Sunday, October 25African Business News
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Nigeria sees accelerated cloud uptake as companies push digital transformation

Olajide Osho-Thomas 

Nigerian businesses are becoming increasingly innovative as they implement digital transformation strategies, finding new ways to improve business processes with the use of technology that will ultimately yield better efficiency and cost savings for the business.

The country’s key technology stakeholders are in the financial services sector, which is resulting in a push for broader financial inclusion by government and sector regulators. Currently, about 40% of Nigeria’s adult population are financially excluded. The goal is to address this and instead drive financial inclusion up to 80% by the end of 2020.

Traditional banks, which are facing growing competition from emerging fintechs, are having to embrace digital solutions to improve service levels and reach a broader customer base. Fintechs are inherently lighter, smaller and leverage technology to move quickly to capture as much of the market as possible.

The technology drive in the financial sector is also precipitating a boost for cloud adoption in Nigeria, as fintechs usually have a cloud-first strategy that enable them to be more agile and flexible. Conventional banks are following suit as they need to keep abreast with the technology innovation driven by the new market entrants.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the unexpected pivotal accelerator for cloud adoption, as it forced companies to set up remote working environments swiftly and efficiently. In most cases, businesses did not have time to deploy additional infrastructure to scale up storage and performance capacity, so cloud was the logical choice.

Expansion of coverage

At the same time, the principal inhibitor to cloud adoption – namely latency that resulted from inadequate bandwidth availability – has mostly been removed, as Nigeria has seen a recent largescale expansion of 4G coverage.

Also central to the current digital transformation push, underpinned by gradual cloud adoption among larger enterprises, is process automation, and it is easy to imagine that in the near future, all business processes will be automated.

Aside from cost savings and better efficiencies, customer demand also propels process automation, and this is clearly evident from organisations’ addition of chatbot solutions to their communication channels.

In a bid to enhance the Customer Experience (CX), companies are increasingly adding chatbot functionality to communications channels such as live chats, mobile applications and recently to chat apps like WhatsApp, to provide customer support.

Industries such as finance, retail, telecommunications, and healthcare can harness the power of multichannel communication and even conduct two-way conversations with customers, allowing them to transact with the brand. Enterprises can also keep their finger on the pulse of customer sentiment and preferences through automated processes that require minimal human intervention.

Reaching out effectively

Nigeria currently has about 60 million smartphone users and organisations that want to reach these users and they need to do so on most or all the channels that are available such as WhatsApp, SMS, voice or email, among others.

Companies that want to thrive need to adopt an omnichannel approach, that in turn will lead to improved CX as they can reach customers on their preferred channels. This enhances brand perception and builds confidence, as not only do customers know that they are dealing with an innovative company, but they can also communicate with it when and how they want.

Nigerian businesses need to act now and fast track their digital strategies to become more agile, competitive and customer centric. They need to look in the direction of automated multichannel communication, which – when supported by the capabilities of a fully integrated technology platform – can fully realise its potential as a key business differentiator and reliable growth driver.

 

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