In this interview, MR TOPE OLUTOLA, the Chief Software Architect/Managing Director of ETN.CONNECT Limited, a software development facility, speaks with IT Edge News, ANTHONY NWOSU on how they have deployed ICT solutions in ECOWAS region.
What are the basic solutions that you offer the Nigerian public and the ICT space?
We offer various ICT solutions for different sectors in the Nigerian eco space ranging from the hospitality sector to the financial sector even the retail sectors. The applications vary and we have different solutions like .CONNECT MEDICAL for Hospitals & Clinics, .CONNECT FINANCE, an Accounting and billing solution for business operations, .CONNECT SHOPPER for Supermarkets, Stores, Warehouses & Pharmacies, .CONNECT PERSONNEL for Human Resources Management and .CONNECT EDUCATOR for schools. We also write customized software solutions based on specific client needs. We can integrate with other major platforms like ORACLE, MICROSOFT, SAP & SAGE and other applications.
What is your take on local software and how true do we have it?
No doubt that the Nigerian business space is quickly evolving and indigenous Software Development companies are on ground to meet their needs. Locally developed software solves more problems than the foreign software. The major reason is that solutions are specifically designed to solve not only the general challenges but also the challenges specific to our region.
For example, currently there are lot of firms who find it difficult to effectively calculate their staff salaries, taxes or even pensions not to talk of tracking their corporate financials. We have developed solutions that solve these challenges and more and rest assured, they are in line with existing government and international regulations and standards. Companies currently on our platform have experienced continuous growth and efficiency in their corporate operations while minimizing costs.
How can we drive the issue of card payment to the Nigerian populace?
First, the POS machines needs to be deployed to many end users from Supermarkets, to eateries to the daily mom and pop shops. With the cashless policy already underway, people must be sensitized on the benefits of using their cards for payments rather than carrying cash around. Basically, once the store owners fully come to terms that their money is secured and will be deposited in their accounts on time, they will be more willing to embrace this technology. I think Nigeria is ready.
The basic challenges you face?
The major one is low self-esteem; a lot of our potential clients have issues accepting Nigerian software solutions. I understand their apprehension but there are software development houses that can develop world class software solutions. Lots of people have a problem accepting that a black person can develop solutions of international repute. Once this mentality is changed then we can grow from there. Other challenges like energy can be handled easily but the major one is acceptability.
What about the solutions you have for educational institutions?
Education is really an integral part of Nigeria thus, we saw a need to improve the management of educational institutions and put Nigeria among the world best .CONNECT EDUCATOR manages both the Administration and Financial aspect of schools and higher institutions. Our software is also embedded with E-learning and cloud based initiatives that allow for remote learning capabilities. The software helps most schools streamline their resources and manage it efficiently at a much reduced cost.
“The major one is low self-esteem; a lot of our potential clients have issues accepting Nigerian software solutions.”
You have done business with world class institutions like Honda etc, what did you do for them?
We started our business relationship with Honda a few years ago. Initially it was tough for them to accept us but after we solved some critical manufacturing problems using locally developed customized solutions, they were able to operate more efficiently with reduced costs.
We developed software that helps them manufacture motorcycles and generators which includes tracking their spare parts. Till today, our software is still a critical part of their day to day operations.
In the financial sector, we developed an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution that allows financial trading companies to effectively manage client relationships, financial transactions as well as equities and bond trading. We can design a fully integrated solution from the ground up for any company. We have clients in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, financial and other sectors.
Today we are having security challenges in Nigeria and from the look of things every facility is installing CCTV and do you think that is the best way to go about it?
Personally speaking, I think that CCTV is an old technology. It is better to use IPTV, I tell them that the modern security today is IPTV which is Internet Protocol Television. With this type of technology you can monitor your facility remotely in any part of the world and even hear what people are saying.
We are now designing an application known as Biometric Remote Security System. This is a solution that helps an organization monitor who enters the premises and facility remotely. Unlike conventional biometric where information is stored in the device which can be hacked or tampered with, our solution stores biometric information on a remote server where access can be granted based on user access levels. Imagine being in Lagos and opening a door to an office in Abuja. This is the solution we provide.
What is your take on skills sets in Nigeria, do you think Nigerians have the capacity globally?
I believe that our Nigerian youths if given a chance can perform wonders. This is one of the reason that I came back to Nigeria, I have worked with highest echelons of security companies in United States developing top secret solutions. People sometimes ask me what am I doing in Nigeria and I tell them I have to contribute to the growth of our country. We can build a nation of intellectuals. This is very crucial. I believe that if the government and firms can focus on Research & Development, this would set the country out of woods.
We have total confidence in Nigerian skill sets and we have been working with Nigerians for years, we have been delivering world class solutions to organizations using Nigerians. Our vision is to build a software campus where engineers can reside and develop next generation solutions for not only our dear country but the continent. In the next few years knowledge is the only thing that will set us free not oil.
What is your take on government agencies not fast tracking ICT applications in their service and have you done business with government?
I think that NITDA and NCC should be driving E- government for a start. I think Nigerians should be able to conduct business transactions and get information online without having to go to government office. This will bring down the cost of running the government and increase efficiency. Are they doing enough now? Well, I think they are trying and they should do better. If and when government starts supporting and embracing indigenous software firms, we stand a chance of leap frogging our counterparts in other regions of the world.
For Information and enquiries, visit our website http://www.etnconnect.com or call 0818-254-2535 and 0803-192-0068.