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Digital reality and the future of business in Nigeria

The digital economy is the worldwide network of economic activities enabled by information and communications technologies (ICT). It can also be defined more simply as an economy based on digital technologies.
Digital Economy

Digital Economy

In recent years, Nigeria has earned a reputation as one of the fastest-growing media markets in Africa. Over the past few decades, the nation’s large population – currently estimated at around 170 million, according to the World Bank – and rapidly expanding middle class have driven demand for new newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes, music, film, and more recently, digital media of all sorts. The music industry and the Nigerian film industry have become significant cultural institutions in their own right, earning fans throughout Africa and further afield. Nigeria is the single largest media market in sub-Saharan Africa, and a handful of Nigerian media outfits have a pan-African reach. While the digital economy is still in its early days, its future is promising and the brands and individuals that integrate digital into the core of their work will reap the huge benefits when the space fully matures.

Deconstructing the term ‘Digital Economy’

The digital economy is the worldwide network of economic activities enabled by information and communications technologies (ICT). It can also be defined more simply as an economy based on digital technologies. Multiple definitions for the term exist, with variations in what should be included in this new economic paradigm. There are several key components that enable the digital economy. There’s the technology infrastructure itself – the hardware, software and networks. There are the digital processes by which business happens, in other words, the e-business component. Another key component is e-commerce, the digital transactions through which customers buy and obtain products and services from organizations.

The digital economy is sometimes called the internet economy, the new economy or web economy. But some economists assert that the digital economy is more advanced and complex than the internet economy, which under one definition, simply means economic value derived from the internet. Additionally, the term “digital economy” is not synonymous with earlier terms used to describe the technology-driven changes happening in 20th-century economy, such as “information economy” and “network economy.”

Fueled by personal devices, advanced digital technologies

The digital economy is continually evolving. First fueled by the growing use of personal computing devices, enterprise computing capabilities and internet access, it is now being driven by more advanced digital technologies, notably wireless networks, mobile devices, positioning technologies (i.e., GPS), and embedded sensors and real-time analytics.

Economists say the growing use of these technologies, coupled with the increasing use of digital technologies in conventional commercial environments, is blurring the distinction between the digital economy and the traditional one.

However, the digital economy is not simply about moving business transactions from face-to-face to online. The digital economy is about transforming the many facets of business interactions and transactions and also enabling economic innovations. For example, the digital economy both is enabled by and has given rise to the advent of new digital currencies and payment processes (i.e., Paga and mPESA).

Locating Nigeria on the digital economy map

The digital economy is developing rapidly worldwide. It is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth, and it holds huge potential for Nigerian entrepreneurs and enterprises. Unfortunately, only a small percent of enterprises are currently taking full advantage of new digital opportunities. How businesses adopt digital technologies will be a key determinant of their future growth.

New digital trends such as cloud computing, mobile web services, smart grids, and social media, are radically changing the business landscape, reshaping the nature of work, the boundaries of enterprises and the responsibilities of business leaders.

These trends enable more than just technological innovation. They spur innovation in business models, business networking and the transfer of knowledge and access to international markets.

Supported by the expansion of competing national fibre backbone networks, applications such as e-commerce, online banking and e-payments, e-health, e-learning and e-government are rapidly evolving. The government in early 2015 also committed to increasing broadband penetration from about 8% to 36% by 2018.

The growth in internet/mobile adoption amongst Nigerians present huge opportunities for businesses that take advantage of new technologies such as Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud, popularly called SMAC.

Nigerians of all shades are active on the social media as we all witnessed during the recent 2015 national elections. Social media is now an acceptable platform for interaction, entertainment, marketing, customer service delivery and communicating at the speed of light. With over 140m subscribers and over 100% penetration, Nigeria is the largest mobile market in Africa and the use of mobile devices provides an opportunity for companies to gain more analysis and insights about customer preferences – what they do online via their mobile devices, when, where, and for how long – and how companies can improve the customer experience to gain their loyalty and continued patronage. Let us take a look at some brands who are taking advantage of the opportunities in the ‘new economy’.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) recently launched a Virtual Prepaid MasterCard. The card which is issued instantly via Internet Banking, provides an option for security conscious online shoppers who prefer not to use their regular debit/credit cards when making online payments. What this means is that customers can do with the virtual card all the things they can do with a physical card. The virtual card can be used to make both international and local online payments. This is a clear case of a banking institution thinking digital innovations that make processes better for clients.

The advent of e-commerce giants Jumia and Konga in the Nigerian space has also led to a dramatic opening in the industry calculated to be worth US$13 billion in 2018. Reduction in costs and access to large numbers of people are major reasons driving the establishment of more internet solutions and the shift from physical to online. Ultimately, success in this industry will largely depend on new innovations that guarantee comfort, ease, and fast feedback.

We are living in an age of the empowered consumer – who demands hyper relevance (“Know me”), personalized relationships at scale (“Show me you know me”), seamless customer experience (“Delight me”) and is inherently mobile (“Enable me”).

In an environment of increasing technological disruptions, it is not a matter of if, but of when. Hence, there are just two options – disrupt or be disrupted. The question is which of these options will determine the fate of your business.

MTN launches digital TV service in Plateau State

Telecommunications giants, MTN Nigeria have launched MTN TV, the first digital TV service in Nigeria, making them the first Nigerian telecom to launch its own digital TV service.
This comes as part of the brand’s commitment to provide Nigerians with innovative digital platforms which will enhance the way people work and play.

With this service, “Nigerians will have the liberty to watch TV programs on their smartphones and other devices via Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms like WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger, Facebook, Twitter and others”, said Lynda Saint-Nwafor, MTN Nigeria Executive.

Having spent N59 billion naira on this project, Ferdi Moolman, the Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, said that subscribers will have the freedom to watch their favourite programs when they chose the MTN Video-on-Demand (VOD) service, which will be more preferable to watching them at specific broadcast times.

This launch is sequel to the issuance of a digital broadcast license to MTN by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in 2015.

Nigerian banks double down on mobile banking technology

Mobile devices have grown in capacity and performance. They are now engineered to perform effectively than ever before. In today’s new economy, advancement in technology and the growth of ICT has encouraged a cashless society, one where people can carry out transactions on the go without the physical exchange of cash. Today, banks in Nigeria have provided services that allow customers transfer cash from their accounts to another with or without data, purchase airtime and more. They have also created mobile applications and internet banking systems, to improve banking experience by customers and guarantee excellent service delivery.

Design agency creates kids art from Abraham Lincoln’s famous letter

We now live in an era where there is so much information than ever before, and sadly, declining attention span. In some cases, effective communication is being limited to a hundred and forty characters, hashtags, pictures and short videos. In a stylish commemoration of the 2016 Children’s Day celebration, FourthCanvas, a Lagos-based design agency across its social media platforms released visual posters made for kids from the famous letter of Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher. The letter was written in bright colours, beautiful fonts and with nice shapes all in a series of pictures. The company can be quoted saying “there is the huge worth of life in these words but these kids wouldn’t read it in plain text”.

Troyka Group, HotSauce offer tech start-ups opportunities

Marketing communications group, Troyka Group and HotSauce are offering technology start-ups in Nigeria and other West African countries the opportunity to participate in the Viva Technology Start-up Connect Paris 2016.

HotSauce, Troyka Group’s digital innovation company, will be sponsoring select Nigerian start-ups that qualified to pitch at Viva Technology Start-up Connect event. According to the group, this comes in a bid to ensure that Nigerian tech start-ups also had a chance to participate in this grand opportunity.

Viva Technology Start-up Connect is an initiative from the Publicis Groupe, a leader in marketing communication and business transformation. According to the Group, the event will host the world’s biggest players in the digital, technology ecosystem thereby offering an opportunity for networking and collaboration with globally renowned corporations.

The Guardian Nigeria launches online TV

Highly reputable newspaper, The Guardian has launched its own online TV platform Guardian TV to expand its news, entertainment and sports coverage. One of the things ICT has successfully introduced is media integration. In the past, traditional forms of media could only be accessed directly – to listen to radio someone had to have a radio, to read newspapers, someone had to buy newspapers. The internet has successfully integrated the media in such a way that while online, an individual can watch TV shows, listen to the radio and read newspapers without moving a muscle. This, in turn, has created news jobs like ‘social media marketing’, blogging, website designing and more. Media integration has also forced traditional media house to embrace technology and follow upcoming trends in order to remain relevant. The case of The Guardian newspaper launching an online TV platform is a perfect example of this.

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