I was honoured to attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting at Davos, Switzerland in Jan 2018. My passion for technology is obvious to my colleagues, friends and family. To my absolute delight, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss this with some of the foremost experts in the field of technology at the WEF. One of the most talked about themes was Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics and its eventual impact on our world – digital, physical and biological. It only got me excited about our future and the possibilities for Nigeria.
However, these are the 6 key learnings I derived from attending the conference:
1) Technology is not a Big Bang moment: Like every drop fills an ocean, so is the same with technology. During a discussion with a renowned research scientist and prominent player in the commercial development of self driving vehicles, I learnt that although it will take a good many years for self driving cars to actually arrive in the market, many allied and supporting technology elements are already being used. This reinstated that technology, like all other industries is an incremental game. Everything needs time to ferment.
2) Technology can boost Transparency: While in talks with a social entrepreneur about the role of technology in the financial space, a very interesting and relevant point drew my attention. Transparency. And how technology can actually promote transparency by focussing on accurate date collection and data mining. Definitely an asset, especially in the Nigerian finance and banking sector.
3) Technology enables sharing: Contrary to the understanding that technology promotes isolation is the belief that technology enables sharing as well. This eye opener came from an African American film-maker who talked about how in our younger days one video recorder would be shared by the entire village. So everyone used it, owned it and benefitted from it. I could somehow draw parallels with what we do at Diamond Bank – bringing people together from various backgrounds, connecting with them and sharing common ideals, life and goals.
4) Hold your horses, Technology!: Of course, it is easy to get carried away and argue that technology is the answer to everything and that it has no down side. When talking about a 4th Industrial Revolution (technology revolution) the parallels with those that came before – which includes negative factors, such as job losses through mechanisation, pollution and the rise of inequality – must be recognised. Therefore, I was pleased to hear and see that much of the debate about technology and its undeniable potential was also grounded in realism.
5) Nigeria’s potential: One of my key learnings from the conference was, with all the industrial developments that are taking place, its imperative the benefits are evenly distributed; and hopefully Nigeria can benefit from the same as well. Undoubtedly, Nigeria has come a long way, it has leapfrogged and demonstrates true potential. But it has also made me realise, that we still have a long way to go, that more honest work needs to happen, starting with infrastructure.
6) Tech enabled strategic partnerships: It further crystallised to me the work that Diamond Bank is involved in, especially in helping overcoming obstacles through our App and technology enabled services. Furthermore, our partnerships with key tech players such as MTN has furthered this belief. For instance, through MTN’s network, we are able to reach out to more remote areas and help them overcome the otherwise infrastructure barriers.