Khanyisa Real Systems (KRS) a South African software and application development company has been in the industry for 30 years. The company offers affordable and agile software and app development across diverse industries. KRS has been, for many years, running Roomseeker, a software management system for South African National Parks (SANParks) available to the general public for real-time online bookings. In an ever evolving fast-paced industry KRS has managed to stay relevant.
IT News Africa had the opportunity to interview the co-Founder and ‘Simplifier-in-Chief’ Lorraine Steyn. She started the company at the age of 24, in an era where women were not given opportunities in management position, Steyn took a leap and opened KRS offices in Johannesburg she has since expanded KRS into a fully-fledged enterprise app development house with KRS Mobile.
What inspired you to start KRS?
I am inspired by using technology in a creative manner to solve business problems. From the moment that I became a software developer, back in the 1980’s, and realized what potential software had, I was hooked. It was a small step from taking on ad hoc clients after hours, and building up a portfolio of work, to launching a fully-fledged software house.
With ICT being a male dominated industry what do you think women should do to lead in this field?
Women, especially school girls, must have equal opportunity to discover software. For instance, send your girls on a robotics or programming course, and encourage them to engage with the technical world. There is absolutely no reason why IT should be a male dominated field – it has the least requirement for physical strength of any career you can think of! Unfortunately, now that it is male dominated, the field can look off-putting to women. There will be no solution until our women want to return to IT, and take back the lead they had in the early days of IT.
To what would you attribute the success of KRS?
Investing in people. There is a quote, where two managers are talking about training their employees. The first asks, “What if we train them, and they leave?” The second responds, “What if we don’t train them, and they stay?”. Especially in the fast-paced IT world, training and opportunities for growth are essential, and have always been at the heart of KRS.
What role does technology play in the growth of the economy in Africa?
There are amazing opportunities, but there are also risks with technology. For instance, will technology take away jobs, or create new jobs? Right now, technology offers amazing training opportunities, with video training available in all sorts of fields via the web. But it’s still exclusive – not everyone has the same access to technology. I’m very encouraged by municipalities that are providing free wifi in city centres – that will make a huge, positive, difference. Everyone should have access to job searches and learning resources. There may be some cool tech in our future too, but for now I just want to see equal access.
What other areas does KRS look into expanding to?
Along with our corporate software development services, we also develop various products of our own. We are making good inroads into the business-to-consumer market, especially in the entertainment and fitness markets. We see these markets as expanding, and are well placed locally to grow with these markets. Our gym management software is used by over 200 studios to large gyms in Southern Africa, and we have many exciting ideas to take this solution to new markets in Africa and the world.
What has kept this business relevant with technology evolving so rapidly?
I don’t want to sound like a stuck record, but it’s training! You have to be willing to grow and change. Not as easy as it sounds, but absolutely vital.
What can the hospitality and travel industry do digitally to grow and stay current?
There are many opportunities for the travel and tourism industry to use more digital to enhance their offerings. KRS works with the big conservation organizations in Africa to bring technology to remote tourism areas, and we perceive an urgent need to upgrade our systems in South Africa to attract more foreign visitors. This is where mobile apps can also play a big role, making all tourism interactions more convenient and trustworthy.
What advise would you give to software development startups?
Being a startup is hard. You have to stretch your resources, and usually work your butt off to succeed. If I have any advice to give, it would be to be careful of ego. We all think that our idea is brilliant, and is going to be the “Next Big Thing”. Be willing to take advice, and adjust your plans, based on what the market is telling you. We all have a lot to learn, so never think you know it all.