will love. He outlines three "sins" companies are guilty of when creating new products and how to identify and avoid them. The first one is building the wrong thing. You know you're guilty of this when your users are not using the product, the user behaviour is not as expected or if you realise you don't know who your customer is. To avoid this "sin" one of you're virtues should include customer obsession as you will be less likely to miss the mark with your product when you have a deep understanding of who your customer is. The second "sin" is building too much or too little which can be identified by unused features, slow product velocity or users demanding features which are not on your roadmap. The solution to this "sin" is to negotiate audience/needs not features. Amir highlights this by saying you shouldn't do a MVP (minimum viable product) but a MLP (minimum lovable product). Lastly, the final "sin" is not learning and improving. You know you've sinned when your metrics are moving but the overall KPIs are not or you do not know how your users are using your product. It is imperative to understand what you're measuring and targeting so you can measure the right things. If you manage to avoid or rectify these three sins you should be on the right track to develop products your customers will love.


Lukas Bertini

Vivienne Estoppey

Simon Worni


Baloise - 10.09.2020 - Sibylle Fischer & Dr. Matthias Rüfenacht

On the fourth day of the local Silicon Valley tour, the audience had the opportunity to meet up with representatives of the Baloise insurance company, in order to gain insight in their involvement of the F10 Incubator Ecosystem. However, The Baloise insurance company decided in 2017 to become a new member of the Swiss FinTech incubator and accelerator called ‘F10’. This was done in order to have an exclusive access to promising international FinTech start-ups, new technologies as well as business models which possess the potential of being disruptive. Moreover, this step was taken in order to support the further development of Baloise in line with their own strategy called ‘Simply Safe’ as well as establishing an agile mindset as an established company in the field of insurance.

However, ‘F10’ can be described as a global innovation ecosystem with offices in Zurich, Singapore, Madrid, Barcelona. Hereby, ‘F10’ operates as an incubator and accelerator, who supports start-ups on their way from idea to successful business. Thus, it is supposed to acts as a mediator between established financial service providers and young FinTech companies. This is done with the believe that the fast track to innovation lies in early collaboration between startups, incumbents and investors. Each stakeholder benefits from shared skills, experience and insight. With this step to become a member of this ecosystem, Baloise gained direct access to start-ups in the start-up phase. This enables it to play an active role in these start-ups and at the same time benefits from the ideas, dynamism and development spirit of these innovative companies.


Simon A. Drabert

Kai Krause


MyCamper - 10.09.2020 - Mirjam Affolter

MyCamper is the leading online sharing platform for camper in Switzerland and the fastest growing player in Europe. Since Dec. 2019, we are active in our first international market, Sweden. We want to revolutionize the market by opening it up to privately owned camper (campervans, motorhomes and caravans). On MyCamper you find a diverse offer of nostalgic VW buses to luxury motor homes for fair prices. Camper owners can easily create a camper-profile with few clicks and rent out their campervans to share costs and their passion. MyCamper receives a service fee for each booking and offers the comprehensive insurance solution by its partner Baloise.

VoiceBase - 10.09.2020 - Walter Bachtiger

Walter left us in awe and speechless with his talk about the inside and outside view of his company VoiceBase. They offer AI driven solutions to deeply analyse customer interaction through call centers. After showing us the business model and a demo of his product, he took us on the journey he ventured on 10 years ago to the Silicon Valley. He transparently let us experience the ups and downs he and his company went through, explaining that the best and the worst days are sometimes extremely close. He used the analogy of the race to the moon which every company in the valley goes through. Capital being the fuel for the rocket, runway the remaining capital and speed and growth the only goal for being first on the moon.

Always convincing new and current investors to believe in the company and its people to keep the rocket going, even if there is not much runway left. VoiceBase has been offered several exits, but Walter has not stopped believing that he can create a unicorn and be the first on the moon. Walter is aware that even if his company has a high valuation and an impressive value proposition, there is always a realistic chance of not reaching the goal. He manages to be true to himself and highly values his employees as without them, the landing on the moon would never be possible.


Patrick Mutzer

Catherine Stewart

Etienne Frey


Swisscom Outpost - 10.09.2020 - Jeffrey Gantner

Swisscom Outpost is an outpost of the Swiss communications-company Swisscom. The goal of Swisscom is to innovate and push technological advancements. Swisscom is based in Switzerland, hence, the reason why Swisscom Outpost in Silicon Valley was founded in 1998 is to be closer to the birthplace of most modern innovations and help them move into the Swiss market.

At the beginning of the Swisscom Outpost, its goals were to scout the possibilities of the internet. However, this initial focus changed and broadened up. Today, Swisscom Outpost, from their Garage in Palo Alto, tries to identify the next stepping stones, which will enable new innovations as well as developments based on the current technology basis.

Startups receive the chance to get to Swiss customers. This enables Swisscom to react faster to new innovations, like the introduction of WhatsApp and the disintegration of the SMS market, as well as to support new business opportunities. For this reason, the department “Digital Business” inside Swisscom was created 5 years ago (2015). Around 70% of Swisscoms turnover today is made by products, that did not exist 10 years ago.

To support this, Swisscom Outpost has 5 technological focus areas: Cyber Security, Data and Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Telco and Internet of Things. On top of that, there are 5 areas of business activities: Technology Scouting to identify, evaluate and bring technology trends to Switzerland. Innovation Lab for local Proof of Concepts and assessments of technical solutions. Venturing to support the Swisscom investment pipeline with various actions. Partner management for close cooperation with technology forums and major technology enterprises. And lastly, innovation transfer – the Corporate innovation program for Swisscom customers and partners in Switzerland.

Raphael Denz

Vladimir Budimirovic