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Experts gather as ImpactGen holds tech innovation summit




A groundbreaking summit of prominent industry thought leaders, technology innovators, tech designers, digital experts and highly enthusiastic millennials with interest in technology held on Saturday, December 10th, 2016. The inaugural Technology Innovation Summit with the theme “LEADING GROWTH THROUGH TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION” was flagged off as the first ever broadly inclusive tech summit organised by ImpactGen a visionary foundation focused on driving economic growth and job creation through technology, innovation, enterprise development and leadership.

“The summit exceeded expectations in terms of attendance, with a broad-based participation from a diverse background which included technology and innovation professionals, digital communication experts, entrepreneurs and enterprise owners, visionary millennials and the media.

In his welcome address, the Founder/Executive Director, ImpactGen Foundation, and the Convener, ImpactGen Tech Innovation Summit, Greg Malize, stated ImpactGen is a foundation founded by millennials for millennials. It was birthed out of a burning desire to provide a platform where millennials can creatively engage with industry experts and thought leaders to share new knowledge and insights in the areas of technology, innovation, leadership and enterprise development. It is committed to creating programs for engagement, learning and networking that foster positive impact thereby raising a generation of impactful youth as future growth catalysts.

He noted that the ImpactGen Technology Innovation summit is the first of its kind and a series of programme lined up by ImpactGen that include, workshops, tech fairs and conferences and mentorship opportunities. The summit explores new learning and insights thereby aiding the continuous development of ideas, innovation and enterprise development among millennials.

In his speech, he noted that technology has penetrated into virtually all areas of life thereby making consumers engage with brands and businesses differently due to the growing power of connectivity and an explosion of new technology tools. This is evident in the rise of technology and the innovative breakthroughs in Payment, Medicine, E-lending etc, demonstrating a new shift that has impacted lifestyles.

According to Malize, “It is worthy of note that this summit is designed to stir and stimulate knowledge amongst participants at a time when technology and digital innovation has changed the business landscape. The ImpactGen Tech Innovation Summit is hinged on collection and documentation of new knowledge and best practice across diverse areas with a view to aiding innovation and drive enterprise development. The summit will equip participants to drive positive impact in their organisations or their personal enterprises, drive new enterprises, foster job creation and support overall economic growth”, he remarked.

In his opening presentation titled “Leading Growth Through Technology Innovation”, the keynote speaker Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Managing Director/CEO, Interswitch Limited and Nigeria’s notable technology and e-payment expert, re-echoed the importance of innovation. He shared profound perspectives on the ties between innovation, growth and value creation. “All of the world’s greatest corporation such as Guinness, Coca-Cola, GE, Ford and Apple are driven by innovation. They either innovate as value proposition or leverage technology innovation to deliver growth and bottom-line impact. They strategically deliver core innovative products, invent new technology and new breakthroughs, harness advancements in technologies while developing world-class talents” he said.

Other areas of emphasis by Elegbe were on digital technology. According to him, advances in digital technology have created important new industries and new jobs. Technology has brought about significant growth and specialisation within diverse industries be it hospitality, healthcare, banking and insurance and of course manufacturing and retail.

“Today, digital technology is driving unprecedented growth for innovative companies such as Uber, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, Airbnb and several others. Technology is helping these companies deliver solutions in much more dynamic, swifter and value filled approach. Their reach continuously grows wider with a higher level of market penetration and acceptance that deliver positive bottom-line” he exclaimed.
He also emphasised the importance of forming technology partnerships that foster collaboration and growth. He highlighted how partnering successfully with an industry peer, represent a growing trend among forward-thinking companies.
The plenary session kicked off with Femi Longe, Co-Founder Co-Creation Hub, a world class technology lab that uses technology to address societal problems. In his presentation on Winning With Technology Innovation, Longe reiterated the need to kick off the journey of technology innovation by identifying the actual problem requiring a solution.

He emphasised the need for tech enthusiasts to look inwards and take cognizance of the realities of their region as a developing economy different from the developed market. He opined that the rest of the world has very different realities, issues and challenges and are therefore thinking technology solutions in a way that is relevant to the issues they face which are totally different from the realities of our region.

According to Longe oftentimes when people have an insight, they make the mistake of jumping straight into finding the solutions to the problems they have identified without first understanding the real problem, the real issues, relative to their environment.

“Similar to identifying the problem is being strategic in dimensioning the solution. Besides identifying what problem you are solving, you need to find the fastest path to the solution. It is critical to identify whom the solution is for because the market is critical. Solutions are to serve a target market and understanding the viability of that target market becomes critical. He enjoined participants to focus on solving real problems for real people” he opined.

Longe noted that while solution design and testing is key, it is critical to start thinking at this point how technology can help achieve scale. “Technology deployment leads to scale and scale delivers growth,to” he remarked.
Speaking on Communication In A Digitized Economy was Tech Media Personality and ICT award winner, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata (CFA) Jr. He shared insights and strategies for keeping connected to the market leveraging Communications for growth. He emphasised the need for a well thought out communication and market position strategy that leverages technology.

“The digital economy encourages leveraging communication technology for positioning and growth. Drive communication in a way that it align with the needs of the target market. Ensure resonance with the target market by finding a connection with the market”. He enthused.

Sharing insights on where the opportunities are, Agbata said “For communication excellence today, it’s critical to cause some disruptions in order to break through the clutter and gain share of voice. Explore a hybrid communication model if seeking to be innovative with communications. Use a hybrid model that combines social media with all other platforms such as SMS messaging, Blackberry channels, WhatsApp messaging platforms etc. Tech products are not designed to be used by technology experts but by a critical number of consumers. Democratise your technology solutions in order to be attractive to a large volume of users outside the technology space in order to build a sustainable enterprise” he said.

Speaking on the plenary, Ndidi Nwuneli, Founder Leap Africa and Director, Nestle Nigeria PLC shared insight on Leap Africa’s approach in leveraging technology for social innovation. With the launch of e-Leap a technology driven product, Leap Africa captures all of its great work in over a decade, in an e-learning curriculum in order to reach a wider number of youths and potential future leaders.

With specific reference to the flagship e-Leap programme called e-integrity Leap has created an e-learning platform which is a short course on integrity with features like quizzes, videos and games keeping it highly interactive. Nwuneli shares on how LEAP has innovatively deployed technology to reach out to a larger number of millennials on their programme thereby achieving scale while developing and building future leaders in greater proportion.
“It is erroneously assumed that an average person knows the difference between right and wrong. The e-learning curriculum is an innovative solution created to aid personal development and therefore equips future leaders through digital courses on leadership that focus on value, ethics, cost of corruption and moral courage. The millennials can use these models to build up their characters and possibly measure themselves against desired standards” she enthused.

Re-echoing the tie between innovation and growth, Nwuneli stated that people who find solutions to society problems using technology are oftentimes rewarded. “Technology drives scale, reduces the cost of service delivery, supports impact measurement and helps with positive story telling and experience sharing, all of which lead to growth”, she enthused.

In closing, the plenary moderator Chinyere Mba-Uzoukwu Managing Director InfoGraphics Nigeria Limited summarized that the wave of young tech experts and enterprise driven millennials should be open to and seek new ideas and new knowledge in order to grow. According to him, the quest for knowledge and new ideas add up to an improvement in the existing body of knowledge and often times causes break through.

Speaking at the summit, Obi Asika, managing director, Dragon Africa and founder Social Media Week Nigeria said, “The Technology Innovation Summit organisers did a phenomenal job of outlining such thought-provoking and stimulating topics for the participants today. With a great line up of speakers drawn from industry experts in technology, payments, communication and leadership, social innovation and highly engaged participants, this Summit has lived up to expectation.

The ImpactGen Foundation team has indeed provided a platform for quality engagement amongst the millennial and industry experts which would certainly foster the positive shaping of a new wave of future leaders” he said.

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