New CEO plans to transform 4Sight
New 4Sight Holdings group CEO Vincent Raseroka has big plans for the company, including what he calls "real empowerment", with intentions for the South African business to soon be at least 51% black-owned.
The JSE-listed diversified holding firm invests in industry 4.0 technology businesses and helps companies embrace fourth industrial revolution (4IR) solutions. Raseroka wants 4Sight to be able to win big contracts in the public sector but to be able to do that, it needs to embrace black economic empowerment (BEE).
The plan is to get 4Sight SA's 51% shareholding to be "majority-owned by young black females that are competent, that are capable, that have studied this stuff, that will be customer-facing, and that actually understand and operate these businesses," he told ITWeb.
"We cannot always just be looking up to government and pointing fingers; we've got to actually come up with an alternative solution.
"I'm not going to have absentee investors that actually make BEE very difficult in this country."
Raseroka is clear that his vision is not that of the sometimes tainted BEE of the past.
"It's not the classical, my generational-type BEE, where you bring in black people that are not present in the business that don't actually have an idea what the business is all about.
"I'm going to bring in these young people that actually understand this business, that want to come side-by-side with these entrepreneurs; that have got skin in the game and actually want to work in this business. I want to bring in young people that are credible, that are qualified, that went to great schools, great universities. Or even those that are previously disadvantaged and have gone to ordinary schools, but that come with values and understand that you've got to work for stuff."
He wants "to vindicate my generation, because we have let the young kids down, because we actually didn't do well, in terms of doing real empowerment".
Raseroka does not buy into the 'tenderpreneur' culture in SA.
"You can't be a young person and just be going around to restaurants, and having coffee and saying I'm doing tenders. There is no industry, there's no country that's going to build anything that is sustainable by just tendering. You've got to go out and actually create value. So we're busy doing that and we've already started."
When 4Sight listed in October 2017, SA was its smallest revenue contributor, with only about 3% of revenue coming from SA. In June 2018, Van Rensburg told ITWeb this had grown to about 40% of revenue from SA, and by 31 December 2018, this was up to almost 60%.
There is no industry, there's no country that's going to build anything that is sustainable by just tendering
Raseroka wants to boost the SA business even more and said once the company has formalised 4Sight SA to be 51% black-owned, then it is going to start targeting state-owned entities.
"Our business can actually help Eskom to get 6% more out of the coal they use, through our systems," he said.
"But the truth is, it's been very difficult for our business and some of my business partners. They say they have actually gone to Eskom but because of the BEE issues that we are not empowered enough, we were not able to get in. So when we are empowered, we will have confident, young black folks that can go and speak to these people and explain how they can bring value."
4.0 in focus
Raseroka's strategy for 4Sight includes growing its global footprint and reputation within its areas of specialisation. He believes this is the perfect time for companies to embrace 4IR) solutions, especially as president Cyril Ramaphosa continues to push his 4IR agenda though his 4IR Presidential Commission.
"If you're on a proper board, you've got to have 4.0 technology as a permanent agenda item. But still a lot of people don't actually know what that means for them; they are intimidated.
"If you speak to the people that operate in that space that are doing the algorithms that are talking artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine, Internet of things and all that, they will intimidate you with their bright ideas. But if you're a CEO and you get asked, what is your digital strategy? I would like 4Sight SA to be their first port of call, for us to work side-by-side with them to help them develop their digital strategy. We should be the people that decode what the fourth industrial revolution actually means for your business."
As to what he hopes the business will look like in a year's time, he "would like to have both blue-chip customers and emerging customers that are 4.0 efficient and are feeling very comfortable talking about profitable projects that we have co-implemented with them".
"I think we were very acquisitive in the last 18 months. What I would like us to do now is to consolidate. Because the biggest value lies in maximising the skills across the different business units, there are transferable skills. We would like to cross-sell more.
"We are going to participate with other partners in the ICT space, we are going to be a serious player, not just an absentee, and we are going to take our industry captain role quite seriously. With 4.0, everybody has got to reposition themselves, there is a new race, and I would like to come out as a serious player when the new contenders are being redefined."