‘COVID-19, opportunity to evolve business practices, increase productivity’
The COVID-19 era has brought magnificent digital transformation. This could be regarded as a ‘new dawn’ in doing business in organisations, industries and enterprises globally. However, this transition truncates the traditional physical meeting of doing businesses, thereby putting a lot of business owners, employees, suppliers, third party contractors and others, on their toes. In this interview, Isabella Davanzo, the CEO and Founder of SIZA Creative Consulting Ltd, a digital advertising agency, with global operations based in Lagos, Nigeria, spoke on economic implications of not joining the digital train with the world, the necessity to evolve business practices and increase in productivity, the lessons learnt from the lockdown and others.
Tell us about the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown in business. What are the lessons learnt?
PERSONALLY, I always believe there’s something to be learned from every situation, especially unfavourable ones. After all, those are the ones that compel us to find creative solutions.
Although we have a traditional approach to business in Nigeria, but the COVID-19 disruption of normal operations, is an opportunity for us to evolve our business practices and increase productivity. It’s time like this that make or break us. The way we view situations shapes our reality. We challenge everyone to view this change, as an opportunity for improvement and motivation.
What’s your view on physical presence meeting culture in Nigeria? Do you think the digital meeting transition is well accepted?
Anyone who has worked in our dear country would have come across the countless jokes about our ‘meeting culture’, which leaves many of us thinking: “this meeting could have been a phone call” or “I just survived another meeting that could have been an e-mail.”
We initially were surprised with the situation. We later fit in just fine, and the ease at which we were able to transition to working collaboratively on Google docs, having digital meetings through Skype, Zoom and more. These tools have always been readily available to us, but we found that less than 20 per cent of the enterprises we worked with were comfortable with the traditional physical meeting practices. So, it seemed easier to have the meeting culture, but with the lockdown, enterprises realised that if they didn’t adopt digital meetings, they would be out of business. And in our findings, most of our associates are adopting these modern procedures to moveforward. So the transition seems seamless.
What major problem does this digital transition solve in Nigeria?
I recently read an article that estimated said Lagos commuters lose 75% of weekly working hours to traffic! Clearly, what significantly causes doing business in Nigeria especially Lagos to be so stressful is the never-ending traffic. This is the reason our physical meetings barely ever start on time. The traffic also adds to the constant stress we experience in our attempts to micromanage employees, suppliers, third-party contractors, and reduces overall economic output. This digital transition for transactions and meetings are the remedy COVID-19 era has provided us with. It is the ‘panadol’ to one of our severe headaches.
What is the future of businesses in Nigeria and what role is SIZA playing to this end?
The success of any organisation is based on its ability to adapt and evolve to changing times and SIZA is committed to this digital transition. We consider it a solution to the problems of Nigeria’s economy. The idea is to offer companies of all sizes the support they need to shift to the digital management of their business operations. This is the future of all businesses and SIZA is ready help to guide companies to the next level in a new economic environment.
How feasible is the idea of having employees work from home with the adopted transition of ease of doing business?
We recently came across a tweet by a disgruntled commuter, who said he left home by 5:30a.m and got to his place of work at 9:10 a.m. The young man tweeted “This is no longer work, it is suffer-head. Dear boss, can I work from home?” So, having employees come all the way to the office when they can do the same thing they do in the office at home, if provided with needed resources, is a total waste of time and as they say, time is money.
Time management is a crucial skill in operating a business successfully and living an overall productive life. In 2016, research revealed that traffic jams cost the city N42 billion each year and this figure continues to grow till date. So, if organisations and enterprises are able to integrate these digital methods of doing business into their operations, it will help them manage their time more efficiently, increase their productivity, reduce waste and lower their running costs.