VC4Africa Investor Collins Onuegbu, Executive Vice Chairman of Lagos based ICT company Signal Alliance and a member of the Lagos Angel Network, lists 10 key tech trends – from a Nigerian perspective. Something to add? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
End of this month, July 31st, Lagos will host the first Angel Investor Bootcamp in a series of bootcamps leading up to the ABAN Investor Summit at DEMO Africa. Other bootcamps will be hosted in Nairobi and Cape Town.
Recently we have seen a lot of trends in the local technology space driven by Internet penetration, e-commerce surge, rise of local software companies and local cloud adoption. Some of these trends will continue and more new trends will be driven by new realities in the Nigerian economy and trends driving ICT globally. The trends listed here are not in any order of importance.
The e-commerce boom will accelerate driven by a lot of factors. First is that competition within the space will continue with new entrants. This will lead to better offerings and better discounts. In a year when Naira depreciation will hit people’s pockets, buying things online at discounted prices will be the trend. This will drive more traffic to online stores.
2) Data Centres
There has been an explosion of data centres in Nigeria in recent times. Last year saw the launch of several including Rack Center. MainOne has launched its centre in early 2015. Expect a few more centres to open this year and upgrading of existing data centres especially by the telcos. What will be the effect of the rise of data centres? Local hosting of online applications. Better services from corporate organizations that will have options to have better technology services from the data centres than their internal data centres.
3) The Rise of the Local App
The proliferation of cloud services was the forerunner of the app industry at the global level. Today we consume BBM, Facebook and most services on smartphone and tablets as applications. The foreign apps have dominated the local market. But expect a rise in the use of locally-developed and popular apps. These are driven by social and cultural trends and major activities in the country. For instance, national events like General Elections tap into this trend.
4) Technology Funding
It used to be hard to get funding in IT. While the telecoms industry has always been well-funded, being a matured industry, the local technology sector was barely fundable. The success of a few tech companies like Jobberman, Jumia etc. and activities by the Ministry of Technology has led to increased funding in the sector. A whole new ecosystem of incubators, venture capital and seed funding is evolving to fund startups. I expect that this trend will really start maturing this year and will lead to more funding of startups and the development of a merger and acquisition ecosystem in the IT industry. This evolving ecosystem is sorely needed for the survival of the technology industry.
5) Incubators Mature
2014 saw to the rise of several incubators focusing on developing local startups. In 2015, we start to see successful startups from these incubators. Efforts at diversification of the economy will make the tech startup industry attractive as viable alternative investments. Success stories may lead to a gold rush but I expect a few successful stories from this segment of the technology space.
6) Evolution of Corporate IT
The consumer IT has been the rage in the last few years, e-commerce, apps, tablets and smartphones. Corporate IT seems to be getting little attention. But in the corporate space, expect modernisation of IT infrastructure. Movement to the cloud, rise of corporate apps, adoptions of major consumer technologies like social media to reach customers. Investment in customer relationship solutions to reach customers and deliver better service
7) Local Adoption of Cloud
Cloud has always offered better and cheaper IT. In the consumer space, cloud adoption has been phenomenal, from social media to productivity and finance. Corporate IT has held out because of concerns with data security. But driven by challenges in the economy as the Naira falls, most companies in 2015 have to make a choice between the non-existing concerns for security and the cost savings that cloud adoption promised. I suspect the latter will win and we will see a faster movement of corporate IT to the cloud.
8) Maturity of Mobile Payment
Mobile payment will continue to grow. Driven by penetration of smart mobile devices and better access to quality Internet access. Banks, squeezed for efficiency will also deepen marketing and support for mobile payments to create efficiency and also generate revenue.
Securing online transactions is a major issue globally. The experience with Sony toward the end of the year and several cases of hacking and online theft in 2014 highlight the security issues associated with moving our lives online. I expect focus on security of online activity from translations to data.
10) Rise of Local Hardware Brands
The local hardware industry has not fared well over time. From local PC manufacturers to smartphone makers. But there is a rising trend of local manufactures, encouraged by some activities within the ICT Ministry. Will 2015 be the year a local technology company breaks through the competitive hardware landscape?
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