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Coronavirus sets a new stride for digital transformation

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The recent National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) data on the contribution of the Information and Communications Technology’s (ICT) sub sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shows that digital transformation has the potential to be a driver of continued growth in all the sectors of the economy. During the coronavirus crisis, digital payments have been keeping economies running and helping people reduce contact with the virus.

The current health crisis coded COVID-19 has transformed the way and manner businesses operate in Nigeria and the world at large. The pandemic brought many challenges and also came with a lesson. Speaking during the Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria’s (RMBN), Economic and Business Conference Webinar Series, tagged: “Digital Transformation: Building change into our DNA,” Chief Executive Officer, RMBN, and Regional Head of West Africa, Michael Larbie, said the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded the need to adapt to new world order, as most businesses have gone digital.

Read also: Mobile devices seen taking over media consumption as COVID-19 disrupts industry

He also highlights that the webinar series is positioned to stimulate businesses to be responsive in the face of the current economic challenges and be able to create customercentric and digitally-savvy solutions in preparation for the POST-COVID 19 era.

Digital transformation is not just about disruption or technology. It is about value, people, optimization and the capability to rapidly adapt when such is needed through intelligent use of technologies and information.

In his comments, head of consulting, Agusto Consulting, Jimi Ogbobine, opined that COVID-19 and the social distancing measures have pushed more customers into online and ecommerce solution, more customers have downloaded Apps from varied services which ranged from banking to food or grocery delivery services. This new trend gives firms a greater opportunity to harness consumer analytics better and improve the predictive techniques of the app as more customers use these online solutions and electrotonic channels to settle other business obligations.

Payment activities through electronic channels in Nigeria were valued at N10.3 trillion in January 2020, according to the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), the January figure represents a 29 per cent increase in transaction value compared to N8.41 trillion recorded in January 2019 but a marginal decline of 4.1 per cent from N10.74 trillion e-payment deals facilitated by banks in December 2019. Experts said payment through all the channels – ACH, NIP, E-billspay, POS, ATM, MMO and WEB to increase to N163.9 trillion in 2020.

Again, amidst the pandemic, the ICT sub sector contributed a higher margin to the GDP when compared to crude oil in the first quarter of 2020. The sector contributed 14.07 per cent while crude oil, the mainstay of the country’s revenue, contributed 9.50 per cent. This, however, is considerably higher than its 13.32 per cent contribution a year earlier in Q1 2019 and 13.12 per cent in the last quarter of 2019. While on the other hand, the oil sector contributed 7.32 per cent in Q4, 2019

Telecommunications and Information Services, as a subsector, had a growth rate of about 9.71 per cent in Q1 2020. However, its growth was less than the 10.26 percentage growth recorded in Q4 2019, and 12.18 per cent recorded in Q1 2019.

“If the figures released recently by NBS that ICT contribution to GDP of 13.8 per cent is anything to go by, then it will be more than double the oil and gas contribution of 8.8 per cent (presently) in two years”, according to Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Minister of Communications, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Contributing to the Economic and Business Conference Webinar Series, the general manager, enterprise marketing, MTN Nigeria, Onyinye IkennaEmeka, stressed the need for the government and private sector to invest more in telecoms infrastructure for digital businesses to be sustained in the long term.

Further, she stressed that a great deal of work and investment has been done to prepare the telecoms sector to support the development of the Nigerian economy, adding that Nigeria has shifted from 2G to 4G and 4G+, and is constantly evolving to ensure customers derived the best value from telecoms infrastructure.

She maintained that networks were collectively advancing their capacity and capability, so businesses could move swiftly into the digital age, and urged telcos to transform themselves, as this is critical if they want to continuously meet customers’ expectations.

By implication, this implies finding ways to become a value-added service provider, noting that telcos need to relook at customers’ journeys, define mobile-first strategies, and move to platform services. She said the customer is at the heart of this, and the key to understanding the customer is by keeping a finger on the pulse of their data.

The founder and chief executive officer, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola, said the pandemic had forced businesses to transform, noting that technology is a massive enabler of transformation, while the human connection is needed to make technology optimal. He said it was expedient to strike a balance to get desired results and deliver optimal satisfaction to customers.

Founder and chief executive officer, Qucoon, Yinka Daramola, maintained that digital needs must become a way of life, as businesses globally are experiencing transformations led by technology.

He emphasized the need for business leaders to embrace the positive impacts brought by the on-going digital transformation, its cost savings, and efficiencies, noting that the new normal would be a constant change and businesses would need to choose their partners based on their ability to support agility and security.

In her remarks, academic director and a professor at the Lagos Business School, Olayinka David-west, said to transform efficiently, businesses should be innovative around customer needs, agile in responding to them, and should always implement digital strategies to ensure that customer data is protected.

“Nigerian businesses will sustain their digital transformation if they lead it from within, focusing on the desired outcomes and aligning with the overall strategy,” she added.

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