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Digital economy: How to move your organisation from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’

Business owners must be willing to leverage technology and automation as a strategic enabler.

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The Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly one of the biggest disruptions of our time. Asides the plethora of economic challenges it has birthed, it has brought to the fore many of the deficiencies that lie within existing business operations and governmental infrastructures across the world.

For businesses to succeed, experts that gathered at the recent FITC’s webinar, which was tagged ‘Leadership in an Agile and Digital Economy,’ proffered solution to ensure growth regardless of what life/COVID-19 tosses at them. With technology at the forefront of today’s disruptive business environment, the experts, who were selected across sectors of the economy, emphasised that business owners must seek out ways to not just optimize the technological tools at their disposal, but they must also be able to optimize all available resources so as to stay far ahead of the competition.

With the advent of Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and the internet of things, Board Chairman, Afrinvest Securities, Fatumata Coker, tasked Nigerian business owners to adapt to the changing times in order to grow their businesses. According to her, some of the tools and what they do, make processes better for organisations that are determined to survive times like this.

READ MORE: CBN reserves 60% of N220 billion MSMEs fund for women

She said, “As you examine: the top, the culture, the people and the processes of your organization, find where your organization is ready and what is missing and how you might fill the gap, so you are ready to either adapt or disrupt.”

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Co-founder and GMD/ CEO Bluechip Technologies Limited, Kazeem Tewogbade, in his presentation tagged “Future Proofing the Organization for Digital Disruptions,” explained the term to mean the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.

According to him, some of the hallmarks of an agile organisation are the existence of an actionable strategy, the existence of clear and robust structures, efficient processes; people, fostered by the existence of a cohesive community as well as entrepreneurial drive, evolving technology architecture, and a system where learning is continuous.

He said, “The key thing for organizations will be to start seeing themselves as not so radical as even scholars say flatten things out completely…. I think it is important for business leaders and executives to start seeing the need to reorient their organizational structure such that it can actually support their quest to be able to adapt and innovate faster.”

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READ MORE: Buhari sets up committee to create digital identity for all Nigerians

On the need for entrepreneurs to think out of the box, Managing Director, Future Software Resources, Nkemdilim Begho, explained that the company must be willing to leverage technology & automation as a strategic enabler, leverage data and insights to unlock value.

“Businesses that want to survive this period must be flexible with the ability to rapidly adapt and steer itself in a new direction, minimize handovers and bureaucracy, empower people by building stronger, have a culture that motivates employees to innovate and governance that enable faster decision-making, partner with others in their ecosystem to gain new digital capabilities and involve customers in its design process,” she said.

Managing Director/CEO, FITC, Mrs Chizor Malize, explained that entrepreneurs must seek out ways to not just optimize the technological tools at their disposal, but they must also be able to optimize all available resources so as to stay far ahead of the competition. According to her, the seminar was organised to address the knowledge gap and to state how businesses can move from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’.

She said, “Leaders in an economy such as what we are facing now will need to be very agile and digitally driven to rebuild their operations and begin to reinvent new ways of work that will not only position their organization for the next normal but position them to thrive and win and also sustain this growth.”

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For companies that adapt to the changing times, she noted improved efficiencies and productivity, better & faster decision-making, innovation and new expertise, healthy bottom line, improved customer experience, improved stakeholder engagement, and employees freed up to work on value-add activities.

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About FITC: Established in 1981, FITC was created as a non-profit organisation limited by guarantee to provide capacity building and knowledge hub for the Nigerian Financial Services Sector. It’s Institutional Members are members of the Nigerian Banker’s Committee, comprises of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and all licensed banks in Nigeria.

Abiola has spent about 14 years in journalism. His career has covered some top local print media like TELL Magazine, Broad Street Journal, The Point Newspaper. The Bloomberg MEI alumni has interviewed some of the most influential figures of the IMF, G-20 Summit, Pre-G20 Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers, Critical Communication World Conference. The multiple award winner is variously trained in business and markets journalism at Lagos Business School, and Pan-Atlantic University. You may contact him via email - [email protected]

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Tech News

Software bug brings down Microsoft Teams, Azure

Microsoft’s Teams app recently experience a bit of a glitch that affected services globally.

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Microsoft plans to train 25 million workers for free in 2020

Microsoft recently disclosed that it was investigating an outage that brought down its cloud-based office services, including the meetings software, Teams, worldwide.

Microsoft reported challenges with authentication for its cloud services at around 9.25 pm UTC, meaning people were having issues logging into the online services; Teams, Outlook, and Office. The outage had affected services globally.

READ: Apple to settle customers with $500 million over slow iPhones

In a series of tweets sent by the world’s most valuable software maker and seen by Nairametrics, the company said:

“We’re investigating an issue affecting access to multiple Microsoft 365 services. We’re working to identify the full impact and will provide more information shortly.

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“We’ve published MO222965 to the Microsoft 365 Admin Dashboard, and will also be updating http://status.office.com with updates to our investigation.

“We’ve identified a recent change that appears to be the source of the issue. We’re rolling back the change to mitigate the impact. Please follow http://status.office.com for updates on this issue if you are unable to access the admin portal.”

READ: Oracle wins bid to acquire TikTok’s US operations after Microsoft offer was rejected

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Why it’s important: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, value chain services like Teams have been critical for individuals, and businesses working remotely.

In the month of April, Microsoft reported 75 million daily active users on Teams as a result of more people working from home.

READ: Guinness Nigeria finding it hard to refinance its loans due to dollar scarcity

With so many users depending on its services, Microsoft cannot afford to have any downtime. However, it reported that the services were mostly restored, though a small subset of customers in North America and the Asia Pacific were still unable to access them.

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Business Half Hour

Logistics became more essential during COVID-19 – Moses Enenwali, CEO and Co-founder, Topship

Moses Enenwali discusses the Logistics business and expresses optimism of massive growth in the nearest future.

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Logistics became more essential during COVID-19 - Moses Enenwali, CEO and Co-founder, Topship

Around the world, there are fears that drones and robots could take over a lot of jobs in the near future. For the Nigerian logistics sector, however, this is going to have its challenges.

The Nairametrics Business Half Hour radio show hosted Moses Enenwali, where he recounted how his inability to send a parcel out of the country during the lockdown led him to start Topship Logistics.

Moses said that a lot of real-life scenarios on Nigerian roads would have to be factored in, as well as the cost-effectiveness of the system.

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

“One has to consider the bumpy roads, thugs on the roads, thieves and several others which are a possibility on Nigerian roads. One also has to factor the cost of the drones, and decide if it is cost-effective,” he explained.

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As several sectors mourned the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant shutdown of the global economy, entrepreneurs in the logistics sector were smiling to the bank, due to the sudden change in fortunes and the realization that the world was indeed going digital.

READ: NNPC GMD gives reasons for shutdown of refineries, to get private managers

“Logistics found me…”

Moses Enenwali, co-founder and CEO of Topship logistics, a business that rose from the dust of the pandemic, affirms that his faith in the logistics industry was strengthened at this time. With everyone locked in their homes and countries at this time, it became glaring that logistics was not only an important business, but an essential one.

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In January 2014, he started out with Ernst & Young as an associate and worked there for about 17 months. He moved to Africa Courier Express (ACE) as a client manager, which formed his initial experience in logistics. He later worked with Sage as Strategic Business Development Manager, and as a consultant with Sahel Consulting.

Moses then served as a part of the Sendbox team responsible for driving supply-side growth across service lines. He recalled that all of those jobs gave him extensive experience in the logistics industry.

“I did not discover logistics. I think logistics found me. I was looking for a certain kind of leader and founder and that was what I found in Tunde Kehinde that inspired me to go work for ACE,” he recalled.

The business was born in the midst of the lockdown arising from the pandemic, at a time most people were looking for safer but cheaper options to move things in and out of Nigeria. Moses recalls that he was trying to move some things into the country and could not get one that suited his needs.

“I was able to find two providers but one of them was very expensive and difficult to understand, while the other was not selling to people like me who wanted one-offs,” Moses explained. This clearly showed a gap in the space and given his extensive experience in logistics, he reasoned that he could provide a solution.

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READ: NIPOST’s new charges could have ruined the e-commerce/logistics industry

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A light model that comes without strings

Logistics is a complicated and difficult space to operate in, and most startups there find themselves choked by the sheer enormity of the initial set-up costs and operating expenses. Often, they could struggle to recoup initial costs and loans before breaking even, or even contemplating expansion.

Topship started with the aggregator model – one that allows them to enter partnerships with parties that have some of the required startup resources. Instead of going for a mass purchase of vehicles, motorbikes or airplanes, the company entered several partnerships with these parties.

Moses explained, “This model allows us operate and scale significantly faster than most. We are like the Uber for logistics, aggregating partners and working with them to ensure that we give the most effective services.”

The model came from his previous work experiences. “ACE raised a lot of money but used a huge chunk to buy logistics assets and solve logistics problems so I learnt not to do that because that would make it even more capital intensive. At Sendbox, I also learnt that a lot of people are willing to partner with you when you present an opportunity to them to sign up on your platform, so we saw that the uber model can also work for logistics,” he said.

Customers for this business include students sending scripts and documents to countries like Canada, or small-scale entrepreneurs trying to export their products (wigs, shoes and bags), or even parents trying to send supplies to their children schooling in other countries. Corporate bodies also use the company for their logistics.

READ: Mr Bigg’s revamps operation, introduces contemporary restaurants 

Connecting with customers

Topship thrives on technology, which means that most of its customers connect digitally. Enenwali notes however that there is always need for a physical presence, even though the company offers doorstep pickup. “People want to know that there is a physical location where they can see and connect with you and know if their packages would have issues with the customs. They can walk in, weigh their packages and send the desired packages to their loved ones,” he explained.

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Still in its first year of operation, Topship has two locations in Nigeria, one in Lagos and another in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The goal is to have physical presence in all states of Nigeria, with a processing manager to man these centers.

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READ: Boeing to halt production of troubled 737 Max 

Business in the new normal

The new normal has come with new sets of rules on occupancy and social relations. Employees no longer meet physically to bounce ideas off one another. In this new plan, Topship has a bulk of its staff working remotely with just the processing manager left to work physically from the office. Customers have to abide by the new guidelines as well, to limit contact.

“It is not a work culture I am very comfortable with, but we all have to make adjustments for our safety. I like to look people in the eyes and interact with them, but there is only so much we can do with zoom.”

Raising funds

Having eliminated major expenses, the founders of Topship were able to bootstrap the initial costs. However, there are plans to raise funds from external investors for expansion purposes, since the model is not capital-intensive.

“Nigeria is opening up to the world and exporting her products to other countries. Local manufacturers in places like Lagos, Ibadan and Aba would like to take advantage of it. This means that there is a large market for us, and I believe that in the next five years, we would be a 200-300 million dollar business,” Moses said.

Topship logistics is aiming high in the Nigerian logistics market. Moses sees the business becoming a last stop for e-commerce businesses, given its rich network and model which allows it to handle on-demand deliveries and real-time deliveries. It is both cheaper and more effective so more businesses would be willing to key in.

Human capital

Topship operates a model that is centred around partnerships, and to protect this, the company uses Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to protect it from defaults.

“However, there are points where we have to employ empathy because we understand the situation in the country. Sometimes the dispatch riders make all attempts but traffic, rainfall or accidents could disrupt their arrival time so we have to apply a human face before dishing out sanctions,” he explained.

Besides the partnerships, there is a need for staff, and getting good manpower often poses a challenge for startups. Topship adopted a Stu-tern method, getting undergraduates and graduates interested in interning for a while where they learn while earning

“More importantly, I work with referrals from A players because I believe that A players know A players. The choice of staff can make your brand the best or worst for your customers,” Moses emphasized.

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Tech News

Dell partners firms to launch Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria

Dell Technologies is to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria.

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Dell Technologies has partnered with some global tech firms to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria. The centre is a technology project designed to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technologies for millions in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the company and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

In the statement, Nicholas Travers, Director, Central and West Africa, Dell Technologies explained that the project, which will be launched on October 1, would save huge costs and capital flight while also boosting technology adoption in Nigeria.

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

He said, “We believe the Tech Experience Centre will help reduce the decision making cycle and save huge costs and time of traveling to locations outside our continent to visit and experience these technologies at work. This is a fantastic initiative by TD Africa, perhaps the first of its kind in the region and we are proud to be part of it.”

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According to him, the project will go a long way in helping Dell Technologies showcase its suite of cutting-edge technologies.

‘‘The launch of the Experience Centre will support the growth of technology in Nigeria and the West African region. Also, it provides a fantastic platform for Dell Technologies to showcase the very many technologies we offer,” Travers added.

READ: How Apple lost over $500 billion in 12 trading days

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, is expected to commission the Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa.

Travers added that the Centre marked the first time global tech giants would come together to establish their respective experience centres under one roof to create a truly immersive and rich experience of latest technologies in action.

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