Lagos — Based on the global outlook on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) trends last year, CEO of New Horizons Nigeria, Tim Akano, in this interview highlighted expectations in 2014 and how Nigeria can play well in all of it to better the lots of the country and the people.
As you have always on a yearly basis predicted trends in ICT industry, what are the expectations in 2014?
Well, first of all, let me tell you that most of the things we predicted came to pass in 2013. Then, in 2012 based on the trends which we observed on the horizons in the ICT industry globally and locally, we came to certain conclusions in specific sectors like MOBILITY, Training, and Security etc. One, that OPEN-SOURCE via Android and Linux will rule the Smartphone and personal computers. Today Android's share of the Smartphone operating system stands at over 75%. We saw that because Apple is a "closed system", and with high price tag vis-à-vis competition, that it would lose market share: that happened until it came out with an 'economy iPhone'.
We saw then that competition was about to throw Blackberry 'under the bus' as a punishment for its sluggishness in innovation. With Blackberry recent mountain of looses of $4.4billion, it is a matter of time, if nothing urgent, radical and concrete is done before the bus will crush the most successful Canadian mobile telephone giant, which used to be the darling of youths and the Military globally.
As we predicted, IT security breaches skyrocketed. As we predicted, the seven IT skills that we submitted would blossom, actually did, and smart guys who took practical steps to acquire those skills really prospered in 2013.
However, in 2014, we are going to divide our submission into 4 parts: One, Seven Hottest skills that will prosper ICT professionals; two, seven biggest trends in ICT that will determine which organization survives, thrives or dies in 2014. Three, seven most dangerous ICT Threats and four; How Nigeria and Nigerians can benefit from all of this. Some of the surveys conducted by IDC, Gartner, IDG, CIO magazine are quite useful as a guide for investors this year to know what is on the horizon.
What are those seven skills?
This is not going to be like any other year in the ICT industry both globally and locally. Most of the ICT skills that will benefit the unemployed , the youths, the old as well as the ICT Professionals who are desirous of promotion are truly new skills or hybrid of old and new are Big Data Administrator (BDA) before 2014, what obtained was Data Administrator (DA). However due to the fact that the request for big data is skyrocketing- growing by as much as 30per cent, there will be issue around big data management. Demand is currently outpaces supply with regards to experts in this area. Most of these data are coming from Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Jelly, LinkedIn and 3rd Parties etc which Marketing requires on hourly basis to study the ever changing consumer behavioral attitude and taste. Currently, there is substantial growth in 'data-optimized cloud platform- leveraging high volume real time data streams according to Gartner. Packages like HADOOP and Big Data Analytics are in hot demand. Data storage has become an issue and how to build redundancy into storage and make the data fit for efficient and effective storage and consumption is a challenge that a BDA will be employed to solve by major international Enterprise. 24% of companies' survey said they will hire BDA professionals in 2014 . Second is business intelligence and analytics because with Big Data comes the biggest job of making sense out of all the mountain of information, volume of global data will expand to 35.2 zettabytes in two years time. 18% of companies' survey by IDC submitted that they are looking for professionals with Business Intelligence skills to employ in 2014. It is seen as the second most difficult skill to get competent hands. This is why they command very fat salary starting with six digits. In 2014 if you are dam, dam good in analyzing, interpreting, and presenting the data in a meaningful way that will help the CEOs to take profitable decision, you are sure to prosper as IT Professional. The joker is to combine Business intelligent skills with Plex Systems plus ERP plus Project Management. You cannot be poor again with this combination- if you are sound at each of them.
Thirdly, develops professionals with cloud mobility skills: These are the gurus who build and maintain cloud architecture. There is a paradigm shift right now from 'infrastructure as a service (Iaas) to platform as a service (Paas). And this is expected to be a data-optimized platform as against generic platform. More data centers will be built in 2014. The cloud spending is expected to grow to $100billion in 2014 (source: IDC). Cloud application will become mission critical. We do not have enough expertise in this field anywhere in the world. Those who want to make good money in 2014 are advised to go for it. The fourth one is Linux Professionals: This is an age of singularity where open source is the king powered by Linux and Android. Open source has now been finally accepted by countries and organization who need inexpensive and stable platform. And this adoption and shift is phenomena. According to Jack Cullen, President of IT Staffing Firm called Modis: "if you are an IT Professional looking for long term career growth there is no better place to be than working with open source. I strongly believe there are huge opportunities in Linux and Android skills in 2014.'
The fifth IT hottest skill in 2014 will be virtualisation experts: The art and science of commissioning, managing, and tearing down intelligent and virtual machines are now one of the fastest growing roles of date centers. Experts in virtualization will be in high demand this year. The sixth is IT Utility Manager (ITUM): Everything in ICT is in a permanent state of flux- changing at the speed of light, getting more fragmented and sophisticated by the day. The CEOs don't have time to keep pace with this dynamic industry. And the resources to employ Consultant for each narrow, new segment are not available. Therefore, the CEOs are looking for the IT Utility Manager (ITUM) who has a holistic perspective of how technology works and communicates among one another. The Manager who understands programming languages and how to connect them on different and competing platforms: desktop, laptop, mobile, cloud, etc. He has skills in information security and Biometrics certifications and he can integrate all this with Social Technologies like facebook, Twitter, Jelly, LinkedIn etc. This year, the role of biometrics in authentication will grow while the value of password will decrease. Organizations will pay any amount of money for professionals who have deep understanding of biometrics authentication- facial, iris, fingers, voice, DNA, palm, pulse, in addition to the above skills. I call such a professional IT Utility Manager. This is a new role- which did not exist in 2013 and lastly, IT security compliance and governance professionals.
How can these affect Nigeria as a country?
It is not true that there are no jobs. The truth is that there are jobs but most Nigerian graduates lack appropriate skills to add value to the global ecosystem. The current university education curricula are mostly outdated and cannot help the graduate in job placement without extra industry-required skills. The focus of the graduates is to acquire certificate or degree not Skills that will help him to be useful in the industry. Therefore for Nigerians who need a job or want to change his or her job should take the 7 skills of fortune we identified above seriously.
In what ways do you think Nigeria can benefit in 2014 latest technology adoption?
Digital Government: Government should use technology by automating a lot of its activities that are currently been done manually. This will bring down the cost of governance substantially. Also things like taxation, business registration should be digitize. Setting up Cyber Security Command Centre (CSCC): As at today Nigeria lives in a house with its doors and windows wide open for foreign hackers to come in and steal its information. There is no standing national cyber army or warrior on the ground that can defend Nigeria interest at the speed of light. The time has come for Nigeria federal government to set up a cyber security command centre. Cyber war is more difficult to win than the conventional war because the enemies are faceless and virtual. They are everywhere without been seen!
Smart city, federal government can make Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt and other sensitive cities in Nigeria smart cities. This will combat terrorism and make investors confidence to remain solid in the commercial axis of Nigeria. Biometric registration of all citizens, government can save a lot of money by doing biometrics registration in the country. Biometrics registration will help government agencies address terrorism, help weed out fraud in the financial system by tracing sources and destinations of illicit monies, sanitise the banking system and help citizens to access bank loans. The biometrics registration should be used for future election. This will solve the problem of election rigging. E-learning to the rescue of 80per cent of the youth: NUC should free the e-learning space to accommodate the 80% of Nigerian youths that are yearly denied university admission due to lack of space in the traditional brick and mortal universities. With e-learning, these youths that will otherwise end up as touts or at best political-dogs or thugs of politicians can have some chance of success in life if they can study at home. The argument that the quality of graduates who study at online universities will be watered down in Virtual universities does not hold water because the market will determine at the end of the day which among the graduates are suitable for employment and lastly virtual alien: If government adopt this strategy and build a framework to make it happen we can get over 1million Nigerian unemployed graduates to work abroad without leaving the shores of Nigeria using the power of technology. This will reduce the graduate unemployment and social friction that leads to terrorisms and suicide bombing.