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Govt must focus on improving technological landscape to grow economy, says Sanni

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Adebayo Sanni

Adebayo Sanni

Adebayo Sanni is the Country Managing Director, Oracle Nigeria, which he joined almost three years ago. In this role, he provides leadership for Oracle’s operations, growth and profitability in the country. Having spent over two decades in the ICT industry, he has developed management expertise in sales, business development and technology. During his career, he worked in various countries within and outside Africa.

Before joining Oracle, Sanni was the Group Chief Executive Officer of XTIData, with responsibility for defining the company’ s corporate strategy that delivered double-digit growth for the group. Prior to this, he worked with Cisco Systems Africa in various capacities, including Channels, Marketing, Sales, and East Africa Managing Director where he helped to build sales and channels delivering positive year-on-year growth. Sanni holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). Besides, he is a member of several bodies, within and outside the country. In this interview with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, he sheds light on thorny industry issues.

What is your impression about Nigeria’s ICT sector?
We are truly in exciting times, Africa is today where Asia, China and India was a few years ago and growth is expected to significantly increase and many more recognizing this growth cannot be achieved without leveraging technology. With increased access to the Internet in Nigeria, we have seen huge growth, let me explain; Look at the telecoms industry; between 1960 and 2001 there was 400,000 subscriber lines, between 2001 and today, we have experienced a subscriber growth to over 130 million lines and growing. Mobile Internet penetration is today at almost 100million users.

These numbers were less than 10 per cent just a decade ago and much less before 2001; mobile access has significantly fueled the growth of ICT in Nigeria. The big challenge I see is around skills to support this technological growth, as we continue to build IT infrastructure, Nigeria lacks skilled resources to support the growth. With more than 65 per cent of Nigerian population less than 25 years, this challenge should be seen as an opportunity to build an IT services led country, as an alternative to our energy dependence.

The responsibility to deliver this lies with both the government and private companies who needs to play a key role in supporting skills development. Through Oracle’s partnership with various State, Federal government, Private organizations and Non-profit organizations, we will continue to support skills in Nigeria, however more is required to sustain this growth.

How has Oracle been relating with the various tiers of government, and the private sector in the country?
Oracle is super committed to Nigeria. The level of commitment significantly increased three years ago with an investment decision from our Corporate Headquarters in San Francisco.

We have since tripled our workforce, a 100 per cent of the entire management team are Nigerians, we have invested in a new offices in Lagos and Abuja as we closely work with the new government through the Ministry of Commutation to support actualizing the Government’s key priorities. Through our corporate leadership team, we also continue to partner with organizations like MTN, Oando, among others in the private sector.

We continue our partnerships with state governments like Lagos, Edo, Akwa Ibom and many more through our readiness trainings for executives and employees to drive better governance. We continue to support various non-profit organizations including Innovation hubs, Women in Technology, riders for health and many more. We are also extending our Education reach through new partnerships with the Ministry of Education and other Ministries.

Oracle has been in the forefront of promoting the adoption of cloud technology in the country, to aid business and economic growth. How has organisation been able to sell this, even to the informal sector of the economy?
Cloud Computing, simply put is a style of computing where massively scalable & secure IT-enabled capabilities are delivered ‘as a service’ to organizations using Internet technologies. These organizations can outsource part or all of their new and existing IT Software & Hardware infrastructure thus allowing their core team focus on new and innovative ways to help grow their business.

Why is Oracle seriously campaigning for Cloud Technology adoption in a developing economy like Nigeria?
We all understand the current political and economic situation in Nigeria and other parts of the world, deep global depression due to oil prices, security, naira devaluation, slowdown in GDP, reality is times are getting tougher and executives are searching for answers, consistently looking for alternative ways they can leverage technology to drive efficiency and also save cost. Increasingly they are turning to the cloud, a financial shift from capital to operational expenditure, a true technology platform that allows these companies react more spontaneously to global economic events.Two big commercial reasons cloud is so key today; executives are being faced with enormous pressure to use technology to innovate and do so on faster cycles, speed and agility thus becomes pivotal. They also need to deliver this innovation with much tighter IT budget largely due to stagnant revenue growth and razor thin margins as we have seen recently in oil and gas and Manufacturing sectors.

Today, Cloud gives these executives compelling reasons to seek commercially viable alternatives for their IT team allowing them focus delivering innovative ideas rather than managingservers, operating systems and databases and huge support costs on their Premises.

What is your assessment of the technology so far?
Cloud adoption globally has been phenomenal, just over the last one year Oracle has experienced amazing growth. This is mainly due to Oracle’s ability to offer a breadth of Cloud services; from Software as a service, Platform as a service and Infrastructure as a service, allowing customers better Speed of Innovation when compared with conventional SW maintained on their Premises. Cloud allows customers to add new Software every three months compared to every 3 years when compared with Software maintained on their premises.

As our CEO SafraCatz mentioned, Oracle cloud service is in the “hyper-growth” phase, our SaaS&PaaS revenue grew 61 per cent when compared with year-earlier quarter, a clear indication of cloud adoption increase especially with Oracle customers. We are also experiencing adoption increase in Nigeria, as customers continue to seek cheaper yet secure and reliable options that offers them choices. Oracle is able to offer these choices to our Nigerian customers; paying for only what they consume (Cloud), owning the Licenses (On Premise) or a blend of both (Hybrid). I will share examples from three different sectors within the country adopting Oracle cloud platform; one of Nigeria’s Top Banks will be using Oracle ERP & HR Cloud to standardize its financial reporting and Human capital across all its branches in Nigeria & rest of Africa. A Major Telecom provider is using Oracle SaaS to deliver its Customer Experience and lastly an Indigenous Oil and Gas Company using Oracle BI Cloud to consolidate its Management reporting.

Looking at the Nigerian ecosystem, how has the informal sector, SMEs and people at the lower social cadre responded to its adoption?
Oracle sees Cloud services as a huge opportunity in the SME space, we have spent the last decade rewriting our entire portfolio of products specifically for the cloud today, we saw this revolution coming many years ago. Today with modern cloud applications, we finally have the technology that’s compelling both technically and commercially, now we have the potential of doing more and spending less doing it. Cloud thus allows Oracle not only address its typical enterprise type customers but also providing a platform for the Small and Medium Enterprises. Oracle is able to offer companies that otherwise might perceive Oracle products as beyond their budget a “ Pay for what you consume” subscription model. We are very excited about the opportunity to serve better the SME space, another commitment from Oracle for Nigeria.

In terms of security, how would you describe Oracle’s data recovery strategy, just in case an unfortunate incident happens?
Security I dare say has typically been our customer’s biggest challenge. Three out of four customers knowingly or otherwise have at one stage experienced some sort of network security breach. Recently a major UK based telecoms operator had their network infiltrated giving full access to their five million-subscriberbase. One of the five key strengths of Oracle Public Cloud is Security, with our 19 data centers geographically spread across the globe, offering best of breed always on secure environment, this guarantees safety and protection of our customer’s data. In addition to the 19 Datacentres, Oracle is Building a new datacentre in Abu Dhabi with the aim of getting closer to customers requiring proximity to their data geographically.

For some of the major players in Africa, when are they likely to see an Oracle Data centre coming to this part of the world, particularly in our country?
As I mentioned earlier, our Customer’s biggest challenge is always on secure and reliable access to their data whenever and wherever required, Oracle is able to offer this to our customers irrespective of the location of our 19 data-centers. Despite Nigeria being a major market for Oracle, decision on an oracle datacentre is premised on a comprehensive list of criteria that hasn’t yet made Nigeria the next Oracle data-centre location. The recent decision on Abu Dhabi as next location is a clear indication Oracle continues to listen to its customers.

How does data governance affect cloud technology in the country?
Public service agencies, including government, education, and healthcare, are increasingly looking for lower cost and more flexible ways to improve efficiency, flexibility and integrity of their systems, Cloud has come to be Globally recognised as both a business and deployment model that enables public sector organizations to achieve these aspirations. With Nigeria’s focus on leveraging Technology to drive better Public Sector efficiency and reduction cost, a shared service structure where government agencies are able to share common data services is very important. This is a Private cloud model, thus irrespective of Cloud model deployed in Nigeria, its very important the government implements data governance policies that promote and also protect Local and International investment. Oracle and other OEMs have been in consistent discussions and dialogue with the government on country data protection whilst encouraging an environment that allows cost reduction and efficiency through newer technologies.

What is the worth of the cloud technology in Nigeria?
The potential is hugely estimated at almost $110 billion in the next three years globally. However, we should look at cloud technology from the potential customer cost savings perspective. Cloud at maturity is expected to save businesses globally by over $150 billion. Cloud adoption in Nigeria is expected to significantly increase as companies focus more on speed of innovation and pay as you consume model, significant cost savings in billions of Naira will be achieved over the next few years and this in turn defines the true worth of Cloud technology in Nigeria.

How has Oracle been able to manage competition globally?
With pressures on Organization to innovate and CIO’s role changing, need to simplify IT to allow CIO’s focus on innovation becomes critical, Oracle’s biggest competitive advantage is our ability to offer a one-stop shop (From the Application layer to Storage) with options that truly helps simplify the complexities of IT environment. Our ability to offer customers the three tiers of Public Cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), Private Cloud or a blend of both positions Oracle as customer’s preferred choice.

Is it possible to collocate when it comes to cloud technology on Infrastructure?
Anything is possible in Technology, what is key is the What and the Why, Oracle’s ability to offer our customers a one-stop Cloud shop, be it Public or Private Cloud addresses your question, however with a Private Cloud Solution, customers are able decide location of Infrastructure which can reside in a 3rd party data-centre.

What is the difference between public and private cloud?
With public cloud, physical software and hardware are owned and operated by third-party providers with no hardware, software or maintenance costs, you simply pay for what you plan to consume. Private cloud, on the other hand, is a bespoke infrastructured purely dedicated to you as a customer. It can be hosted either on your premises or at a service provider data centre, to provide shared services across the organization.

What are the landmark achievements of Oracle in Nigeria?
Oracle over the last two decades in Nigeria has achieved immense success necessitating further investment by our Headquarters three years ago, trippling our workforce, ensuring 100 per cent of Nigerians are in management, partnering consistently with the government, non-profit and private sectors, through our Oracle University introduced several trainings to many Universities across Nigeria whilst ensuring over 95 per cent of banks, 100 per cent of telecommunications sector, many government agencies, oil and gas, and many more are currently leveraging Oracle Solutions to drive efficiency and save costs. We remain committed to Nigeria and very aligned with the Nigerian government priorities, supporting the drive to use Technology as the platform to drive transparency and accountability in government.



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