Nigerian South African Chamber of Commerce

Members Directory


Posted on: 07 Feb 2018

Digitization of life reminds one about the series of economies the world has experienced to date, the latest being ICT economy, that is digital economy. Before it was Hunters and Gatherers Economy, Agricultural Economy, and Industrial Economy. This is not to say that these three precursor economies are moribund, but it is suffice to say the digital economy has taken pre-eminence over them, has come to re-energize them.

What else should we say about a system, a technology that changes the way of life – be it business, finance, social, political, and to mention but a few.

Olubayo Adekanmbi delivered his message with electrifying passion and eloquence. He spoke about having a data mindset – building a data culture, data being the new oil, data disruption for growth and development.

These are specifically for the business-person: Who will be your biggest competitor in the next 5 years? What are the likely alternatives to your products/services in the next 3 years? How relevant is your product and service to the Under-10 years? What is the biggest market shift that can reduce your market share in the next two years?  Why will customers remain loyal to your product/service? The audience was told data could address these questions.

A strategic public-private partnership focused on machine learning in Nigeria is vital to repositioning the country as a key player in the fourth industrial revolution era driven by digital technology.

Olubayo Adekanmbi, MTN Executive, shared this as the keynote speaker at the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce November breakfast meeting in Lagos.

Focusing on the theme “The Data Mindset: Inspiring Growth and Development Across Sectors”, Adekanmbi asserted that Nigeria had the potentials to leapfrog in a hi-tech driven age, if there is a government-led and private-sector driven approach to machine learning, which is the centrepiece of the developments that will shape the economy utilizing Data.

He noted that Data was the new oil and the 21st century economics which is more knowledge based, will be anchored by Data. The MTN CTO also identified “Internet of Things” (IOT) as a strategic enabler that will change the landscape of the services industry.

According to him “Data in the 21st century is like oil in the 18th century: an immensely, untapped valuable asset like oil for those who see data’s fundamental value and learn to extract and use it there will be huge rewards. We need to turn our data infrastructure from a cost-center to a profit-center”

He called it ‘Age of Data’ but I call it ‘Power of Data’. It is really the power of data reflected in big names as listed by Adekanmbi. The big names:  Skype that records 110,000 calls every  minute of the day; Facebook  that records 4.2 million posts every minute of the day; same with  Twitter – users send 347,222 tweets; Snapchat – users share 284,722 snaps; Instagram users like 1.7 million photos, etc.

Speaking further, he said Data is the engine of Transformation, with remarkable innovations in “Big Data” and “Analytics”. Big Data is the ubiqitous networks and device proliferation that enable access to massive and growing amount of traditionally silo-ed information.

Adekanmbi spoke about ‘Data continuum’ which has to do with the “Internet of Things connects all manner of end-points, unravelling a treasure trove of data; ubiquitous networks and device proliferation enable access to a massive and growing amount of traditionally siloed information; and Analytics and Business Intelligence tools empower decision makers as never before by extracting and presenting meaningful information in real time, helping us to be more predictive.”

Customers are changing

For him, customers are now changing; customers are now more complex than you think… Data can help address this. This is the picture according to Olubayo:

  • Traditional research has failed
  • Unsegmented behaviours
  • Kiddults, Omni-sapiens, Anti-brands, proxy users etc.
  • Contextual duality
  • Organic solidarity
  • SoLoMo

More on power of data from Adekanmbi:

  • A smartphone app as an assistive pathological tool that will be beneficial for automatic detection of malaria etc.
  • Patients can take a snapshot with their phones, and – instead of scrutinising it under a microscope – feed the picture to a database. The algorithm then compares it with other blood samples and identifies if the disease is present.

Kudi uses an everyday conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to communicate with you. She helps you transfer money, keep track of your account details, buy airtime, pay recurrent bills such as GOTV, DSTV And PHCN and it also reminds you when some of these bills are due.

Zenvus: Precision farming data product from Nigeria

  • Zenvus is an intelligent solution that uses proprietary electronics sensors to collect soil data like moisture, nutrients, potential of hydrogen etc and send them to a cloud server via GSM, satellite or Wifi.
  • Algorithms in the server analyze the data and advice farmers on farming.
  • As the crops grow, the system deploys special cameras to build vegetative health for drought stress, pest and diseases.

The platform has the capability to tell a farmer what, how, and when to farm.

Who will use data to disrupt the taxi business in a socially beneficial way? He explains “31% of Lagos commuters who will not use Uber because of security even though the price is twice more favourable. Daily earnings of taxi drivers have declined by 42%. Lekki/Ikoyi axis declined by 60%. Isn’t this interesting?

Make your Data mindset a source of competitive advantage

According to him,   Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, suggested there were only two sources of competitive advantage for businesses. He said given his track record at GE – taking its value from $14bn to 410bn when he left in 2004 – he knows a thing or two about competitive advantage:

“Learn more about your customers faster than the competition.”

What do you know about customers that your competitors don’t?

Turn what you learn about customers into action faster than the competition.

This can be done with data. Power of data. Digitization of life, isn’t it?

A few questions were raised:  What regulations? What can they do? How will Nigeria leapfrog to having a data mindset? What steps are being taken to protect data?

Regarding regulation, he said “government is already looking at that”. He said policy “must be attuned to the man on the street”.  To leapfrog, we must be involved in data science, he said. This is where our universities should come in; but they are teaching outdated curriculum, he said. “India got this very well. It contributes 12% of data analytic globally”. On data protection, he said the UK and US use data insurance.

A good chunk of hacking originates from Nigeria. Adekanmbi advised that we can do legal hacking which can fetch the hacker millions in earning a month.

Adekanmbi also believed that Analytics and Business Intelligence tools were critical in driving a data for him was another critical aspect for achieving an effective data driven solution, which will empower decision makers as never before by extracting and presenting meaningful information in real-time, helping people to be more proactive than reactive.

The MTN Executive said the “Global Market Analysis is valued at about $150bl, with India taking 12% of the market share”, stating that Nigeria could derive value from it if it invests significantly in Analytics.

On Artificial Intelligence, Adekanmbi informed stakeholders that it is one phenomenon to watch out in the fourth industrial revolution, as systems are trained to recognize data points.

He leads a non-profit initiative Data Science Nigeria, and is spurred on by a compelling drive to raise a new generation of world-class data scientists and knowledge entrepreneurs who will set up data science-based businesses and attract foreign exchange to Nigeria.

Foluso Phillips, Chairman, Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce commended the guest speaker for his presentation.