The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: March 2006

Best kept secret

1 March 2006
Paul Booth

Mabili, although founded back in 1998 as an executive search company, is a comparatively un-known, but nevertheless, an influential and dynamic South African business solutions company that derives its name from the Zulu, meaning 'two' as in the context of a partnership or a relationship. This is a combination that is successful, yet does not seem to have any other parallels in South Africa.
Today, Mabili delivers niche business solutions in the areas of human resources (HR) and information and communications technologies (ICT) through its two business units, namely, Human Capital and Business Applications. These entities experience a remarkable synergy in providing solutions that enhance and enrich organisational resources and processes and fully support Mabili's solution-driven approach to business.
Mabili's evolution into a comprehensive business solutions company has been based on a strategy of synergistic diversification. It has over the past eight years developed from its original search function into a robust black economic empowered human capital management (HCM) function, whilst at the same time developing an innovative business applications solutions division.
From an ICT perspective, the HCM unit includes a significant contracting capability, as well as an executive and specialised skills search function. Lesley Mawhinney, who established an ICT practice at one of the internationally-based search companies a few years ago, has recently joined to head up Mabili's ICT practice.
Lesley Mawhinney
Lesley Mawhinney
On the software side, Mabili has three main realms of activity, which provide solutions that enhance application effectiveness and enrich business processes; and embrace the areas of business integration, financial forecasting and international trade management.
Mabili provides business integration solutions in the form of its Business Driver product. This is a set of new and innovative software that acts as a framework for business integration, application development and the creation of service-oriented architectures. It was designed to be technology independent and allow the use of any hardware platform, programming language, data format, protocol and mechanism for exchanging data such as e-mail, file transfer, screen capture and Web services.
One of its differentiators lies in its inherent ability to link disparate systems with an unprecedented level of 'loose-coupling', thus giving additional flexibility and robustness, and to do so without requiring additional new IT skills beyond those required for the 'old-fashioned' 'tight-coupling' approach. Once integration points are established between systems, they become 100% re-usable and may be accessed in business terms by their function without any requirement to understand or even be aware of the underlying technologies, thus enabling business analysts to create and modify business processes by configuration alone ie, without any coding. The benefits that flow to the organisation are increased business agility and reduced total cost of ownership, which in turn are the major drivers behind the global trend towards the adoption of service-oriented architectures.
Within Business Driver, services are defined in business terms; exposed in a manner that is independent of format, platform and transport; and accessed in any number of ways. As Business Driver translates these inputs to a service interface by configuration alone, thus providing for the extremely rapid integration of any parties, applications or systems that need to interact.
Thus, Mabili is one of many small, successful and innovative organisations in South Africa that have much to offer in terms of local market understanding, personal service and support; characteristics that are so often lacking with the major corporates and the subsidiaries of overseas organisations.

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