Mr. Tim Akano, founder/CEO New Horizons Nigeria, in this interview with CHIMA AKWAJA, looks at the technology space, how and where it will impact the broad-spectrum of the Nigerian economy.
What do you see as the intersection between technology and the future of job? Are we all going to become jobless at the rate at which robot and AI are replacing workers?
Yes and No. A friend of mine put it poetically in an article recently in the newspaper “how technology stole our breakfast and is about to eat our lunch.” But I disagree with his conclusion. Technology did not steal anybody’s breakfast rather technology changed our breakfast menu and gave us a new breakfast menu and technology has equally announced that a new lunch and dinner menu list is on the horizons.
It is by putting issues in the right perspective that we can take full benefits of what is and what is to come. My answer in this sector is relevant to anyone from the ages 10 to 69 and business organisations as well. The latest LinkedIn research on skill and employment shows that there are 50,000 professional skills in the world today. But most of these skills will be obsolete in a matter of three to five years. Most of the traditional skills will decline in value. Banking/Finance, architecture, accountant, etc will decline because of technology.
The 10 hottest skills that will grow in demand in 2019 and beyond are: Creativity, Innovation and Analytical Reasoning; Persuasion, Collaboration, and Adaptability; Cloud Computing; Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Cyber Security; People and Time Management; Mobile Application Development; Sales Leadership, Customer Service, Digital and Social Media Marketing; Animation, Video, Audio, and Game development; Business Analytics and Competitive Strategies; and Data Science & Big Data.
The demand of these 10 skill-sets by the industry will grow geometrically because we have shortages and businesses are developing along these lines exponentially. If you have children or cousin or brothers or sisters and you don’t want them to be hungry in the new tech kingdom- these are the skills that will be in the greatest demand.
Dr Robot will be a better surgeon than human doctors in few years’ time. AI will be a better pilot than human pilot, AI will replace drivers and cars will be electric without engine. AI will do some Accounting, Architectural, Journalism, Military, Teaching and Engineering jobs.
Everything we are doing will converge on mobility- our phone will become part of us in a new form. It will be engrained in our flesh- this will drive the demands for experts in mobility and Internet of Things.
Then when robot produces in the factory- Peter James and John have to sell to Steve and, Florence. A Buhari or an Atiku will always need the services of digital marketing professionals to sell their candidacy to the electorates: so selling skill, customer service, digital and social medial skills will be in hot demand.
What do you say about Fintech in 2019?
Obviously, banking and financial industry are the biggest consumers of technology. Therefore, using past years as a guide, Fintech will continue to dictate the speed of innovation in technology. The top 10 variables for the financial industry in 2019 and beyond are that: Digital-only bank will grow faster than the legacy brick and wall, High street banks.
Secondly, there is bound to be bigger cash injection by banks into digital transformation in order to reduce overhead cost ultimately.
Thirdly, massive deployment of Artificial Intelligence in customer profiling for credit transaction will happen in 2019 in the banking industry. Due to the stringent and thick regulatory requirement and compliance for the financial sector, more banks will make use of AI technologies for compliance purposes.
2019 is the year of surgically implanted Near Field Communication (NFC) devices.
This year, Blockchain and crypto currencies diversification will be massive consequent upon the rise and fall of Bitcoin- we have not seen the end of crypto.
The seventh variable is that Quantum Computing will become mainstream because of Big Data and Internet of Things; while General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and digital marketing for banks will drive the Opt-In data mining sales model as a way to reach customers.
Also, online payment using decentralised apps will grow because of their relative security vis-à-vis the legacy payment model. The last variable is on Cyber security. When Marriott Hotel lost 500 million vital data to cyber thieves towards the end of 2018 that was a passing shot to all the financial institutions that cyber security will become their centre of gravity in 2019 and beyond.
What have you got to say on telecommunications industry in 2019 and beyond?
My top 10 game-changing variables for telecoms is that 2019 is the 5G year. The massive deployment in advanced countries of extra supper fast internet is this year. Towards the end of 2018 a few smart nations tested the 5G technology and the outcome was awesome.
On cybersecurity, 43 per cent of telecoms was attacked in 2018 and it took an average of three months to detect. There will be IoT explosion. We are going to witness connection of devices running into billions or even trillions which will require gargantuan data consumption. Once Africa telcos get to 70 per cent penetration they will need to search for growth elsewhere such as content provision because of saturation.
There will be Over- The- Top (OTT) services fuelled by video streaming and high demand for non-linear media consumption which will grow exponentially in 2019. Also, cross industry alliance between telecoms and broadcasting companies: Telecoms would begin to acquire companies that are producing entertaining content, for example, popular TV shows, and live sports games among others as a new growth path.
Telecoms with a view to differentiating their products and services will begin to use Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) on smartphones to empower digital visualizations on real images and enhances customer experience. Regulations for Telecoms: GDPR, e-privacy regulations among others will drain some cash from the pocket of Telecoms in 2019. Machine Learning and AI will help in automating and bettering many back-office operations and sundry customer experiences including customer predictive maintenance services. Finally, safe and affordable In-flight Connectivity System (IFCS) will be a game-changer in 2019.
What trends do you see merging in the education sector in 2019?
Technology has entered into classrooms and it will revolutionise the way we teach and learn. For me, AI in education will impact speech recognition, problem-solving, and planning. AI will also drives automation of administrative tasks like students’ grading, creation of smart content in the curriculum, and customisation of the teaching process.
Medical students can now watch live simulated surgeries using VR technology. Bringing education video games into classrooms will make learning more fun and engaging while Learning Analytics will enhance better monitoring of student behaviour and absorption level by utilizing effectively the existing data.
The need to make education cheap and accessible will continue to drive the demand for Open Education at the Higher Education level. On the other hand, IoT learning will enhance personalisation, drive better engagement and skill acquisition. Also, because the society is in transition to a technology kingdom the need for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education will increase in 2019.
Everything is going green from electric cars to green classroom. Education is no more going to be on the basis of one-cap-fits all. Game theory will allow instructors to choose the most appropriate method for student leaning in a giving situation. Finally, Brick and Mortal Education will witness slow growth compared with online /Anytime/Live education. Besides, the awareness to downplay paper qualification in favour of skilled-based education will increase.
How does all these add up to and where does it put you?
You will recall that we are the first company in Nigeria to introduce ICT certification- based training into the Nigeria education curriculum 13 years ago. As at today we produce about 50,000 students yearly under our certification programme. Our determination to add value to Nigerians has always been our driving force.
This is why we are the first company in IT training industry in 2018 to launch a Comprehensive Robotics Education in High Schools which includes curriculum on 3D printing technology, AI, IOT, Big Data, Cybersecurity and Graphics design, among others. This will help our children to acquire 2019 ICT skills that will make them to be competitive globally.
I can confidently tell you that the schools we partner in Nigeria receive the best of ICT education like their counterparts in Europe and America. For the rest of us, we definitely cannot beat technology or slow it down- our best option is to join technology and provides the skills it wants. This is the only way for prosperity in the new tech kingdom.