Mike Adedowole, Executive Director,Technical Services, Data Sciences Nigeria Limited (DSNL), one of the oldest information technology companies, in Nigeria shares with IT Edge News, Nwakaego Alajemba, Clara Aghasili-Lingo, and Anthony Nwosu, insights into how the company is reworking itself to reflect industry and market dynamics in Nigeria.
Data Sciences Nigeria Limited is one of oldest IT companies; it is the start-up home to many leading lights in the sector today, how are you working at reinventing yourself as the market with industry changes?
We were noted for high-end and large systems. The market and industry changed several years ago and we have adapted with the various changes.
For example, in 2015 and 2016 we looked at four major areas of the market/industry, aside the educational sector that we play dominant roles,
- We considered helping the Federal government of Nigeria to integrate the disparately collected, collated and warehoused biometrics by different agencies at different locations. This we thought will assist assessing biometrics of her citizens at any location, anytime for any purpose because our solution was to obtain the complete identity of each individual with the flexibility to update and make the exercise continuous. This was to make government utilize the package for security, population, boarder control, voters’ registration and social security/identity amongst others
- Our solution considered appropriate Application Programming Interface (API), Compliance with standards of interoperability, Standardization of data format of each existing captured data, True and false acceptance rate level, and various Tests. We planned these on the capabilities of our existing technical staff, New-Hire and systems integrators to combine hardware and software from different vendors based on their versatility in SAP, SAN & VSAN, WAN, Disaster Recovery, Virtualization, Servers, Cloud services, Oracle database and Microsoft SQL, etc.
- We considered auditing systems acquired by MDAs of FGN to ascertain health and functionality and advise on required actions like, update, upgrade, integration to avoid stacking or dumping in stores while still making further requests for more. The check was to include connectivity, MDA’s tech staff capabilities, capacities and functionality of the systems and servers, operational environments, security and virus defense.
- We also looked at the local content initiative of the Federal government to the extent that we reviewed our position of being the first to assemble systems in the country and the possibility of re-opening the facility to produce systems and low range UPS from SDK and CDK with collaboration with OS giants and OEMs.
- The fourth was that we considered the development of Systems’ Remote Monitoring Software that can be deployed for say, CBT centers to enable accreditation of such centers and peeps into them for continuous assessments before, during and after examinations.
What are the key focuses now, the key objectives as an IT company?
As enumerated earlier, we are Hardware and software engineering outfitcapable of providing software and hardware solutions on-demand and generally to fit needs in the industry.
– Our natural and low hanging fruit is the scanning for examination bodies to assess candidates based on responses to items set as examinations and we continue to innovate on this to assist our customers have good RoI (Return on Investment)
– We have a Research and Development Group (RDG) that we considered necessary to think for the company. It is to develop products, solutions and services for the company by looking ahead, eavesdropping and listening to technological advances, “Find needs and feel them”, determine areas of collaboration and competition for DSNL’s positioning in any targeted markets
– We believe in partnership and we are working hard to increase our partnership with OEMs, ISVs and renowned software development houses for more products to tout by our inspired and vibrant sales and marketing team.
– We also believe in the centrality of man in development nexus as we continue to provide incentives and trainings to our staff technically and administratively for technological advances and managerial skills.
What are the challenges that indigenous IT businesses like yours face in Nigeria?
– One of our challenges here is partnership. Partnerships require a lot of resources to get accredited as partners, vendors, retailers, resellers or any name or category or classifications the OEMs and major providers adopt. Some of these are Infrastructures, deposits and others that require a whole lot of money. Some may ask that companies’ staff be accredited through examinations for companies to get the accreditations. These, again, require funds and time.
– Sourcing of funds can be difficult because the banks will table lots of conditions to grant loans. Clients may delay payments for services rendered and this singular act may let bank interests to erode profits.
– Local, State and Federal government taxation can add to worries of IT business owners because of the current revenue generation drives of these governments especially when they rely on estimates as basis to determine taxes.
“The Federal government through NITDA and Ministry of Communication Technology have tremendously opened so much ground for indigenous IT companies to assist their revenue.”
You mentioned human capital development; would you say that the Nigerian universities are producing quality materials the industries can run with?
It is that the employers want to reap from where they did not sow! Training, incentives are required to make new-hires to be relevant and useful. Our problem in this country is not what we are producing from the university, as far as I am concern. All universities provide the necessary modules and curriculum to make graduates fit for the jobs but not without on-the-job- training OJT) to adapt to the new environment and be productive rather, the employers lack the will to invest on these children to earn more. Another is that Churches took over all warehouses all because many companies wound up and not much sprung up. This is to say that there is dearth of jobs. In most cases, we employ just part of what we learnt in universities and please do not buy the thrash that our children are unemployable due to lack of skills. Industries provide the skills, period
Will you say government is increasing its patronage of indigenous IT companies?
The Federal government through NITDA and Ministry of Communication Technology have tremendously opened so much ground for indigenous IT companies to assist their revenue. Look at the Local Content Initiative of the government! This is propelling us and we may soon re-open our facility to assemble locally made systems and UPS to play our part in the arrangement. If we succeed, we shall be a major player in the initiative with the hope that succeeding governments do not cause policy summersault.
“Churches took over all warehouses all because many companies wound up and not much sprung up.”
What will be your advice for young Nigerian entrepreneurs who look to companies like Data Science for inspiration?
The young entrepreneurs should acquire some form of experience. We have a record of giving the young ones the necessary tutelage when they come to Data Science. Even the IT are not left out in the scheme drawn to see them get to certain level of proficiencies before facing the “world” through their engagements with our customers. Young people need to know that training is important in doing your business or in pursuing your career path. You need to get prepared.
Are banks beginning to support IT businesses in Nigeria?
Nigeria Banks remain what they have been! The banks evaluate companies according to their laid down policies on loan. If the companies meet the criteria the banks provide facilities. The one thing I may not say of the banks is that they have extended their community development programs to profit making entities like IT companies. Banks can do more by reducing some of the criteria because some are too tough to meet. Maybe, we should be talking about how the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the regulatory body, can get banks to assist IT companies by making loan terms and the general financial climate of doing business better in Nigeria.
“The CBN can get banks to assist IT companies by making loan terms and the general financial climate of doing business better in Nigeria.”