The second edition of the Nigerian International Technology Exhibition and Conference, tagged NITEC 2017, was held on July 4, 2017, and it lived up to its billing with various experts in the tech ecosystem baring their minds on various issues, ranging from big data, cloud, to data analytics for economic transformation and many more. The theme for this year was “The Future of Big Data, Analytics And Applications for SME’s Development” and the conference hall at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, the venue of the Conference, was filled to the brim with enthusiastic participants drawn from various sectors of the tech ecosystem.
The Conference commenced with a welcome address by the convener of the conference. Ehi Braimah, MD/CEO, Neo Media Services Limited. He welcomed everyone to the conference, which he assured will be exciting and beneficial to participants.
The keynote address was presented by David Okeme, Chief Marketing Officer, SystemSpecs, on behalf of John Obaro, MD SystemSpecs who was unavoidably absent as he had to attend to some urgent call. David was of the view that, contrary to the notion that Nigeria has no data, Nigeria, in fact, had data scattered all over different silos, such as the BVN with banks, Drivers License with FRSC, INEC registration, etc. What is required, he said, is to have an interface among these agencies and bring the data together. He said that we have security issues with data storage and privacy in Nigeria which we should solve. He also maintained that we should be concerned about how the data that we are storing are going to help us have solutions to our myriad of problems.
Then came the presentation on “The interplay of cloud, big data and analytics for economic transformation” by Dipo Faulkner, Country General Manager, IBM. Dipo maintained that, changes are happening around us at the speed of light. He emphasized that the challenges include the fact that Global economy is slowly recovering and this brings about the need to constantly review financial performance and then, we have an empowered set of customers, defining how they need to be served. He stressed that competition too is now different as it is now from anyone from anywhere. A business owner, he said, must, therefore, understand disruption, who can disrupt and also be able to disrupt too. He stated that regulators have also woken up to their responsibilities; hence, an entrant into any sector must understand the laws, regulations and risks involved and how to play successfully within it.
Dipo asserts that businesses should innovate, understand in time and engage to gain comparative advantage to retain employees and customers. He advocated for building a culture that will be followed continuously as well as the use of data-rich apps.
A panel of discussion was thereafter constituted with Dipo Faulkner, Country General Manager, IBM, David Okeme, Chief Marketing Officer, SystemSpecs and Tunde Coker, MD, Rack Centre as panelists while Oseni Rufai, OAP, 92.3 Inspiration FM and the MC of the Conference, served as the moderator. The discussion centered, basically, on what their various organizations do, especially, with data. David stated that SystemSpecs, with its Remita platform allows businesses to receive and make payments easily, online. He also stated that his organization powers the Treasury Single Account, TSA, of the present government in Nigeria. Tunde Coker also stated that Rack Centre provides data storage services comparable with those in developed countries of the world. On his part, Dipo Faulkner stated that IBM runs a free innovation centre at V.I., Lagos, with another one in Nairobi, Kenya. He also stated IBM’s work in sourcing relevant diagnostics and treatment for Cervical Cancer, among other innovations.
The second panel of discussion was moderated by Nkem Begho, CEO, Future Software Resources and the topic of discussion was “How Startups can leverage latest Applications for growth”. The panelists were Olatorera Oniru, Founder, Dressmeoutlet.com, Felix Rwang-Dung, Founder, AskanExpert.expert, Afolabi Abiodun, CEO, SB Telecoms & Devices Limited and Emeka Okafor, CEO, Connectnigeria.com. The panelists agreed that the Applications you use depend basically on the type of business that you do. Some of the Applications that the panelists mentioned include WhatsApp, Translator, Google suite, Slack, Twitter, Paystack, Connectnigeria app, Skype, Email, etc. The panel also agreed that Startups should be tracking their growth, expenses, income, breakeven point, customer base, etc. Analytic tools such as Google Analytics, they maintained, can be used to track traffic and conversion while backend can be used to track your abandoned carts, so you can do something about them. Startups were advised to read biographies of successful people as well as listen to tapes, attend seminars and training in order to learn, first hand, so they don’t reinvent the wheel.
The next panel looked into ” Big data: harnessing the potentials of Nigerian Universities”, with Uche Aniche, CEO, VenueHero, moderating. The panelists were Charles Emembolu, CEO, Crestsage, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, Vice-Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Emeka Okoye, CEO, Cymantiks and Ogochwukwu Frank, CEO, Debbie Mishael Consulting. In summary, the panelists agreed that our Universities are a repository of data through the quantum of thesis, projects and research findings by students, lecturers and the other members of the University community. It was also agreed that what should be of paramount importance now is how to digitalize these data so they can easily be monetized and accessed for use by the business community.
Then came the time to discuss “Innovation: Breaking down the barriers”, and this was moderated by Adeoye Abodunrin, ED, Xpos Technologies. Those on the panel were Bolaji Finnih, CEO, TechPreneur and Stephen Ojji, CEO and Founder, Kotivu.NG. The panelists emphasized that the nature of technology is that, in a maximum of about 6 months, it becomes obsolete with more advanced technology added. Bolaji gave the 3 dimensions of innovation as the idea generation, selection and commercialization. He stated that a major barrier to innovation is that people are not easily receptive to ideas as such in our clime here. He opined that businesses should create the environment that allows for mistakes to be made so that people will be bold enough to push their ideas forward for testing. He also emphasized that there are a lot of Startups in Nigeria but many of them don’t scale while they also engage in talent gamble. Stephen, on the other hand, stated that communication is key when innovating, so that there will be no deviations from the objectives. He stated that in his outfit, there is an incubation room, an ideas bank as well as a bouncing room, all in a bid to stay focused on the objectives. The panelists agreed that Startups seeking funding should show the investors the value in what they want him to invest in and if they still cannot get investors, they can sell their ideas or go into partnership with others to realize their dreams. Adeoye advised that Startups should copy what the Indians and other Asian countries are doing because our problems in Nigeria are similar to theirs as against what obtains at the Silicon Valley.
Pius Okigbo Jnr, CEO, InfoSoft Nigeria, then came on board to talk on “How government policies drive adoption of new technologies”. He gave the an illustration of how government policy to reduce environmental pollution in Norway gave birth to the innovation of producing and using the electric cars in that country, giving incentives to those using them as against those still using petrol powered cars until they will be completely faced out in 2025. He stated that, as a nation, we must push programming languages in Artificial Intelligence as we will always be on the periphery of Artificial Intelligence in order to better our lot. He reiterated the fact that we do not have standards for many of the products we use such as switches, doors, etc., hence, we must evolve standards. This, he stated, will engender economic growth and development.
The Startups session was moderated by Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr, CFA. Presenter, Tech Trends on Channels Television. The panelists were Joel Amawhe, Founder, MyPadi.ng, Okafor Chukwuemeka, Founder, PasTecs, Suleimon Ajibode, CEO, Ajo Africa, Uche Aniche, CEO, VenueHero and Wale Ogunjobi, Founder, PrimalTutors.com. These young Startups spoke on what they do with their Startups and where they hope to be in the next 5 years. They, however, left some nuggets that can help other budding Startups at the conference such as:
Make it work before making it better
Go out and network
You will never get all the funding you need to start. Start with what you have
Learn how to multi-task in order to minimize your cost, maximize your time and provide excellent products and services to your customers.
Gather a great team. Investors invest in the quality of your team and not necessarily in your idea.
Lagos is not Nigeria. We need to move out of Lagos to develop the ecosystem in other parts of the country.
Many tech Companies expressed delight at the positive response of the participants as they exhibited their various products and services at this years Conference.
The vote of thanks was given by Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr, CFA, Presenter, Tech Trends on Channels Television, to round up the NITEC 2017. It is hoped that NITEC 2018 will also throw up a lot of interesting issues.