Obi Asika is the CEO of Storm 360
Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?
I am focused on content and the ability of mobile to deliver across many segments, from education to music, from movies to comedy and sports, we have been in the forefront of validating authentic and original Nigerian content and we want to be in the forefront of monetising it, mobile is disrupting all the media industries and in Nigeria we want to be amongst those early players who are able to ride the changes and take advantage.
In this regard the importance of social media is key and one will share insights from the inaugural Social Media Week Lagos held in Feb 2013 and i believe that the advent of e-commerce 2012-2 in Nigeria and the growth of cashless banking and retail are all moving us forward to even more reliance on mobile devices.
Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?
I think everybody is beginning to understand the importance of local and relevant content, no point having 110m devices if you cannot offer them unique experiences, the increased speed of broadband is critical and one is watching the advance of LTE, and firms such as Binu and others who are focusing on the feature phones, in Africa and Nigeria one must not get too carried away with smart phones when 80% of the market is feature phones but must be prepared for this to turn around massively over the next 18 months.
Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?
Again as above the key issue now would be network capacity and quality for the mno’s and then broadband access and speed for consumers, it will be very interesting to see how LTE plays out in Nigeria and of course as mentioned some of the companies working on compression technology to enable content be experienced on feature phones as well. We are clearly moving into the era when Data will dominate all conversations and Nigeria is clearly in massive need of data services and content.
Com World Series: How are smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?
At the elite level there is enormous adoption but these numbers will still be small compared to the entire market, however these tools are in the hands of managers, entreupeuners, and companies, soon i expect public institutions to become more automated, it is interesting to see what states like Ekiti are doing with their OPON_IMO educational project where they are providing tablets to secondary school students, i think we will see a lot happening with these devices and education and health services delivery in Nigeria. I think this is a space everyone needs to watch especially all the developers working on local tablets but the key will be their ability to scale and move forward to meet mass demand and perhaps challenge established models.
Com World Series: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?
I think Etisalat, Samsung, Techno, Huawei, are amongst the leaders in this regard and i think its about mindset and how they penetrate and work with the local community and focus on the needs and aspirations of their consumers and target markets locally, those who make the effort to differentiate their offerings for the local consumer is always likely to win in any market. I think brands such as mi-fone who are launching their devices into this market should serve as a lesson for local entreupeuners, they build their own brand and are now competing, we cannot always be receivers of product surely. In terms of content and services one must continue to watch the various hubs especially CC Hub and some of the outcomes, i must mention Tony Elumelu Foundation and also Nokia who supported the release of the Efiko app and again this is both disruptive and innovative.
Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?
I think my primary interest is to engage and dig further into the ecosystem to see how we can create better, stronger, multi-purpose content that works on mobile and is relevant for our primary audience, how we can do this and monetise it and make it first national, then continental and finally global, these are my primary objectives and i am keen to engage and hear from all who have done this already and those who are interested in the power of our content and by this i focus on Nigerian content (from music to movies, from sports to comedy, from motivational to religious, there is a huge opportunity beckoning and i believe there are new models to drive further investment and revenue opportunities for all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.