How has ICT in South Africa evolved over the last 10 years?
The ICT industry has matured to such a level that we need to distinguish between data as an asset and technology that enables us to use that data. We are evolving in a way where data will become an asset that needs to be quantified and shown in a balance sheet.
How ready are South African businesses to start recognising data as an asset?
That is one of the problems we deal with. People see data projects as IT projects. But if you look at the compliance companies have to adhere to, it all relates back to the data. Companies need to understand there is a cost to not recognising data as an asset. Another problem we see that there is never an owner for data. By elevating data to an asset where there will be a C-Level position looking after it within the organisation, we resolve that problem as well.
What have been the key milestones of Praesignis since its inception in 2006?
Praesignis has always been focussed on sustainability. We have a passion for human development. We have been running regular internships for people without degrees. We train them in our field and we place them with clients. Some of them end up in management positions at those firms.
In 2015, we re-focussed and re-branded our operations. We created divisional brands, each headed by specialists in the field. We also created a brand under the Praesignis brand of advisory services specifically focussed on innovation and inventive problem-solving.
In 2016, we achieved a level 1 BBBEE rating and experienced large expansion reaching the 70 resources mark, as well as an increase in revenues of more than 40% in one year.
What is your flagship product?
They mostly complement each other, but our focus has always been the DataSignis brand. The Intellisignis brand is quickly taking off, as are the talent and education brands.
Have you seen growth in any specific sector?
Praesignis has mainly been involved in the financial and banking sector, which will always be the major market. Last year we started in the pharmaceutical sector. We also see scope in the retail sector, where we are not present yet.
What differentiates you from the rest of data solutions companies and makes you the partner of choice?
To bring value out of any data project, we need to get context for the big data. The only way to do that is integrating it with your structural data. That is what we do. If a customer says something in a social media about an organisation, it doesn’t mean anything to that organisation if they cannot identify the context and the customer as being an influential one.
You have partnerships with IBM, Tableau and Microsoft. Will you strengthen relationships with other big multinationals?
We are planning on expanding our partnerships, but we are cautious about who we partner with. It needs to be a quality product, something that I believe in. It is the same with Talentsignis: we interview all of our future staff and I will never put someone forward for a job if we don’t prepare them ourselves.
You had a 40% revenue growth for the year 2015. How much are you expecting to grow in the following 2-3years?
Rapid growth can have a severe impact on cash flow. We are conscious of that and that is why Praesignis was from its inception focussed on sustainability. We will remain concentrated on our core areas. We foresee at least a further 30% growth this year. Some of the new products will be offered as services as well and we see high potential, especially in media monitoring.