The Managing Director of Oryx Computer Systems (W/A) Limited, Mr Omotayo Adegbola says corporate governance and business continuity can be enhanced by deployment of technology. Businesses can only have a future if they invest in cloud computing. Nigeria’s future is hinged on capacity building and right vision on how ICT can enhance national economy. He was engaged in Lagos by Anthony Nwosu, IT Edge News.
Tell us about Oryx Computer Systems (W/A) Limited
Oryx Computer Systems (W/A) Limited started as a joint venture in the year 2004 with a local software company called Soft Solution Nigeria Limited and Oryx UK. We started with the sale and implementation of an accounting solution- SSL accounts and later brought SAP Business One to Africa. The first implementation was at GMT Nigeria Limited. Oryx Computer Systems (W/A) Limited is a capable and dedicated business solution consultancy with the correct solution-based approach in meeting and exceeding our client’s expectations. Our experienced and focussed team are well placed and equipped and are highly experienced and qualified to carry out their functions with diligence and skill. It is our vision that Oryx may be of service to all prospective clients in the private, professional and public sector.
Tell us more about how you have evolved from the partnership?
We are an offshoot of a local software development business in partnership with a firm in UK. We started this firm around 2004-2005. We started with writing software for accounting purposes. We built and still building accounting packages. But we found out that to compete favourable we had to partner with an international organization that were building software but it is not all about buying or bringing in foreign software, we have to adopt those software packages for the local environment. We found ourselves evolving from building and vending local and foreign software to IT related business consultancy. We are more of process improvement consultants – we go into organizations, we help these organizations to (re) structure and help them manage their stock keeping. We are basically focused to the SMEs space and medium scale firms. Experience has shown that most businesses in Nigeria are yet to understand the business process management. We have grown from selling to our customers called GMT where we sold our first SAP1 business toover hundred customers today. Our solution is in every industry from public sector to telecoms, manufacturing and even quick services restaurants have our solutions today. These organizations use our solutions to run their business. We have also diversified to document management, big data solutions, predictive analysis and predictive business intelligence.
How well are Nigerians accepting these solutions?
We have met people that will say that they have been running their firms on paper but we let them understand that businesses are all about control. With our solution a CEO can manage and control his business from anywhere in the world. These are things people should know. Business control doesn’t need physical presence. It looks that most of our customers then are foreign owned but Nigerians are appreciating the fact that you have to change your business processes. It is about getting the CEO to go beyond the now. We have to start planning for the future and that is where we come in. However, you will never see an Indian, European or Lebanese set up a business without having our service, they realise control is one major thing in business. It is not by who you know anymore but providing quality services has been our benchmark. We are trying to push this knowledge and I feel that we are making the impact. With our solution you can get it right and also understand what and how much it took to produce a good or render a service. That is why we are into business process consultants. We have combination of people with programming experience and accountants as our staff.
How can SMEs key into cloud computing?
As a country we are moving into the cloud computing paradigm. Most of the stuffs we do on our phone are basically cloud based solutions even emails. We have always been in the cloud from the days of email to sms. If somebody asked me how safe the cloud is, I personally ask him if he has sent either information via emails or Whatsapp. These are cloud services. The financial or company information is just one aspect. In terms of data reach emails can be worse than data, so I feel that if you are comfortable enough to send email, I don’t see why you shouldn’t key into cloud. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be security conscious but no security is 100% proof but my answer is that it is very safe. It is the same principle that guides the server in your office is also the same safety. In fact, cloud is safer in the sense that with your server you have a public IP but in cloud it is dedicated but that doesn’t mean it isn’t susceptible. What we offer to our client is that we ensure that we have competent hands that will manage these cloud solutions. The future is in the cloud and cloud solution is at its infancy. We have solutions that we lease out the platforms. There are many advantages to this. You don’t want to have a shop in Aba for instance and the head office is in Lagos yet you don’t know the stocks in Aba. These solutions take care of that and this is what many businesses are thinking about. This is business continuity and the major thing here is outsourcing it to cloud.
Do we have an organization of cloudpersonnel that take care of this in Nigeria?
The IT industry has never gone through any stiff guidelines in anything in Nigeria. Which is understandable, innovation doesn’t thrive under rules. The issue is that we get referral from people that we have sold top notch solutions to. This has made us firm of choice. As you can see the society has a way to checkmate us (ICT firms) indirectly. One thing you should know is that quality IT services isn’t a cheap thing. Even if you have trained IT personnel, within a few months he will leave if you do not pay him well.
With regards to human capacity, how do you source for competent hands?
In terms of human capacity, we take in the interns and we groom them and that is how we have been. We don’t go picking or looking for geeks. We train our staff here. We make sure that they have the core IT skills. For instance, if we employ an accountant we train him on core IT skills and if we employ a computer graduate we teach him on accounting skills.
What are few challenges you face?
One of the biggest challenges is the Forex. The rising exchange rates and the difficulty in getting foreign exchange is jeopardizing our business. We have signed agreement with Axiom and also we are trying to sign with Amazon. This will make it a bit easy and cost effective for our clients. I know that we will get there. Another issue issupport. If most of my clients are in the cloud it will bring down the OPEX on support services but most of our customers are migrating. We have about 15 –20% of our clients in cloud but most of them are migrating.
Do you write any software locally?
I will answer that question with a Yes and No answer. If i buy financial management software from a foreign firm, what we do is that we build solutions on top of this foreign software. This software is for West African region. We have deployed this in Ghana. Financial management software such as SAGE, SAP and Oracle solutions are basically the same. It is not cost effective to write financial software in Nigeria. Wecannot compete unless there is government fiat that will compel individuals and companies to buy made in Nigeria software. There are tons of open source solutions that can solve financial management. What we do is tailor these solutions to local needs; we tweak it here and there and make it adaptable in Nigeria. This is what we do for our customers. This is basically what we use the programmers for.
How can we move to an IT driven and exporting country?
We have to look at STEM and change our educational systems. We must have leaders that look beyond what we need now to leaders that will ask where Nigerian will be in 10 years’ time. If we can’t project into the future and say Nigeria should be a technology hub in ten years from now. Even if we invest in STEM courses without having a vision, it is pointless. Well, it is understandable that we are trying to survive as a country but we have to move beyond survival to futuristic thinking. That is the best way to move this country and region. If we think deeply about this, we must come to a level where the critical mass will think how to make the lives of the citizens better. This also translates to technology business. We have human capacity but what matters is developing the capacity and having delayed gratification. We must stop thinking with our belly. This is fundamental to our lives. In the 1990s, we were developing software locally but in 2000s there was globalization and we signed WTO treaty then you will appreciate that we lost it. Now there is a new economy coming in, the new economy is that it makes more sense to build locally than to buy abroad. This isanother opportunity to develop in technology space. Information is readily available today all we have to do is build capacity in this area. We can start investing in right infrastructure and people. Today, you don’t need a four year degree to be a world class tech person, you can do a six month course and these courses are found in Google. If we turn our attention from giving people 5,000 Naira to building capacity, this will be a leap for us.
“It is not cost effective to write financial software in Nigeria, We cannot compete unless there is government fiat that will compel individuals and companies to buy made in Nigeria software.”
“The IT industry has never gone through any stiff guidelines in anything in Nigeria. Which is understandable, innovation doesn’t thrive under rules.”
“We can start investing in right infrastructure and people. Today, you don’t need a four year degree to be a world class tech person, you can do a six month course and these courses are found in Google. If we turn our attention from giving people 5,000 Naira to building capacity, this will be a leap for us.”