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Has got everyone talking



has got everyone talking Editorial – Lauren Grey Production – Hal Hutchison

Established in 1999 by managing director Vivian Pather, Xpert Decision Systems (XDS) is the first and only 100% black-owned credit bureau in South Africa; now thriving in an industry once dominated by two powerful international corporations, IndustrySA finds out the key to their success. Since its inception in 1999, XDS has gone from strength to strength; starting as the underdog to two dominating international businesses, it is now ranked as one of the top 50 most talked about companies in the world, but not without hard work and innovative thinking by founder and managing director, Vivian Pather. “XDS began as a group of individuals wanting to make a difference in the credit bureau industry” explains Pather, “I started as the IT director at Experian, but we decided that we wanted to do something locally and particularly into the rest of Africa… It was very difficult coming into an industry that had two well-known and powerful


players with unlimited resources.” Pather’s determination and previous experience within the industry enabled the company to provide home-grown solutions which were relevant to the environment and organised around the customer, separating XDS from the competition and putting them in a league of their own. “We needed to create a brand that was a cut above the rest” explains Pather, “XDS and its offerings and services were tailored to give focus on the whole customer relationship and we become intrinsically involved in their business... One of our core beliefs is being responsive and listening to our clients. This value has been a critical aspect during our 13 years of successful business.”


“If I can create a business that makes life better for broader society, it will be a truly successful company.”

XDS now provides clients with specialist skills, worldwide credit bureau experience, data integrity and accuracy, innovation, new flexible technology and local customisation, and is the only 100% black owned credit bureau in South Africa. Their philosophy embraces the National Credit Act and maintains the highest standards of integrity relating to data privacy, legislative compliance, confidentiality and quality of information. As a registered Credit Bureau with the National Credit Regulator, XDS is committed to providing smart information solutions to credit grantors, commercial organisations and consumers.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD In 2012, XDS was awarded First National Bank Business of the Year Award at the Roodepoort Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The company were judged on their business principles,

vision of their future in the industry, market place and leadership, for which Pather acknowledges the contribution of his staff and the importance of motivating the human capital, “No business can function without its staff. They are the lifeblood of any organisation making it imperative that they are constantly motivated to operate at their best at all times” he says. XDS currently employs 120 members of staff, 94% of who are empowered black employees, and with the company’s on-going mentoring and coaching programs it is ensured that every staff member is involved with at least two initiatives to help motivate and improve the workforce, whilst 52 members of staff receive one on one coaching. Pather explains that his staff compliment of 120 people is broken into different categories, “we have highly skilled resources in the analytical area, so out of 120 there are about 10-12 people who are primarily focused on the development of scorecards and models.”



A role within the analytical side of the business would, according to Pather, require a ‘minimum of a master’s degree in maths, statistical science or related subjects’, and would involve ‘building models, developing

scorecards and customising generic models for customers and the bureau.’ “A further category would be data administration, which is very important because at the end of the day, we’re a data business, an information business” explains Pather, “it is very important to have skilled, qualified people that understand data.” The third and fourth categories involve technical administration, for the development of systems and products and a sales and admin team, “as you can see, it is a varied team that we have in the organisation to service all aspect of our clients.” Pather also says that Corporate Social Investment (CSI) is an important aspect of human capital and that XDS gives as much back to the community as possible, “It’s not just our employees who are key to a successful business. If I can create a business that makes life better for broader society, it will be a truly successful company. We have continuous programmes that fund charities in South Africa on a monthly basis. We believe in giving as much as we can when we can,” he explains.

XDS SUCCESS IN TOUGH TIMES As the success of the company grows, Pather says that expanding into the rest of Africa is definitely on the agenda, as is international growth; with this in mind he reflects on the effects of the economic slowdown, admitting that although XDS felt the pinch, they tried their hardest to make light of a tricky situation, and streamlined their business dealings with clients. “In some instances, the global economy will affect our clients who have been under tremendous pressure in terms of reducing costs, which has impacted on us in terms of making sure we are giving our clients value for money all the time … So, we have been working very closely with our clients, asking directly ‘how can we assist you in growing your business strategically and better?’”

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION PLANS Initially, Pather had envisioned XDS in the African market, which resulted in them being the first credit bureau to be awarded licenses in Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, with further projects in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia. “We were already working in

Africa before it became popular to do so, hence our three branches. Although Africa is a difficult environment to break into due to the lack of infrastructure and policies that will support a successful credit bureau, our future vision for expansion includes a look into West Africa, Southern Africa and East Africa” says Pather. Pather says that the experience gained within the African market enabled XDS to successfully integrate into South Africa, “we’ve been very fortunate, we started off in 2005 and it’s been a very steady growth year on year…This experience has enabled XDS to successfully use its invaluable data matching experience gained in Africa in the South African market.” Pather says that the business hit ‘record levels’ of growth within South Africa last year, allowing XDS to enter a consolidation phase; positioning themselves to take advantage of the growth and put together a five year plan, looking at where they want to be and what they want to achieve. “The challenge is” admits Pather, “in the rest of Africa credit bureaus are a very new phenomena, so it is extremely difficult to get it up and running in these countries. The world banks are very focused on making sure that credit bureaus are started there, but the enabling legislation and environment are just not there.” Putting this hurdle into perspective, Pather explains that XDS started in Ghana in 2003, but only received licensing there in 2007, “At the moment the best returns are in South Africa, so we keep an eye on what’s happening in the rest of Africa, but unless the enabling legislation and the environment is right it’s a challenge. So, were not aggressively going into those markets, we have requests from various countries from time to time, but we look at it holistically and decide the best way to go forward.” One international request, filed to XDS last year was from Afghanistan, “In most of the developed countries credit bureaus are up and running, but last year we had a request to set up a credit bureau in Afghanistan, we sent our proposals in October, and we’re still waiting for a response from them as to whether they want to go ahead or not.” Pather admits that although international expansion is on the horizon, it is very time consuming and difficult because it’s ‘not a tangible type of product that you can sell’, “if the environment is not right, if the legislation is not right, you’re going to have difficulty convincing people that the credit bureau is needed” he explains. As XDS continues to grow, Pather says that his ultimate goal is to ensure that every level of the population understands the critical role of a credit bureau in keeping a successful economy going.



the power to control


the power to control

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© 2013 Fortinet, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Fortinet and the Fortinet logo are trademarks of Fortinet, Inc.

© 2013 Fortinet, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Fortinet and the Fortinet logo are trademarks

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is another battle in the war between security and usability. End users from the CEO down to line workers want the ability to use personal devices for work purposes. Organizations also look to capitalize on this trend by shifting maintenance costs to the employee, eliminating the standard-setting role of IT. Workers have discovered the power of constant connectivity and have come to expect secure access to their corporate network regardless of location. The promises of increased productivity and worker satisfaction have brought BYOD to the forefront of most IT discussions today. On the opposite side of this discussion is security. BYOD opens up numerous challenges around network, data, and device security along with blurring the lines of privacy and accessibility. BYOD provides a variety of advantages. However, a BYOD environment also lacks many of the traditional security controls. The most common pitfalls; bandwidth and productivity drains, data and device loss and attacks against mobile devices.

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