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Redefining the frontiers of Commerce through Digital Technology

The modern era has presented many reasons for businesses to evolve. Over the last century, companies have used the transformation of business models to reduce costs, improve business efficiency, apply outsourcing, differentiate their products or services, and re-organize their operations. But more recently, business leaders are witnesses to how the pace of digitalization in the last decade is making some business models unviable.

Buying and selling of goods and services using digital channels such as the internet and mobile networks have redefined the rules of engagement for commerce. Indeed, digital technology has recalibrated the ability of corporations to set the tone for others while grabbing market share. The success of US tech giant Amazon in disrupting the retail sector is a glaring example of how a new player can use technology to set the tone for others while clawing substantial market share from retailers that had done the same business for decades.

There are possibly hundreds of other examples around the world of companies using artificial intelligence, cloud computing, deep learning, the Internet of Things and machine learning to disrupt business sectors. In less than 10 years, the US firm Coursera is soaring as it redefines higher education and online learning. The 6- year-old healthtech Tempus has grown into a multi-billion-dollar corporation that collects, structures and analyzes the clinical data found in electronic medical records to provide more accurate information to doctors and better options for patients. Better.com is another company that has emerged in the last few years. It has funded billions of dollars in digital mortgages. Grab, the Asian super App that delivers an array of digital services including transportation, food delivery, hotel bookings, online banking, mobile payments, and insurance services, demonstrates how a single platform can disrupt multiple industries.

This trend of disruption is also manifest in Nigeria. Beyond digital payment and financial technology companies, entrepreneurial entertainers are using platforms like YouTube to push out content to a tech-savvy audience, moving eyeballs away from traditional electronic media. Alternative news platforms are also cannibalizing the market share of traditional print media. Agro businesses are using technology to drive crowdfunding. Every business practice runs to risk of being disrupted by the application of new technology to address old problems. To avoid being left behind in the rapidly growing digital economy, companies must invest in the technology, data processing capacity as well as in the people that will lead the change. Corporations should recognize essential elements of successful digital transformation.

Businesses that thrive on the back of digital transformation are adaptable to changing business conditions. Firms that seek to enjoy similar success must be ready to reinvent their operations. To do this successfully, profitability cannot be the only driver of strategic decision making. Executives must evaluate how quickly they can innovate with technology.

Winning organisations must also be bold. Maintaining the status quo amid industry and regulatory changes could push a business quickly into irrelevance and even extinction. To thrive, businesses should be prepared to make significant investments that completely redefine how they go about their trade. This could include a substantial capital outlay, but it pays to make the investment to better control your future.

Another important factor in the future success of businesses relates to data. Attention should be given to generating and using data to improve efficiency, identify challenges and make more informed decisions. Data allows organizations to learn faster, and this knowledge sets them apart from the competition.

Lastly, organisations must walk the talk about a commitment to the customer. Businesses must be able to adapt quickly to shifts in customer behavior and preferences. The desire for physical distancing during the pandemic is a strong example of how customer conduct can change permanently. Digital tools allow businesses to adapt to these changes more seamlessly.

Commerce is being redefined by technology at an incredible pace. At Africa Prudential, we have observed how the trend is permeating Nigeria’s economy. We are working with players in the hospitality industry to adapt to the demands of their customers. Our clients in the oil and gas industry are considering bold moves to revolutionize their operations and customer engagement. Businesses face an uncertain future, but we are excited to work with those that appreciate the urgency to transform or risk their demise.

Obong Idiong is the CEO of Africa Prudential Plc, an NGX listed business solutions and investor services company with a particular focus on Nigeria’s capital market.

 

Africa Prudential is disrupting the technology space with its business solution services.

Africa Prudential, Nigeria’s Leading Registrar, Digital Technology and Investor Services Firm, Develops Cloud-Based Solution for Africa’s Hospitality Industry.

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