Popoola: The Impact of AI on Businesses in Nigeria Will be Generally Positive – THISDAY Newspapers


A pioneer in the Nigeria digital space, Williams Popoola is the founder of Wow Effect Communications, a leading marketing consulting firm in Nigeria.  In this interview, he spoke about emerging technologies, digital marketing space and other issues. Nosa Alekhuogie presents the excerpts.
What makes your Digital Agency different from others?
I will say our culture of client centricity. We do not say we are the oldest or the best. Rather, we stress on making our clients the best in their sphere of business. And in the success of our client’s business, lies our success. I think clients see this and appreciate it. We also have a rare combination of creative, technical capabilities and our obsession with data and testing.
What is your view on the global 5G War with the United States of America and China?
5G technology is a quantum leap from 4G and the endless potential applications with 5G make it a big deal – everything from interconnections among the billions of objects comprising the Internet of Things (IOT) to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transportation within and between cities. 
The country that grabs the lead in 5G will be positioned for global digital dominance, likely tantamount to overall dominance in technology. So, the 5G war between the US and China is understandable.
But speaking about 5G adoption in Nigeria, I think it will be very minimal. This is mainly because of the high cost of deploying 5G technology and the higher cost of 5G phones. 
What are some of the projects you’ve worked on?
That is a very difficult question as there are so many projects. But I will say I am most excited about projects that have huge social impacts. Our cancer awareness campaign in Africa for HCG Oncology of India, Covid 19 awareness campaigns for a lot of Nigerian organisations and then currently, I am really I excited about the work we are doing in bringing digitalisation to a lot of Nigeria schools through Google Workspace for education.
What are some business tips you can give to startups?
They should pay attention to product market fit. No matter how good or farsighted your idea is, it will not be sustainable if it does not fit the market.
I mean, startups fail because they try to build a product for customers that don’t exist. After product market fit, I will advise they take marketing very seriously. A lot of startups seem to believe that “if they build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to their door.”
Unfortunately, this is not exactly true. If you don’t market your product, you will not reach your audience. If you don’t reach your audience, you will not get customers. If you don’t have customers coming in, your startup will fail.
How will AI affect businesses in the future and how can leaders prepare for it?
From smartphones to chatbots, Artificial intelligence (AI) is already ubiquitous in our lives. For businesses, the role of AI is to automate routine tasks and make decisions the way a human would have done. In addition, AI can solve complex problems, make predictions about business parameters, and help enterprises becoming digital.
I think the impact of AI on business will be generally positive. It will allow machines to do things that allow human beings to do even more enriching things.
So how do businesses prepare for it? I say re-tool in skill acquisition, it’s all about having the right skill set in your business.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
To be honest, it has been good for business. A lot of businesses that never took their digital presence serious before suddenly realised its importance. So, on that score, it was good. 
One lesson I learned from the Covid19 challenge again is that people and organisations are adaptive. Many companies implemented new ways of engaging with their customers through digital channels and new ways of operating internally with a remote workforce in a matter of weeks. I mean previously, such significant changes would have been estimated to take years.
What are some recent company milestones for your Agency?
Well, in addition to our Google Marketing Partnership, we secured Google Cloud Partnership too. Then, we have strengthened our security offerings by partnering with Appsco of Norway and Dataguard MEA.
Then, we have just finalised the opening of our East Africa office.
In the next three to five years, how do you see the social media space evolving? How do you see brands utilising the medium to increase brand awareness or engage consumers?
Regulation will be strengthened, especially in privacy. Platforms will also become more difficult around content filtering, we saw that happening with Twitter ban of presidents, Google Play removal of Sugar Daddy App and the likes.
As a futurist, how do you believe marketing technology and data will come together to deliver better personalisation?
Advances in technology, data, and analytics will soon allow marketers to create much more personal and ‘human’ experiences across moments, channels, and buying stages. The common axis of that transformation will be the astounding power that individual marketers will have at their fingertips to create, experiment, analyse, and innovate like never before. Invariably, when you personalize your marketing, you send the right message to the right people at the right time.
How does Wow work with other marketing agencies and niche services? How does this add to your agency’s capabilities and make you an industry-leader in your niche expertise?
So, we work with a lot of traditional marketing agencies. This happens in two ways, some of our clients require some offline engagements and since these are not within our own areas of competence, we have a list of traditional agencies we refer these projects to. Then when these agencies get a digital brief, they reach out and we work together to deliver great service to their clients. 
How did your firm become the Digital Marketing Agency that attracts big and enviable accounts?
Honestly, I do not know. But one thing I think has probably contributed to this is our ability to connect our work to how the C-suite makes decisions. You know — profits, revenue, leveraging existing assets, Return on Investments (ROI), customer acquisition, etc. That’s different from the natural language that a digital marketing person will speak – rankings, canonicals, engagements, CRO etc. 
Looking back, over this seven-year period, how would you quantify the impact that digital innovation has had on the business?
I guess the ubiquity of that is obvious. 
What new technology are you most excited about (if any)?
I will say quantum computing. While I will not pretend to say that I understand its workings in detail, I mean that will require a strong background in linear algebra, which I obviously don’t have. But I am excited about what is possible with quantum computing. 
By leveraging ever more sophisticated, AI-powered tools, augmented marketers will achieve new levels of creativity and productivity in crafting magical moments for customers.
Tell us a little about your company
We are a full-Service Digital Solution Company based in Lagos, Nigeria. We assist businesses of all sizes – small to mid and large enterprises in their digital transition efforts.
Today’s technologies are re-shaping the world, creating both enormous growth opportunities and essential threats at the same time.
We help you evolve quickly to seize the opportunities while effectively mitigating the risks that this reality presents.
Founded on January 22, 1995, THISDAY is published by THISDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD., 35 Creek Road Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria with offices in 36 states of Nigeria , the Federal Capital Territory and around the world. It is Nigeria’s most authoritative news media available on all platforms for the political, business, professional and diplomatic elite and broader middle classes while serving as the meeting point of new ideas, culture and technology for the aspirationals and millennials. The newspaper is a public trust dedicated to the pursuit of truth and reason covering a range of issues from breaking news to politics, business, the markets, the arts, sports and community to the crossroads of people and society.
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