What Nigerian CIOs need to know in 2018
By Emmanuel Tita Sama, Head of Sales, West & Central Africa, Orange Business Services
Information Communication Technology (ICT) plays a vital role in Nigeria’s social, economic and political sectors. In 2018, technological innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are expected to enable tremendous innovations and fundamentally transform Nigeria’s business, government and society.
Nigeria’s ICT sector contributes nearly 11.93% to its GDP, and is considered the second largest ICT market in Africa, according to the National Bureau of statistics (2016). As this sector continues to develop, it is important that Nigerian businesses remain on the cutting-edge of the latest trends and innovations, in order to remain relevant. Most importantly, CIO’s of businesses operating in the region should keep on top of the following trends this year:
1. Cloud and Edge computing accelerating due to the urgency of information services
An expansion in the number of data centres in the country has led to a rise in cloud computing and cloud services in Nigeria. “There is no doubt that cloud is the main catalyst in the transformation of core business functions and network activities in the region. With more and more businesses managing their IT on the cloud, efficient infrastructure becomes a necessity.
Edge computing means that information processing, content collection and delivery is placed closer to the sources of this information. Thus connectivity and latency challenges, bandwidth constraints and greater functionality embedded at the edge favours distributed models. Enterprises should begin using edge design patterns in their infrastructure architectures — particularly for those with significant IoT elements. For instance, in the case of an autonomous car - if it needs to make a decision, it needs the information instantly and no amount of latency is going to be acceptable.
2. Increased demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) driving customer services
AI and machine learning are stirring into virtually everything. IoT provides vast levels of data, which can be stored and processed in the cloud, whilst AI with its cognitive capabilities can use this data to create new products and services.
Basically, AI and cloud could be combined to become a pillar for innovation and a mechanism for faster transformation in the region. Leveraging AI and machine learning technologies will enhance technological services and applications. The ability to use AI to reinvent business models and enhance the customer experience will drive the splurge for digital initiatives throughout the coming year. The demand for systems that act autonomously and intelligently will be the next big thing.
3. The rise of intelligent Apps and next generation connectivity
With AI being a reality, we indulge in its benefits almost every day, for instance its presence in our smartphones, with apps such as Siri and chatbots, the future of AI is clear. Apps are now everywhere, with millions of new apps released and downloaded every day. It is predicted that virtually every application and service will incorporate some level of AI in the coming years. Nigeria’s mobile app market is forecasted to experience a significant growth of about 15% in the coming years as the growth of smartphones and broadband Internet continues to rise, according to Ventures Africa (2015).
With the rise of apps, Internet of things are bridging the gaps in connectivity, paving the way for any object to be connected and managed.
4. The rollout of immersive experiences will move us closer to personalized services
Following on intelligent technology, immersive experiences will make significant strides throughout 2018. Immersive experiences stimulate our senses — they draw us in, transport us to another place, and keep us in the moment. Immersion enhances everyday experiences, making them more realistic, engaging, and satisfying.
The immersive experience has as its foundation Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR). Through a mix of data science, machine intelligence, and creativity, virtual and augmented reality offers the opportunity to train and plan in a safe environment, without consequences. Mixed reality, a type of immersion that merges and extends the technical functionality of both AR and VR, is emerging as the immersive experience of choice providing a compelling technology that optimises its interface to better match how people view and interact with their world. Gartner predicts that by 2019, AR, VR and mixed reality (MR) solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20% of large-enterprise businesses.
For Nigerian businesses, developments in AR and VR pose a whole new ecosystem for personalised services, which are positioned to better the lives of many.
5. The financial sector leverages on block chain technology
With the FinTech landscape forecast to disrupt retail banking in Nigeria by 92%, according to a PwC’s Nigeria FinTech report (2017), the financial sector will leverage on unlocked opportunities for more revenue sources. Blockchain technologies offer a radical departure from the current centralised transaction and record-keeping mechanisms and can serve as a foundation for disruptive digital business for both established enterprises and start-ups. Although the hype surrounding blockchain originally focused on the financial services industry, blockchain has many potential applications, including in government, healthcare, manufacturing, media distribution, identity verification, title registry and supply chain.
Due to the lack of a single, comprehensive source of reliable, up-to-date data, tracking the expansion of ICT in Nigeria can be challenging. However, with the rise of IoT, cloud computing, AI, intelligent apps and blockchain technology, Nigeria’s ICT future looks promising. The year 2018 will focus on blending the digital and physical worlds to create an immersive, digitally enhanced environment. ICT technology continues to exploit connections between people and businesses, as well as devices, content and services to deliver digital business outcomes in Nigeria’s developing economy.