Key trends that will dominate Nigerias Information Communications Technology (ICT) market this year, 2015

Information and communications technology applications can be found in practically every area of life; they shape our private lives and our work. But while there is extensive and detailed media coverage of the changes in private communication, the significant and frequently far reaching impact that ICT has on the world of work receives far less attention in Nigeria.

ICT is also becoming increasingly important on a macroeconomic level. Not only is the ICT industry a steadily growing sector with a high economic significance, ICT based solutions and technologies also make a valuable and very important contribution to value creation in other sectors, e.g. trade or manufacturing industries.

Intelligent ICT solutions not only help to make business processes more efficient, competitive and innovative through flexibility, collaboration and mobility.

Many new and innovative business models are only made possible because of ICT. ICT influence entire industries and also the social impact of doing business. Important user industries for these new ICT solutions include the health sector, the education sector, automotive and transport, and the entire public sector.

The outcome of 2015 general election is proposed to lead a stable government which spread hope that the Nigeria economy will once again experience a boost. Based on previous 2014 data, GDP growth is on a downswing and retail inflation appears to be going up more than expected, due to failed government prices mechanizing of commodities, and inefficient fiscal control, even though the Nigerian economy was claim to be the biggest economy in Africa which the impact did not show on citizens.

The present government will do well by taking a number of steps to push through economic reforms, facilitate growth, foster transparency, build up infrastructure and bring in foreign investment. This will improve business sentiment.

Nigerias businesses are now eager to embrace growth and are seeking smart solutions to help them achieve their goals. In the midst of all this and in part because of ICT marketplace are expected to experience significant shifts, Godphraim Integrated Services examines key ICT trends expected to dominate Nigerias ICT market in 2015

Trends That Will Dominate Nigerian ICT in 2015

1. Information Technology (IT) Convergence and Mobile Applications

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Software and solutions based on Personal Computers (PCs) and networks can no longer meet the requirements of end users. This make end-user market segments to become more diverse in needs and requirements, this also them embrace a plethora of devices and platforms. At the end, it prompts the need to access and use information across platforms and devices. The same applications are required to run across access points from traditional PCs to mobile devices with varying capabilities, e.g. smartphones, tablets, blackberry, android, and 2-in-1 convertibles. The business community has adopted “agility as their watchword, and they’re eager to embrace solutions that can help them achieve their goals. As a result, an articulated transformation agenda is need, heralding a convergence of IT and mobile applications. These new age solutions need to be device agnostic, interoperate across networks, and ultimately lead to organisational efficiencies and agility.

2. Greater Opportunities for Datacenter Hosting and Co-Location

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Nigeria is seeing a significant rise in the number of datacenters being established in the country. There are major business opportunities for firms to establish datacenters here in Nigeria despite the very unfriendly conditions; particularly power. Power and power redundancy is a major factor that could significant affect the uptime of datacenters. One of the huge opportunities for firms to establish datacenters in Nigeria lies in the policy by the CBN that prevents certain financial information from being stored outside the shores of Nigeria, effectively preventing them from the massive scaling opportunities the cloud can provide.

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The move to establish dedicated datacenter operations in Nigeria will better position the IT industry. This is intended to meet the needs of the local market, where concerns about data integrity and security, latency issues and governmental regulations regarding data hosting within the country’s international borders are high. With vendors like MTN Business Lagos Datacenter, Broadbased Communications Limited, Rack Centre, Globacom, MainOne, Nigerias Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), and other upcoming vendors, likely to move in the same direction, 2015 could see greater opportunities for datacenter hosting and co-location service providers. Traditionally conservative segments that have not yet embraced data hosting due to concerns about datacenters located on foreign shores (e.g. government agencies and municipal bodies, and businesses subject to strict security regulations that prohibit data being hosted outside the country), are now keen to explore its benefits. This shift in marketplace dynamics could greatly expand the potential for datacenter hosting and co-location services in the year ahead.

3. Remote Managed IT Services (RMITS)

Interest in and awareness of remote managed IT services (RMITS) is high, especially among smaller businesses. These firms lack adequate internal IT resources to manage their ICT infrastructure. They are highly reliant on third parties for support. RMITS offer a number of benefits to end users like hassle free, on time fault rectification with zero downtime, less pressure on internal IT staff, cost savings, enhancement of process efficiency, ability to focus on core competencies, etc. However, a hybrid ICT support can avail themselves of the best of both worlds on premise solutions as well as remote managed IT services from service providers. RMITS has emerged as a vital tool being bundled by more and more businesses. This enables organisation to reduce overall operational costs due to fewer personnel being deployed, reduced travel costs, a lower number of complaints being managed, etc. This is a leading growth area for business organisation, while providers offering IT management solutions and platforms, e.g. MTN Business Lagos Datacenter, Broadbased Communications Limited, Rack Centre, Globacom, MainOne, Nigerias Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), have also seen considerable growth.

4. Social Media as the New Marketing Tool

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As end users increasingly embrace social media, sharing their likes, dislikes, personal and work-related moments and thoughts with friends and colleagues on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., their information consumption patterns are also undergoing a shift. Rather than relying on traditional marketing tools like print advertisements and flyers for information about new products, solutions and ideas, users are turning to friends’ and colleagues’ reviews and perceptions to garner more information. Marketers, too, have to follow suit. It’s no longer enough to execute a traditional marketing campaign. It’s imperative to blaze a trail across digital social media. Presently many organisations do have a limited presence in social media, but they have not been able to effectively utilize this as a marketing tool, nor to integrate social media into their strategic marketing plan. However, with greater awareness of the benefits of social media, marketers are now tying activities to their business goals and using these platforms strategically and in an integrated manner with their organisation’s overall marketing plan.

5. Need for Actionable Insights Leads to Growth of Big Data and Analytics

“Big data and “analytics have emerged as technology buzzwords in recent years, yet adoption of such solutions has been limited in Nigeria. However, 2015 should see a large number of enterprises shifting away from conventional investments and focusing on these areas. A key priority for medium and large businesses will be to harness and analyse big data to derive insights into how products and services are being received, and how efficiently assets are utilised. Enterprises in Nigeria are keen to focus on using fact based decision-making tools to rationalise costs and time for businesses, and to hasten the decision-making process and make it more innovative. This focus on big data will naturally lead to a growth in usage of predictive analytics solutions that can gather, manage and make sense of the organisations big data.

Finally, to encourage the growth and sustainability of information technology in Nigeria, the government is expected to invest heavily in E-Governance and Cloud.

Implementing e-governance practices at the center and also among the individual states will make IT more pronounce, and this will assist policy makers to take appropriate decision that affect IT in Nigeria. However this is a huge pending task for the government easier said than done. Government is encouraged to adopt cloud computing in order to facilitate this task despite the high cost. To leverage the benefits of the cloud, the government should launch the National Cloud to accelerate delivery of e-services in the Nigeria.

On the other hand, educational institutes should become IT-Savvy. ICT is a vital tool facilitating the entire process of education. Institutions all over the nation have been increasingly utilising ICT to automate daily business functions, however, at a very slowly steps. They have been slowly adopting various solutions right from end-to-end educational/ERP software that automates every step to other solutions that facilitate the learning process (e.g. exam management, assessment, online tests, collaboration, digital assessment, social learning exchange, etc). Apart from these specialised applications there is a continuous demand for IT in multiple areas traditional hardware (PCs/servers), software such as OS, mailing, security and storage/database management.

Additional opportunities include content digitisation, document archiving, and collaboration software and services.

IT is no longer a theoretical concept now it is becoming real and is considered an Industry on its own. With good policy, this will definitely have an impact on almost all industry verticals such as agriculture, transportation, professional services, healthcare, energy, etc.

The manufacturing sector will also be a major vertical for IT in 2015. Use of newer business intelligence tools will help in predictive maintenance and optimisation of processes and production.

This is expected to result in financial and productive gains for manufacturers.

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