TECHPLUS 2017: An Intelligent Future – From Connectivity to Digital Immersion

The theme for the 2017 Africa’s Largest Technology event, TechPlus Nigeria could not have come at a better time than now. The evolving developments in the Tech industry over the last few years have pointed to the fact that the world of tech is moving towards Artificial Intelligence, Automation, digital Disruption and internet of things.

This new world of Advanced technologies aims to bridge the gap between normal, regular developers and creative developers. While the thinkers in Silicon Valley have moved and gradually moving to the new world, the expectation is that Africa will not be left behind. This amongst other things are being discussed at the ongoing 2017 TechPlus Lagos Event held at the Landmark Events Centre, Oniru, Victoria Island.

At about 11:30 am on the first day, Thursday, July 6, 2017 when this writer arrived at the venue, it was already a beehive of activities despite the early morning rain that didn’t wane till close of the day. A gathering of young and old enthusiastic people, it was not just any other event, but a serious gathering of serious minded youths, Industry leaders, key players, Tech Exhibitors, Speakers and general attendees.

After the razzmatazz of registration and issuance of event tag, I settled down for the general session which started long before I arrived. The session anchored by a middle-aged man and assisted by Andre Blaze, a famed host of now defunct TV reality Show, Nigeria’s Got talent sponsored a telecommunication outfit, Airtel NG.

The session centered on introduction to technology and there were questions and comment on the development of the tech industry in Nigeria. A question was put forward on when is appropriate to introduce kids to coding. The conclusion from the flurry of answers given was that Kids can learn to code as soon as they know how to read and write. One of the contributors stressed the importance of JavaScript Programming Language and why Nigerian Developers should explore the frameworks and its functionalities. The session ended with address by Taiwo Oyewole, TechPlus’ new general manager. He gave a brief introduction on how Tech has evolved in the last few years and why EVERYONE must embrace and be updated in the new development in tech industry. The session went into close for breakout sessions.’

The breakout session for “Content, Media and Marketing” was educative and inspiring. The session saw two speakers who have achieved a lot in their fields due to the date-to-date quality contents they have been able to churn out to the public.

The first speaker was Mr Jide Martins, the Chief Executive officer and Founder, “The Comic Republic”, a digital comic character franchise that tells Nigerian and African Oriented stories through comic representation and diagrams. Mr Jide gave a brief introduction of himself, what he does and what qualifies him to speak and educate the small gathering about content creation and digital marketing. As any young Nigerian Child born into a semi-privileged Family, he developed an early interest in digital games, cartoons, batman series, Superheroes episodes and Spiderman series

While he was done with that childhood experience, he discovered that those series are not represented and presented in any African ways. With large followership in this part of the word, the SpiderMan does not in any way represent a Nigerian Story. Why not a Nigerian Spiderman?

This spurred him into work and in almost a decade in the industry, Comic Republic have grown from an idea to a big digital comic art firm in Nigeria and Africa. Comic Republic have gained recognition inside and outside Africa with features from Reuters, The Guardian, German DW, CNN and several international Journals. Presently, the Comic Republic is working on documenting a new series for a Germany-based Television Network, DW on an Upcoming Episode tagged “African Roots”.

Mr Jide gave four cardinal points as their Media and Marketing strategy which have worked for the team since her inception. He listed the strategies as Standard, Interest, Hardwork and Targeted Group. The first factor a content developer should consider is Quality and Industry Standard. Any content developer who wishes to be relevant in the industry for year should never compromise quality. Since there are thousands of Contents available, the only distinguishing factor for your is the quality. “You cannot put anything mediocre and expect it to go viral; ensure the quality of your content meets today’s standard”. Since there is competition outside and people rarely have the time to view a mediocre content twice, you must always follow and meet up with the standard. What the standard is today should be the basics for your content creation.

Create interest in people who view your contents. Give them a reason to look at your content again and again. The interest created in them will bring them to view, buy and recommend your contents. A quality content may be determined by many factors but interest is key. If you are telling a story, make the storyline interesting and capture the scenes very well that people tend to look again and again.

Hard work is the key to any surviving business. The price of success is hard work and determination at hand. “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work” says Colin Powell, former US secretary of State. As much as you have quality contents and create user’s interests, without hard work, one will not achieve much. Mr Jide gave an insight into how he continued to push even when there was little or no recognition. While he made his contents free (till now), it took a while before people took notice of them. With Consistency, determination and hard work, Comic Republic has grown to a recognized firm.

In media marketing of contents, there is a need for consistency. Mr Jide gave an example about Facebook Platform. After conducting research, he discovered that it takes 6 months to get 100 random likes on Facebook if you post contents every 24 hours. It takes regular and consistent content distribution on social media platforms to attract new people. Apart from random posting which mostly reach your friends and few interested people. Make use of targeted interest group. Look for those who are interested in your products and reach them first.
Make use of Social Media Content Distribution tools (Paid and free) for seamless distribution across multiple platforms. If necessary, do paid ads for your leading contents on the pages. The advantages are numerous and the reach may never be gotten in organic distribution. Mr Jide explained how Reuters got to know about Reuters through the promotion of a Facebook post and it was a great exploit for Comic Republic which fetched them deals.

The second Speaker, Mr Opeoluwa Ogunbanjo is the Managing Director of the Value Media, an in-transit advertising company. ValueMedia has operational installed LCD screens in about 400 Mass Transit Buses including the BRT Buses with Audio and Visual Display Unites. Presently, Mr Opeoluwa gave the estimated number of viewers monthly as 14m on an average. According to Mr Opeoluwa, ValueMedia started in 2010, just three years into the introduction of BRT Buses in Lagos. The need to break away from the usual conventional Television and ways of Advertising to reach people who are in transit prompted the idea which gave birth ValueMedia, an evolution of Technology in transit television media.
While the world tends to focus more on online advertisement, Mr Opeoluwa believes the “Offline is greater than Online”. Advertising on online in Nigeria is hindered by many factors like high cost of internet subscription, power supply amongst other. Why not make use of the Offline more?.

In the spirit of the “Buy Nigeria, grow the Naira”, ValueMedia embraced promoting contents that are 100% Nigeria. They only work with 100% Nigerian content developers. Since it’s not like conventional Televisions, Contents are 100% promoted. The contents are synchronized in a way that same contents are aired on all VM screens but may not be at the same time everywhere.

How do I check the reach of my content? There is an online monitoring platform where a content developer can login to check the reach of his adverts and get the number of viewers. Going Forward, Mr Opeoluwa gave an insight into what is expected into the future. There will be GPS system that will enable a content developer to track data in real time instead of the 24 hours delay currently being experienced. More technological advancements will be employed in the coming months and local contents producers will be encouraged.
In the question and answer session, Mr Opeoluwa was questioned about the quality of the contents displayed on the screens and if he intends to pay quality contents developers to produce standard contents to be aired. In response, he said it is not in the plan of ValueMedia to pay anyone for contents since no one pays them additional money aside the BRT ticket which goes to agency managing those buses. However, he added that there are partnership agreements with Quality Content developers and promise to improve in that way.

The session went into a close with both speakers explaining how they survived even in the tough times. It was a story of persistency, Hard work and Consistency.
Techplus Day is such a great experience any young and aspiring Tech person must not miss.

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