[toggle title=”Introduction: ” expanded=”in”]Brian Integrated Systems, a Nigerian PC maker, has made a bold foray into the mobile computing space with the introduction of its Brian Tab, its Tablet PC range into the market. Tunji Balogun, Chairman of Brian Integrated Systems opened the doors of the company’s new head office to Technology Times in the bustling heart of Ikeja, the capital of Lagos and the nation’s epicentre of commerce.
He unfolded to the Technology Times team the vision behind the company’s decision to compete with big-name international brands for niche stakes in the Nigerian technology market.
Balogun, who was backed up by Laide Balogun, Managing Director of Brian; Makut Cinderella, Product Manager and Ojora Muyideen, Production Manager of the company also gave insights into the road ahead for the Nigerian technology company in the interview below: [/toggle]
TT: Before now, Brian was one of the key OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) accredited by the Federal Government and it has done well in the desktop space. What informed the need to come up with a Tablet?
Laide Balogun: We have been on the project for a while now and it is our core value at Brian to better our best. When we think we have come up with something new, we still want to move further, hence the introduction of the Tablet considering that technology is not static but dynamic.
We tried with the Android Tablet and people have embraced it but we thought we could up our game as regards the Tablet. So, we partnered with Intel to present this futuristic innovation and we have got feedback even it’s a few days old. I am so sure it will be sold out in no time.[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Tunji Balogun, Chairman of Brian Integrated Systems”]As for that initiative by the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, we have not seen millage in that because the banks have not been able to sign up fully on that. They have not been able to get credit facility to the student because of bureaucracy in their credit system. Right now, what the OEMs are doing is to create awareness with all the schools. The Ministry in conjunction with NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) has come up with incentives whereby they will give each student N5,000 towards the purchase of the Tablets.[/blockquote]
TT: With the introduction of the Tablet, what market segment are you looking? Is it the low, middle or top segment?
Laide Balogun: For now we been able to carve a niche for ourselves in the educational sector particularly for our credit facilities that provide flexible payment plan for public servants especially teachers because they can’t afford to pay at once for the Tablet.
So, they enjoy the flexibility of the payment plan. Basically, we target the educational sector but we are gaining more presence in banks and other sectors too.
TT: I am aware of the Federal Government scheme backed by Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to push out personal computers where they give a bank guarantee to OEMs like yourself to sell to students in tertiary institutions. Having looked at the workings of that scheme, what has been the experience? Is it been embracing by the banks?
Tunji Balogun: As for that initiative by the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, we have not seen mileage in that because the banks have not been able to sign up fully on that. They have not been able to get credit facility to the student because of bureaucracy in their credit system. Right now, what the OEMs are doing is to create awareness with all the schools. The Ministry in conjunction with NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) has come up with incentives whereby they will give each student N5,000 towards the purchase of the Tablets.
TT: Between the commencement of the scheme and now what kind of numbers have you seen in terms of uptake?
Tunji Balogun: To be honest with you, it hasn’t taken off. Its been up to a year now. We are going the other way round now. We want the OEMs to create the awareness.
TT: The new-entrant Tablet is targeting the educational sector. Most of the key players that targeted this sector have bundle one incentive or the other. What’s this Tablet coming with to make it attractive to that market segment apart from the price?
Makut Cinderella: That is why we partnered with Intel. Intel has a special educational application that they put on whatever has the “Intel Inside” trademark to be able to target educational sector to make learning easier than it used to be. There is a portal on the Tablet that also allows users to register and get many educational materials that is possible from primary to tertiary levels.
We also have another software apart from Intel educational software that is installed for teachers that basically makes them have easier lesson notes and set exams questions which makes their work a lot easier.
TT: We already have a product like Opon Imo and several other initiatives that is targeting that sector. What makes this different in terms of price-competitiveness that would enable you have quick penetration in the educational sector?
Laide Balogun: The credit facility has been one of our strongest points. Then, we have a track record when it comes to after-service support. We really have done well in terms of after-service support because our engineers go to the doorstep of our clients to check out problem with their Tablet and fix it immediately. That has worked for us.
TT: You said you have been on this for about a year now. What is the local market trend you have seen that gives you the confidence that this new-entrant Tablet will be a success?
Tunji Balogun: We are using the MTK processor which is commonly used for Tablets. Also, with the name that Intel and Microsoft have, it is easy for you to create and upgrade from your old system to what Intel and Microsoft have to offer. When it come to applications like Word processor, Excel and the likes, it is not easy for you to migrate from Android to Windows version. But with the new solution, it is a seamless effort. That is why we say we have upped our game.
TT: What is your projection and target over the next one year?
Ojora Muyideen: From our projection, we should be able to do far above 1000 per month because we are selling solutions, we are not just selling boxes.
TT: How does your in-house credit facility work?
Tunji Balogun: We have First Bank that is doing bridge finance. They are supporting us and we are good to go places.
TT: In the technology business today, mobility is more tailored towards business professionals and executives. What your strategy for moving into that key market space?
Laide Balogun: We realise that business does not stop at the desk, they move about. We have some measures of success with desktops, laptops and we understand that the Tablet is light and futuristic. The introduction of the Tablet is an innovation towards capturing the business executives and we are working in-house on our content.
Makut Cinderella: To add to that, the Tablet is tailored to all and sundry once you know how to use technology. The educational sector is an added advantage to the people who are in the educational world. Ours is a functional brand like what any other brand and you will get maximum satisfaction.
TT: What will be your competitive edge for the Brian Tablet?
Tunji Balogun: After-sales service. Like we said, we won’t wait for them to come. We would go to them. Our engineers are all over considering the fact that they (our clients) are very busy and that’s what makes us different.
TT: This is a Nigerian-made product and it is tough competing for foreign brands in the market. What is your message to those who prefer foreign technology products to those made in Nigeria?
Tunji Balogun: What I will tell them is to do side-by-side comparison. It is a Nigerian product but the warranty behind it is very powerful because if you have issues, we are there to take care of it by coming to you directly without going to any service centre. And some minor issue can be resolved through interacting with our client through mails and other social network platform.
TT: Any last word?
Makun Cinderella: Nigerians should learn to embrace local content. We should not put blame on government. We should encourage indigenous companies because we understand the terrain and that puts us at a vantage position.