in Enterpreneurship, Nigeria, Technology

Looking at 2016

1. Opportunity to think more (Desirable Difficulty)

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “David & Goliath” talks about the concept of desirable difficulties. The conclusion was that we tend to think and excel more when faced with more difficult challenges. In the research Malcolm referenced, students that were given Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) performed better when the tests were made more difficult just by how it was presented. Sample tests in the book include:

A bat and a ball costs $1.10 in total, The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball costs.

If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 100 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

It was observed that students scored 1.9/3 in these types of tests. However, making the test questions harder to read on paper, e.g reduce the font size, change text colour to grey, presenting it in italics etc…results in students scoring as much as 2.45/3. In other words, making it more difficult to read made them think more about the problem rather than solving them on impulse which increased the chances of error.

Hopefully with the impending difficulties that might face the Nigerian economy in 2016, Nigerians will think more, get creative on how to live or run businesses with limited resources.

2. Services business will grow (as against product-only business)

You’ve probably heard before about the “Lack of maintenance culture”.

Because we have had so much money in the past, product businesses prospered more than service business. (Sorry no data to support this, just my gut). We typically have a culture of throwing money at every problem in this part of the world. Your infrastructure isn’t delivery value? time to replace it with another one. In the private sector possibly because of lack of skilled people, in government circles, this results in huge contracts to purchase another rather than fix/service existing ones.

Hopefully in 2016, with limited cash flowing around, falling oil prices, maybe our attitude will begin to change from throwing money at every problem to thinking through them. I see opportunities for cost cutting that’d force people to service/fix rather than purchase new at all times. And this is where local service companies can come in. Just think of that services that can benefit from a smarter engineer rather than a shiny new tool. This is an over simplification of the problem, but you can relate it across services.

3. More opportunities for local software companies to enter the door (at least)

Foreign software Licenses are one of the major things medium to large businesses spend IT money on. From Operating Systems to Databases and to CRMs. Off course this isn’t a bad thing especially since these are well known products used all over the world. And who wants to use another OS outside of the entrenched ones to run production systems anyway.

However, I am of the opinion that there are opportunities for local software alternatives in the area of business tools and applications, workflow, business process, automation etc to a lot of foreign ones. 2016 is another opportunity to try again to push these local alternatives to enterprise customers since some could do as much and are actually better and cheaper.

4. Local training (As against travelling out) for all kind of stuff will boom

There is a lot of Foreign Exchange that go into IT training budgets. We travel to all sorts of countries to get trained on technology from India, US, UK, Canada and UAE to name a few. I see some of these trips reducing because you know “cutting cost”. This is an opportunity for local training centres to up their game in 2016 and beyond. Flying in a trainer? that’ll work too.

The training terrain is much more difficult now though, with all the online courses one could take, an offline instructor had better be very good.

5. Payments. I see people like Verve making gains..

I’m sure MasterCard and Visa are holding strategy meetings on how they can work around the restrictions on Naira denominated cards use abroad. Well as I once said about doing business in Nigeria, the policies and rules can change any time.

This would bring up opportunities for local players. The Verves of this country. I’m sure they’d figure this out, but there are a lot opportunities in Nigerian Payments scene in 2016. B2B, P2P…

6. The ‘Replicate yourself’ challenge

Ok, so this is something I am passionate about and will hopefully do in 2016. We’ve been talking a lot about building skilled manpower in software development. Apart from Andela that has a startup around this problem, I haven’t seen lots of other companies or people actually take action or do stuff. We still need more developers from this part of the world and we need them young and hungry.

So I want to challenge any good software developer worth her/his onions in Nigeria to dare to replicate themselves into 100 teenagers in 1 year, in 2016. Thats a big one.

Off course for a good developer that has spent years mastering her craft, its a difficult one, but then its starts from allowing these teens to watch you do stuff, give them books that have helped you, share concepts with them, encourage and mentor them. In a year, they might not be a perfect replica of you, but you get the idea.

Tweet at me (@edwardpopoola) if you are a teenager or you know one that wants to intern/learn and is interested in programming/software development (Victoria Island Axis, Free office space, free Internet, maybe a free pocket money .You can never tell)

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