BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Customer experience tops growth agenda for IT leaders – Survey

The majority of information technology (IT) – as much as 93 percent – leaders are prioritising enhancing customer experience as part of the strategy to unlock more opportunities in the new digital economy, according to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey.

The survey found that there are huge opportunities for businesses in Nigeria to successfully expand into new markets and reach new customers.

Earlier this year Equinix, Inc. the world’s digital infrastructure company, expanded into Africa through the US$320m acquisition of MainOne, a West African data centre, and connectivity solutions provider, with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. This is the first time the survey has focused on Africa, Nigeria, and South Africa.

“The acceleration in digital transformation in Nigeria reinforces the need for businesses to have access to single points to interconnect locally. Increased speed of connectivity, increased flexibility of connectivity, and reduced cost of connectivity were identified by IT decision-makers in Nigeria as the most beneficial aspects of interconnection. MainOne provides a rich interconnection ecosystem that allows customers to connect to each other multiple telecoms networks, and cloud, payment, and content providers in a single location,’ said Funke Opeke, Managing Director, MainOne, An Equinix Company.

54 percent of the 100 leaders who responded to the survey said they are planning to expand their business in their primary market within the next 12 months. 34 percent will expand into a new region while 33 percent into a new country.

There are barriers to growth the companies would face in the supply chain sector, cyber security, staff retention, and recruitment.

For the supply chain sector, 55 percent of the leaders said their businesses were plagued by global supply chain issues and shortages, while 50 percent specified the global microchip shortage as a threat to their business.

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There are also challenged around cybersecurity in Nigeria. The leaders said expansion plans need to be supported by resilient digital models, particularly at a time of increasing volatility and emerging global threats. 85 percent of respondents noted that improving cybersecurity is a key priority in their digital-first strategies. To this end, 88 percent are willing to comply with local market data regulations and 85 percent see a need to future-proof their businesses. Security breaches and data leaks are seen by 73 percent and 68 percent as the most dangerous threats.

Despite having one of the youngest populations and workforces in the world, 58% of IT decision-makers in Nigeria view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business. The survey showed that among the most common concerns for businesses in Nigeria are candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs (56%), pay and compensation (49%), changing expectations around ways of working (41%), and the retention of current talent (38%).

Additionally, In Nigeria, the most in-demand tech employees are those with skills in areas such as AI/machine learning, data analysis, cloud computing specialists, data protection, security software development, IT technicians, and security analysis

Tools To Grow Businesses

To help grow their businesses, 77 percent of IT leaders in Nigeria said they plan to move more business functions to the cloud including business-critical applications and security functions.

Hybrid cloud models were the preferred approach for 36% of respondents in Nigeria, although 18 percent still rely on a single cloud provider, and 2 percent do not use the cloud at all.

40 percent in Nigeria said they plan to facilitate global expansion plans by deploying virtually via the cloud, with over a quarter (26%) – 21 percent among IT decision-makers in Nigeria – doing so using a bare metal solution.

Meanwhile, 47 percent globally (46 percent in Nigeria) said they expect increased spending on carrier-neutral colocation solutions to facilitate the planned rise in digital deployments, while even more (59 percent at the global level, 70 percent in Nigeria) said they intend to increase investment in interconnection services as they plan to progress digital transformation and build resilience.

COVID accelerates digital evolution

The pandemic also continues to have a significant impact on businesses’ digital strategies. More than half of IT leaders in Nigeria (64%) say they are accelerating their company’s digital evolution because of the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, over half (64%) confirm their IT budgets have increased as a direct outcome of its legacy—an insight into the now broadly acknowledged necessity for robust digital infrastructure to pivot to evolving business needs in an instant. Furthermore, almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) believe the technology changes and investments implemented during the pandemic are here to stay.