Business leaders, C-Level executives, IT managers, tech influencers and thought leaders converged Virtually on Thursday, June 17, 2021 during the 6th edition of #NerdsUnite2021, discussing “Digital disruption for sustainability and growth”.
Presentations and the panel sessions at #NerdsUnite2021 updated stakeholders in the ICT sector on trends that are enabling companies thrive in spite of the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Setting the ball rolling, Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne; the leading provider of Wholesale connectivity and data center services in West Africa, said that the theme for this year’s event was directly tied to the realities businesses face today, across the globe.
Opeke believes that businesses in Africa must not shy away from digital transformation if they want to compete globally.
She reiterated that as COVID-19 has transformed lives over the past year and “we have all buckled down to reduce contagion, we have witnessed an unparalleled acceleration of the digital age, need we say ‘Digital Disruption’”.
The MainOne boss said that digital disruption is the change that occurs when digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.
Recalling how they were able to squeeze in the physical #NerdsUnite event in February last year before the index COVID-19 case was discovered in Nigeria later that month; Opeke said, “Little did we imagine that the unfolding events would turn the whole world upside down, in what appeared at the time, to be seemingly ‘less scary than Ebola’”.
“Now, after 15 months of tracking infections and deaths, lockdowns, working from home, social distancing, second waves, vaccines, and with our first ever virtual Nerds Unite conference, we know better.
“As COVID-19 has transformed our lives over the past year and we have all buckled down to reduce contagion, we have witnessed an unparalleled acceleration of the digital age, need we say ‘Digital Disruption’.
“This disruption has resulted in an acceleration of value creation by companies operating in the Digital world such that Zoom is a proper noun as in the name, a common noun as in an event and also a verb as a type of activity.
“Amazon is no longer just America’s leading retailer, but leading retailer to the modern world. Digitally enabled companies have simply outperformed in all categories through the Pandemic and the ability to leverage digital technologies has made the difference for the survival of certain sectors and events e.g. the 2021 Tokyo Olympic games will be held in a few weeks with no physical international spectators”, she said.
Opeke said that business insights show that digitization is real and companies that have embraced this new digital reality as a means of doing business are simply doing better.
“Digital solutions are enabling such disruptors gain improved operational efficiencies and maintain their competitive edge as they connect with customers and grow market share online.
“Companies in traditional industries are also finding that process automation, remote testing, access to real time data, and decision support among many digital techniques are proving critical to their ability to stay afloat in dynamically changing markets. We need to acknowledge however that our region lagged behind in our ability to respond to the crisis even though luckily we have been spared the worst of the Pandemic with some of the lowest infection rates and deaths globally.
“Nonetheless, the impact on lives and livelihoods has been significant. It has become obvious that more than ever that we need to close the gap with the rest of the world in digital transformation in order to stay competitive in the production of goods and services to secure our livelihoods and wellbeing.
Panellists at #NerdsUnite2021: Mr. Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group Managing Director, Interswitch Limited; Dr. Olubayo Adekanmbi, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria and Mr. Moses Baiden Junior, Chief Executive Officer, Margins Group, Ghana highlighted experiences that have helped their business grow and even thrive through the Pandemic.
Watch the session on YouTube:
We shall hear from the founder of a unicorn in the payment space in Nigeria, consider the disruption to supply chains and logistics by start-ups, examine the role of Digital in traditional industries including agriculture, healthcare and education, and l how data sciences are propelling African companies to their next level of growth.
The panellists unanimously agreed that Post pandemic realities present to the region the challenge to embrace global best practices in digitization and catch up with their counterparts in other Continent, adding that digital skills should be prioritised.
“We need to apply digital technology and techniques to our traditional industries and reinvent our service-based industries online in order to thrive”, Opeke added.
The #NerdsUnite2021 event provided participants with relevant insights and thoughtprovoking ideas to accelerate the digital transformation of their businesses consistent with the aftermath of the COVID 19 pandemic.