Nigeria | CIOs outline pathways to digital transformation

Nigeria | CIOs outline pathways to digital transformation

Nigeria | CIOs outline pathways to digital transformation

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Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of top Nigerian companies at the IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 have identified infrastructural decay and failure to change approach as major obstacles delaying Nigeria from achieving digital transformation.

The IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 held May 18, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel, GRA in Ikeja, Lagos offered a unique opportunity for the region’s leading CIOs to network with the industry’s brightest lights, discover cutting-edge insights into the latest tech trends, and share invaluable experiences with their peers.

During a panel discussion which focused on how Nigeria can achieve digital transformation by emulating what is happening in other parts of the world, the panellists which included Oladimeji Kazeem, IT Manager at PAL Pensions; Ejike Osisioma, CIO Royal Exchange Assurance Plc and Rufus Magbegor, IT Manager of Oriental Energy Resources unanimously agreed that improved infrastructure is very vital if Nigeria wants to achieve digital transformation.

For Magbegor, enabling digital transformation in Nigeria will revive “not only our businesses but also our politics.” According to him, “digital transformation is relevant in Nigeria. I can tell you that. A while ago, I was discussing with some of my colleagues and we were talking about catching up of Nigeria with the rest of the world using the social media to revive businesses, even politics. I think we can take advantage of it because it will help in reducing the cost and increase revenue generation. So, it’s very key.”

According to the PAL Pensions IT Manager, Nigerians cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. There must be a kind of reorientation in the way we approach issues, in the way we deploy technologies, and in the way we put strategies together.

The IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 held May 18, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel, GRA in Ikeja, Lagos offered a unique opportunity for the region’s leading CIOs to network with the industry’s brightest lights, discover cutting-edge insights into the latest tech trends, and share invaluable experiences with their peers, particularly on digital transformation.
The IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 held May 18, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel, GRA in Ikeja, Lagos offered a unique opportunity for the region’s leading CIOs to network with the industry’s brightest lights, discover cutting-edge insights into the latest tech trends, and share invaluable experiences with their peers, particularly on digital transformation.

Also speaking, Osisioma of Royal Exchange Assurance Plc says that Nigeria has potentials and will no doubt catch up with the rest of the world if the necessary infrastructures are put in place. “There are opportunities to catch up, the only challenges are communication, infrastructure and probably power. The opportunities are here, Nigeria has the biggest Internet penetration in Africa and mobility is there, there is a research that says Nigerians have more mobile phones than toothbrushes. So the opportunities are there, the only thing hindering us is infrastructure, and if these things are taken care of I am sure we will get there.”

On his part, Kazeem of PAL Pensions highlighted how change is needed for digital transformation in Nigeria, saying that, “for me, I think they have said it all. Other things I feel should be mentioned is around people. I was going through the Internet the other day and I found out that in Nigeria alone we have 92 million people with Internet on their mobile devices, what that says to you and I is that put together the population of Kenya and South Africa, they will not be up to 92 million. Now what happens is that Nigeria is on the way to the top, and if we are on the way to the top transformation is the key. However, outside power and other stuff mentioned by Rufus, I still feel we still need to go through that process of change of mind.”

According to the PAL Pensions IT Manager, Nigerians cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. There must be a kind of reorientation in the way we approach issues, in the way we deploy technologies, and in the way we put strategies together.

“So I think if we are able to solve this we will go a long way. I can tell you when you come into an organisation with a very high level of spirit that okay we are going to implement some changes, bring in some things, they will fight you. What this says to you and I is that we still have that old mentality. So, we need to think differently, in other words, there must be vision and the vision has to be adequately communicated to who and who should be part of it,” Kazeem tells the IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 attendees.

The IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017panelists respectively also confirm that the transition to digital transformation in their various companies have been yielding some positive results that is being appreciated by the management of their respective companies.

Cross section of attendees at the IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 held May 18, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel, GRA in Ikeja, Lagos, which gathered the region’s leading CIOs
Cross section of attendees at the IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 held May 18, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel, GRA in Ikeja, Lagos, which gathered the region’s leading CIOs

According to the Royal Exchange Assurance CIO, Osisioma, “digital transformation is something we embraced quite early and the board is very willing to support us. So for us we have gotten the board’s support, which is very key. Big data is something we are looking forward to. We are not there yet because we still need to do a lot in terms of transforming a lot of operations into digital in order to get the kind of data we can begin to manage to make headway, near real time predictions and so many other things and also to enhance customer experience.”

Rufus Magbegor, IT Manager, Oriental Energy
Rufus Magbegor, IT Manager, Oriental Energy

In his words of advice to the CIOs, Osisioma who identified getting budget approval from the board as a big challenge for CIOs admonished them to encourage their various organisations to create an IT committee for easy funds approval.

“I think most of the challenge many of us have is getting approvals even when you have a brilliant proposal. In our case we have a committee, an IT steering committee. This committee was created by the board. So when most proposals go through that process, it becomes easier for the board to say yes, the right processes have been followed. So many of us at times face challenges with this committee but most times it turns out that once this is coming from them, it is easier to sell to the board than coming from IT, Osisioma adds.

Also advising the CIOs, both Kazeem and Omagbegor say that communication to all levels of the organization remains vital if CIOs in Nigeria want to succeed in bringing about digital transformation in their various companies.

“What I will say is communication is key. Get the executives to buy in. If you don’t have IT committee you need to work with executives. If you are bringing a solution, make sure you ask for the challenges of that solution. If you just bring a solution and say this is it, it is going to be great, they may not like it. So, first of all ask for the challenges,” Omagbegor says.

Kazeem on the other hand says that “my advice is that every one of us is expected to come up with a strategy which should be derived from the business strategy. The first thing is understand the business strategy, the business direction, from there you craft out a digital transformation strategy, and from this strategy create a set of objectives that interprets business expectations, mark these objectives to various components of the organisation. Please do not forget to communicate with all the levels of the organization.”

Oladimeji Kazeem, ICT Manager, Pal Pension
Oladimeji Kazeem, ICT Manager, Pal Pension

According to him, “the executives, your BNS, the guys down the line, there must be different levels of communication, because if you communicate with these guys, any time you walk up to them you may find. So this has been one thing that I have been practicing which have been helpful. I have never had issues getting approval from my management. It’s all because of communication. All we need to do is just this and I am sure we will get there.”

The annual IDC West Africa CIO Summit 2017 which was well attended by CIOs and other top IT personnel from various organisations had other presentations by IT experts which looked into possible best practices to achieve digital transformation in Nigeria and across West Africa.

Donatus Anichukwueze

Technology Journalist at Technology Times Media
Phone No: 08074016066
e-mail: donatus.anichukwueze@technologytimes.ng

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