Punch Newspaper: SMEs: Facing competition using Internet [ICT Clinic Page]

Small and Medium Scale Enterprises attract a lot of attention today. The reason is simply because developing and supporting SMEs is the way out of the current unemployment challenges that we are facing today as a nation.

My focus in this piece is on the challenges of competition among the SMEs on one hand and with other bigger companies on the other. Many of these small business owners are negatively affected by stiff competition leading to some of them dying prematurely. It is quite possible for the SMEs to successfully face competition using various online strategies.

The first point is for every SME, as a matter of necessity, to have online presence, in the early life of the enterprise. I recommend that such enterprises should simultaneously launch their website as they are commencing their business operations. Think about it, with a website, one can easily start a business – imagine what the multiplier effect will be if we have a higher percentage of the unemployed starting their own enterprises using the Internet as the focal point and not having to bother so much about setting up a physical structure. SMEs should have user-friendly websites that are able to sell their products and services each time prospects come calling.

It is important to install analytics on your website because it plays a vital role in measuring the performance of the business online and also assists in the planning of the right marketing strategies for targeting the prospective customer base.

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Punch Newspaper: How to avoid Blogging Failure [ICT Clinic Page]

Is blogging dead? I have been asked this question a number of times. The truth is that blogging is no joke, and quite a number of people abandon their blogs after a few weeks into the journey.

Well, I have been a blogger for five years and I am not about to stop. This is because I have come to accept it as difficult but fun with long term benefits. For example, I plan to keep my personal blog for a long time whether I update it or not. This simply means that for many years to come, people can read some of the articles I wrote as a youth.

Today’s piece will be of great benefit to all bloggers and aspiring bloggers. So, should you be dissatisfied with your existing blog or unable to obtain the results that you so greatly expect from blogging, may I offer you a solution – Fix the problem.

An inquiry into your blog will be a starting point to finding a solution. As such, you will instinctively know every answer that relates to the following questions, and will need to write them down:

1. What desired goal does your blog serve?

2. What is your target audience like?

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Punch Newspaper: Local content for ICT: A Welcome Development [ICT Clinic Page]

A few days ago, precisely 3rd-5th December, 2013, IT professionals across Nigeria gathered at the e-Nigeria Conference 2013 held at the Shehu Musa Yaradua centre, Abuja to discuss the imperative of a local content policy for the ICT sector in Nigeria.

Thankfully, the ICT industry is pretty unique in many ways, hence countless hours of deliberations were not required to come up with a policy that is suitable for our local ICT industry, in the first phase.

First and foremost, we must be clear on the fact that the ICT industry is one that cuts across all other industries, be it agriculture, medicine, architecture, aviation, education, military – you name it. Today, ICT plays a major role in making various industries effective. What this simply means is that government must understand this underlining fact and give ICT the A+ status it deserves because its relevance cuts across every other industry.

We do not pray for wars, but they are inevitable sometimes, if only to whip an insane set of people into line and prevent them from wrecking further havoc. How do you think the future wars will be fought? Is it going to be with ground troops or warships? I think not! Future wars will most likely be fought electronically operating ICT hardware and software from a remote location i.e. unmanned drones.

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Punch Newspaper: How ICT can transform governance in Nigeria [ICT Clinic Page]

Facebook has well over a billion registered users and over 50 per cent including yours truly logging in at least once a day, with about 250 million of them accessing the platform throughout the world via their mobile devices at any given moment.

At any given minute, an average of five million comments are being posted; 1.3 million photos are being uploaded; about the same amount of messages are being sent, and about one million friend requests are being made; with more than a quarter of it being accepted within the same time frame.

Though the United States of America has the largest user base on Facebook with 155 million users, representing about 23.3 per cent of the US population, more than 70 per cent of the entire population of Facebook users are scattered across the globe. And you can virtually sift through this massive hive of information in a matter of seconds or minutes to locate friends, files and other information about or generated by other Facebook users from different parts of the world as one out of every 13 people on earth are on Facebook.

To accommodate the huge diversity of the Facebook community, the site has more than 70 different translations with about 300,000 people helping to translate the site through different translations applications.

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Punch Newspaper: Mobile Marketing Trends [ICT Clinic Page]

Mobile marketing has grown and continues to grow tremendously in Nigeria as in other parts of the world.

A recent study revealed that mobile subscribers are going to exceed the seven billion mark by the end of 2013 and 7.5 billion by the end of 2014. It is estimated to grow to 8.5 billion by the end of 2016. These are mind bugling figures that every business owner should take seriously.

Forbes laid credence to this fact when it stated that 40 per cent of views on its most popular post readers came from smart phones. It is therefore a good idea for any serious business owner to begin to pay greater attention to visitors that are arriving this rapidly expanding channel.

According to Forbes reports, views on its site via tablets are about six per cent. The monthly visitors to the site are about 50 million and among them, 40 per cent are coming via smartphones. This is definitely a very large amount of the visitors via smartphones and tells us how and where the world is going.

With this trend, it is certainly not out of place to expect increased visitors, viewing via mobile channels, which is made possible because mobile devices are portable and can be easily carried about unlike large computers and laptops.

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Punch Newspaper: ICT and global knowledge economy, prospects and challenges for Nigeria (II) [ICT Clinic Page]

This is a continuation of last week’s piece that is focused on helping Nigerians and her leaders understand the importance of preparing for the knowledge economy (boom) that has already started.

I clearly recall the statement made by Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the Minister of Communications Technology at the 2013 ISPON conference: “…the world is moving rapidly into a knowledge-based economy and Nigeria is placed in a position where it can capitalise on the lessons learned from the industrial age while positioning itself to be a force in the knowledge age.”

While I share and to a large extent agree with her optimism, I am afraid if other arms of government are indeed ready. For me, hopping into the knowledge economy goes beyond the efforts of a single ministry; it has to be a lot more holistic.

Our current educational system has not significantly engaged the immediate challenges enough to adequately proffer viable knowledge-based solutions on such a scale that would give us unique competitive advantage in this era of globalisation – a disturbing disconnect between the ivory towers, the students themselves, and then of course policy formulators.

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Punch Newspaper: ICT and global knowledge economy, prospects and challenges for Nigeria (I) [ICT Clinic Page]

The knowledge economy is an economic reality whose time has come; thanks to ICT. Whether Nigeria and its people wake up to the reality or not, the truth remains that the country occupies a prime place that entrusts her with a leadership role as the largest black nation in the world.

It is the second largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, the largest producer of oil in Africa and the seventh largest oil producer in the world; with its quality of oil ranked among the best three globally.

Petroleum is only one of the many natural resources that Nigeria is blessed with. The country is equally blessed with fertile land, topography and climate that are a haven for agricultural activities to thrive.

How about our mineral resources? I understand that Ondo, Ekiti and a few other states have huge deposits of bitumen. What all these unique information about Nigeria simply shows is the fact that she possesses certain knowledge, experience and wealth that no other African country has – a fact that gives her an edge in a global knowledge economy. Or so it should.

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Punch Newspaper: Tips for making money on Amazon Kindle [ICT Clinic Page]

Innovation is at the heart of success in today’s highly competitive world and one man who has been at the forefront of this innovation is Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com; owners of kindle – the innovative solution that I am about to throw more light on.

Recently, Bezos doled out two hundred and fifty million dollars to buy Washington Post.

One waits to see what tech innovation would come out of his promise to turn around the ailing newspaper giant. Here is the interesting part of the story: a few weeks later he sold about a million shares of Amazon.com and recouped every dime he spent on Washington Post.

Sometimes I wonder if these tech companies are not just over-priced. The most critical question for me is: how can Nigerians benefit from a behemoth like Amazon not just as buyers but also as suppliers especially on a platform like Kindle?

Kindle has caused a major shift in the way and manner people publish and access books like never before and it is a trend fast spreading across the globe. You can become a publisher or an author for next to nothing. Not only that, you can now access books easily either at no cost or for as little as $2.

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Punch Newspaper: How To Avoid Brick Walls On Social Media [ICT Clinic Page]

Imagine someone trying to talk to the brick walls. What do you think will be the outcome? Your guess is as good as mine. It really does not matter if your purpose online is to market some start-up small enterprise, a political or a non-profit organisation. Perhaps, you may even be attempting to promote your personal brand online. The truth is that there is a possibility that your message does not get across to your target audience properly. So, imagine investing time and efforts in certain activities that you hope would attract potential customers to your website, and then you fail to see any appreciable likes, meaningful comments and perhaps shares by your network. This is a typical example of what I refer to as a ‘brick wall’ – a growing phenomenon. I say this because experience has proven that it is one challenge that has frustrated many business owners that I have met across the country.

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Many of them go as far as making it a duty to share articles they find to be of common interest on their respective social media sites so that others can also benefit from them. Quite a few of these may also go unnoticed. In all probability, there are not too many people immune to the proverbial ‘brick wall’ syndrome.

To give you a fair insight into apparent causes linked to the ‘brick wall’ syndrome and guidelines on how to sideline them, you may like to check out the strategies below:

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Punch Newspaper: Developing Nigeria’s Software Industry [ICT Clinic Page]

I am quite disturbed that our local software industry is not growing at the pace it ought to, at least when compared to that of other developing nations. Is it that Nigerians are not capable of delivering world-class products and services? Or can this simply be attributed to our unbridled desire for anything foreign? These and many other questions are begging for answers, which we must provide, otherwise we might as well forget playing any significant role in the fast paced ICT world. We might as well just remain a consuming nation, both online and offline. This, however, is not the best for our country.

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There is the need for us to step up our game in the ICT world to be reckoned with in the comity of nations.

ICT is ruling the world presently in the military, civil and social life of the citizens. Any country that refuses to move in tandem with the flow and pays lip service to issues of developing this sector will be left behind to pick the crumbs that fall from the table of countries that take it seriously. I read about a group called the “Syrian Electronic Army” that hacked some web properties belonging to President Barack Obama and his team – this simply points to the fact that Nigeria needs to start recruiting, training and equipping her own cyber army that will defend her when the need arises.

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