Although the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the level of digital disruption across different industries, experts say companies embracing these transformations would only increase even as things begin to get back to normal. The reason is that these companies would have come to discover that there is more to benefit from fully digitalising their operations than going back to the old ways of running the business.
The experts spoke during the 6th edition of the NerdsUnite, the flagship tech programme organised by MainOne, a major broadband provider and one of the largest data centre operators in West Africa. Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne, who gave an overview of the digital transformation happening across West Africa said there was good news and also challenges. Inadequate broadband infrastructure across the region which impacts the quality of the internet is a big challenge.
“The good news is despite those challenges we are starting to see the growth in the number of adoption of the tools of technology and the businesses have demonstrated the commitment to continue and they are showing very strong resilience through the pandemic. So digital transformation has become us, it is not something other than us, it is us. It is the platform on which everything will be done. That is where we are and we still have work to do to fully enable ourselves to do it across our country and region,” Opeke said.
The COVID-19 pandemic also revealed the gravity of economic decline in many of the countries within the region with Nigeria the most affected. Hence, companies that would survive the aftermath of the pandemic, would be those that have built resilience by leveraging digital transformation.
Mitchell Elegbe, founder and CEO of Interswitch Limited, said it is important for organisations to clearly identify the traps and triggers on their digital transformation journey. The triggers are the internal and external factors that define what technology to be adopted.
He says digital transformation is about solutions that work for everyone. Also, regulation is critical because the adoption of digital transformation comes with consequences for national sovereignty and security. He says the increased policy directions being issued from the CBN is an indication that the regulator recognises the importance of the fintech market in Nigeria and wants to get actively involved. “I think that is going to continue,” he said.
Olubayo Adekanmbi – Chief Digital Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria, agrees that digital adoption is not a one-off event anymore given that it has helped many companies survive the worst of the pandemic, especially the lockdown that almost crumbled many countries’ economies. “Broadband is becoming more like a utility, just like water,” Adekanmbi said.