A Connected World – Convergence, Conversation, Connections.
The concept of ‘Internet of Things’ and discovery of the five (5) major future trends in technology (Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Workforce Automation and Digital Disruption) reconfirms the (obvious) fact that the world is already deeply connected. In fact, the context of connectivity far outweighs connectedness because the ‘global village’ and ‘digital village’ concepts in Mass Communication and ICT4D are at least two (2) decades old.
“Experts predict the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ — less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill…”
Digital Life in 2025 Study, Pew Research Centre
Accordingly, the celebration of 25 years of the discovery of the World Wide Web (WWW) by Sir Tim Bernards-Lee marked a new vista in technology forecasting. It also propounded schools of thoughts, research theories and concepts, which perceive connectedness as long conquered. Critics may weigh in on the fact that significant populations of the world are marginalised and seemingly victims of a ‘digital eclipse’; nonetheless, this provides a clear opportunity for leapfrogging because as Internet and technology penetration deepens and diffuses across these regions, connectedness or basic levels of connectivity will be overlooked, as interventions will move populations from merely being connected to the disruption of their lives.
Consequently, the significant investments in developing, communicating and executing an agenda-setting initiative and industry platform such as TechPlus, should not be to confirm the obvious and over flog a tested & trusted concept and fact; rather, it should seek to catapult participants into future possibilities, position Africa in the Thought Leadership map and spur enterprises to innovate their business models based on future potential and possibilities rather than past and current realities.
For instance, why suggest that connections alone are cutting-edge when the ability to effect mobile payments has been disrupted with new developments and evolved into automated intelligence and digital imagery aka #PayWithCapture?
TechPlus is positioned to be the largest international gathering for all things technology and technology-related in Nigeria and West Africa. The maiden edition held in 2015 with impressive statistics. However, there is a lot more room to cover in the increasingly burgeoning technology ecosystem in Africa.
The 2016 edition is positioned to become a reference point for all events, a memorable convergence of ideas, experience and access to the newest and most thought-provoking trends and developments from the past year and years ahead. From a simple format of plenary sessions and breakout sessions to a completely different and revolutionary style of running five (5) stages concurrently – the first in Nigeria – in order to allow a more robust conversation on technology, #TechPlus2016 has set a new standard in thought, content and talent for all other events to emulate.
Although the 2016 theme, ‘A Connected World’ aligns with the Lead Sponsor’s brand positioning, this does not remotely suggest the decision to hinge discussions on connectedness and connectivity. However, it is perceived as deliberate and laced with chutzpah because it captures the essence of our journey to integrating technology into our socio-economic development narrative as a continent. This journey is one we must embark upon with passion and aggression – as a solution to our current myriad of challenges. Africa is positioned for explosive economic growth and regarded by global financial experts as the next investment hub in the world, therefore technology serves as a catalyst for this robust capacity and future potential. Nonetheless, connectivity poses a very thought-provoking opportunity to engage across all sectors and is capable of sparking interest and commanding the attention of thought leaders within and outside the industry.
A Google search (at press time) for ‘a connected world’ returns 21.4 million search results with #TechPlus2016 leading on the continent. In addition, it draws credence to agenda-setting reports published in 2012 and 2013 on the role of connectivity in the development of economies. What is therefore intended is to carve a niche through the theme for easy alignment to the various sectors on display at the event (Government, Marketing & Brands, Business, Women in Technology, Education, Start-ups, etc.) This will no doubt ensure better top-of-mind awareness, interests and follow-up questions from the myriad of stakeholders.
“The most useful impact is the ability to connect people. From that, everything flows.”
The objective of this event is to propose best practices, suggest solutions and justify the business case for the impact of technology on human existence and this is the core essence for convening TechPlus 2016.
- Deliberate on relevant outcomes across each sector and focus area to the current theme in order to provide more context, thrust and alignment in industry solutions;
- Prepare a follow-up plan to the next steps and possible responsibilities of various stakeholders, as will be posited by the brilliant array and calibre of speakers such that it is feasible and achievable by Thought Leaders, intellectuals and laggards in the industry;
- Provide case study content by engaging ‘outlier brands’ who dominate as industry trend-setters in order to inspire innovative improvements and disruptive solutions that leapfrog African technological advancement;
- Demonstrate a more definitive scope for all sectors to engage the technology ecosystem in ways that clearly distinguish TechPlus from all other events in the industry where only techies engage one another;
- Through elevated content, calibre of speakers and quality of conversations, position TechPlus as the gathering of all technology gatherings on the continent and the one-stop demonstration of the best industry trends and developments;
- Put in place the right context and pool of technical expertise to facilitate effective public-private and non-profit partnerships for industry development;
- Showcase the very best of local content in formats that attract international participation and commercial patronage.
Consequently, the essence of connectivity cannot be overemphasised.
Over the last decade, many government and donor agencies have looked for more efficient ways to leverage declining resources, and for many, these partnerships seemed like effective solutions. Non-profits may do a better job by articulating their contributions to public-private relationships in building cities of the future. This discussion takes another look at these relationships, interrogating what has worked, not worked, as well as the possibility of better convergence of agents.
With the variety of social media apps and networks, it can be difficult to keep up with trends: 87 per cent of today’s youth have witnessed cyber bullying and close to 34 per cent of students acknowledge that they have experienced cyber bullying. On the flip side, a number of organisations are making significant investments in STEM for girls and promotion of adoption mechanisms for adult women. What are the implications of these trends for women and what measures can be adopted to make the virtual space safer? What undertones should women pay attention to and how can social media tools be utilised to curb bullying?
Women continue to lag behind in access to mobile phones and the Internet. Since digital literacy also sharpens other essential skills needed to operate in an ever-changing digital environment, many women still require support and resources through training to become digitally literate. This session is focused on increasing women’s access to and use of mobile phones and services especially in developing markets. It will also take a cursory look at closing the gender gap in digital skills such that more female talent can be attracted and retained over a period of time to boost female leadership in technology.
…today is technology-driven and Africa’s tomorrow will be TechPlus.
Technology is increasingly dependent on creativity through design, user experience, narratives and the explosion of augmented and virtual reality. On the flip side is the role of technology in the creative industry and the disruptive advancements recorded in fields such as arts, photography, film, advertising, publishing, media, public relations etc. However, the influence of technology on the creative economy as an enabler or hindrance is an emerging discourse. It may be pertinent to interrogate the future prospects for the sector through the seamless integration of technology infrastructure for curbing current and envisaged challenges. The conversation also planned will seek to compare indigenous technology in the sector vis-a-vis western trends and influences (hinged on technological advancement) in order to highlight opportunities for the industry.
Some of the conversations that will happen over the next few days have been highlighted in previous paragraphs and it is envisaged that the 2016 TechPlus experience provides participants a potpourri of opportunities to explore challenges requiring urgent solutions and for innovators, a clear picture to orchestrate the future Africa deserves.
Need we say more? Indeed, today is technology-driven and Africa’s tomorrow will be TechPlus.