As 2010 is just around the corner with great opportunities embedded in renewed challenges, financial and business experts all over the world predict a slow recovery for businesses from recession, which means the way business will be done this time will have to change for effective and quick recovery from the economic meltdown
For Nigeria, I think the story will be different with the meltdown still showing up in different areas of the economy especially the compulsory reform going on in the financial sector at time. We are just beginning to see the effect of recession in Nigeria. This has come with lost of jobs, businesses closing shops, and general hardship on the people.
At this point I am moved to recite the song of the popular PSQUARE group, I see danger! danger!! wahala dey…. Frankly speaking I see only businesses and individuals that will be creative and e-nnovative surviving 2010,creativity here could mean thinking out of the box, finding new ways of doing business at a cost effective way and achieving results with that. It certainly will not be business as usual in 2010. Relevant information will be a vital tool for success ushering in a good base for a knowledge-driven economy.
The Internet is one pool that provides information at the fingertips of any entrepreneur or CEO. It is only those who have the needed knowledge will prospect the opportunities the times provide because even as businesses try to recover or die, great businesses spring up daily world over.
It has been proved that successful businesses that have stood the test of time even with the economic recession are those that have always followed the trend and have equipped themselves with information and exit strategies.
Online businesses didn’t really feel the impact of recession; companies like Google increased its profitability. According to Interbrand and BusinessWeek 2009 research (September 28, 2009 report), Google rose to become the 7th global brand in the world with 25% growth, which is the best business with positive change.
Amazon, another online brand and the leading online retailer of books had 22% positive growth in 2009, while Coke, the leading global brand grew by 3%.This goes to show how profitable and cost effective doing business online is even with the recession.
The social network, Facebook as at December 2009 has 350 million users and has also started making profits. I could go on and on to mention successful online businesses. Not forgetting Twitter another social network waxing strong in terms of growth and profitability.
In all of these, one question that keeps coming to me even as I write articles about online business is the position of Nigeria in all these developments around the Internet world. Nigeria will be affected in one way or the other.
How can we leverage the Internet to build our businesses and even build online brands that will compete with the brands I mentioned earlier?
It can be done and I see it coming to past if and only if you articulate this piece and decide to take your business online by following the trends, financing Internet based businesses, Ideas and positive initiatives. In addition to that, always read our techblog at www.techtrendsng.com to keep abreast of with latest developments.
Having said that, let’s look at the opportunities provided by the Internet for Nigerians to leverage from and build successful businesses come 2010. These opportunities follow a particular pattern called the web or Internet trends.
A web or Internet trend is simply the various ways the internet is used as a business solution. It is the pattern of doing business on the web at any given period. Web trend can also be regarded as the current era of the web, what is in vogue online. This is determined by what the Internet users want and how they want it.
More importantly, it shows how the web technology is tailored to suit what the demands are. Right now web users are yawning for high personalization online. They need particular and specialized services as the day goes on.It is the social network era, virtualization and cloud age.
If you can determine what millions of people using the web want, and you give it to them the way they want it at a good price regularly, you will be successful online. This is the secret of online wealth creation.
With these web trends you can build a new business to serve the need or adapt your already existing business to suit the trend.
The Current Era of the Web and its Business Potentials
-Increased Internet Access.
The one most important factor that will drive this whole change I like to call the Internet revolution is increased and affordable Internet access in Nigeria. Dr Ernest Ndukwe, the executive vice chairman NCC said “access to internet means being connected to the Internet at the right speed and the right place and linked to the right content at the right time and place”. With the unprecedented growth in the telecoms industry, there is no doubt that the telecom industry has the capacity to drive the Internet revolution in Nigeria.
Great hope and optimism is imminent with the launch of various Internet packages especially the 3G portable modem by service providers, Internet access which will drive the desired online business, has increased within the last few months and this will continue to increase even into the rural areas with the licensing of more than 400 ISPs. Connection to Internet exchange point of Nigeria will reduce cost of data transport, improve data security and encourage local content development among other benefits.
Government projects like the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI), Wire Nigeria Project access will increase .The private sectors will also be part of the growth with projects like the Glo-1and Mainone fiber optic cables when fully deployed will further make Internet access affordable to Nigerians. We also expect that with increased Internet access more people will own computer systems and Internet-ready mobile devices.
With increased internet connection, there will be great businesses for Internet service providers, Computer sales will soar, and mobile phone market and related services will also grow.
Have you ever thought of what people will be doing when they eventually get online with increased access? There will be great opportunities in Internet marketing services like email, search engine optimization, web design, hosting and domain name business, online advertisement.
Online Ad spending will account for 13.8% of worldwide advertising in 2010 and worth $63.1bn.With this traditional media will continually lose advertising share (The Economist: The World in 2010).
-Growth of Web based Applications
The future of the Internet will see the success of web based applications. A web based application is a program that resides entirely on the Internet and can be accessed via a web browser. These applications are quickly becoming the preferred platform for business information systems and critical applications. They will become very popular in wide range of uses because they can be updated and maintained without distributing and installing software on every computer before they are used. They are therefore cross-platform compatible. Common web apps include webmail, blog,wiki,google doc.
Some of the benefits of web- based applications are:
-They can be accessed anywhere in the world since they are basically on the internet.
-They usually have user friendly interfaces that are easy to use.
-These applications are usually free since they are placed in open source platforms where users can easily access them. This is a cost –effective solutions for businesses.
-They run on any type of computer with any type of operating system, all one needs is a compatible web browser.
-The security in using these applications is guaranteed with the introduction of SSL certificates which ensures that data sent via the Internet is encrypted from point to point.
Web based applications will encourage the use of netbooks which are computers with single core processors and web browsers. With the netbooks and the web based applications you don’t need to install say a photoshop on your system, all you need do is get online through the browser and go to the web application called fotoflexer.com and tweek your photos.
You don’t need to install a word processor, just use google doc and type and save your documents online. You want to chat? no need to worry yourself installing chat messenger that takes hours, use the web app at meebo.com,listen to your online radio from lastfm.com,do your video recording from a webcam to Youtube.
Worried about the size of your disc space? Just go to amazon.com for example and save your encrypted data safely online. These are some of the applications that are web based.They will make netbooks affordable and also reduce the cost of sharing information online for businesses.The demand for electronic books(e-books)and e-readers will increase even for our universities with virtual libraries.
IT training centres in Nigeria should also leverage on the increased demand for web application to offer training in web application development.e-commerce will thrive with web based e-payment platforms.
-Web 2.0 in Nigeria
These web applications make up the Web 2.0 era. Web 2.0 is a term used to describe the trend in the use of the Internet these days which enhances creativity and information sharing for business and personal purposes.
According to Tim O’Reilly (an Internet technology expert):”Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”
Web 2.0 is not a technical update in internet technology rather it is the change that has occurred in the way businesses are fashioned on the Internet to suit the end-user and solve problems better.
Some of the characteristics of this era, include; rich user interface and experience, High level of user participation, dynamic contents, scalability (ability to grow within a short period), openness, freedom, collective intelligence.
The features of this trend are social networking for business and relationship, this brought about the success of social networking websites like Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and others.
This is the era of search engine growth like the Google, Yahoo!, Live search and other search engines. It is an era of online media examples are the Youtube (a video website) Flickr –a picture sharing web community. This is also the time for great e-commerce breakthroughs like the Amazon.com, eBay,
As the present trend is the determinate of what type of business thrives online, if you build your business around these features of web 2.0 you will make a fortune online.
Going by what the times are with 70,337,657 of telephone subscribers in Nigeria as at September 2009(Source:NCC); the Internet will mainly be accessed through mobile devices e.g. (the iphone, blackberry,Nokia etc.)
Rich internet applications will be incorporated into mobile devices. This is already a big business in parts of Asia, Europe and the US. The internet will be accesses via mobile devices providing personalities services like online shopping, social networking,finding directions,search engine usuage,creating blogs.corporate communication,reading news,music,videos,sports.
This is going to bring collaboration between mobile operators and Internet companies.I see the winning team incorporating local contents. This will result in great mobile devices more powerful than what we have already.
Businesses like mobile advertisement, SMS and other mobile related businesses will thrive. One area that Nigerians will experience the business side on mobile will be Mobile payment. Mobile payment solutions will be on the increase soon in Nigeria, with some African countries like Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and others already enjoying such services provided for the unbanked population in an emerging market like ours.
Online Video/Internet TV
This is a trend that has already exploded on the web in some developed nations. This will bring about the advent of Internet TV stations, terrestrial TV stations will have to adapt then.
International Web Market
The use of Internet in Africa, India, and China will improve tremendously in no distance time because statistics have shown that the web 2.0 websites are mainly used by people from these nations. As a result of this, Nigeria will become an international web market giving netpreneurs and businesses great opportunities.
Websites as Web Services
Websites that wants to make money will have to transform into offering web services beyond online.
There is no better way to conclude the article rather than advice that everybody should take their business online no matter what your business is.All of these opportunities will not come without its attendant challenges, and one major challenge is the issue of cyber crime.Learn how to avoid them.Major targets will be through phising, spamming targeting ATM users and online transaction and banking services. Facebook among other major websites will also be a channel for identity theft and other cyber crimes. This calls for carefulness and the good news is that identified efforts to curb the menance will be renewed with legislation and advocacy.
The Internet is so dynamic that what works today might be old-fashioned the next second. There is a place for you on the Internet. Internet based services and businesses will flourish and only those who will make use of this information will benefit from it .If we understand the positive ways to create wealth online, cyber crime which is a big challenge will reduce. For your questions, do contact me and always read our techblog at www.techtrendsng.com.