AIESEC @ European Business Summit 2014: The Digital Era: A New Business Frontier

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Written by Babajide Okusanya, National Director of Marketing & Communications of AIESEC Belgium

Babajide Okusanya

Babajide Okusanya, National Director of Marketing & Communications of AIESEC Belgium

We are at the start of the 21st century and technology is evolving faster than we could imagine; driving innovation in all facets of the life – from basic everyday activities to space exploration – technology is fuelling humanity’s progress and growth. All ages – from toddlers to retirees – have access to technology that makes information more accessible than ever before. A combination of hardware, software and internet proliferation has paved the way to the rise to the digital era; which not only makes information accessible but accessible anywhere. The seeds that led to this were set decades ago after the invention of the first electronic computer, the first personal computer, the first graphical user interface operating system, the first nodes connected to the internet, the evolution of communication technologies and the first mobile phones.

If we take a snapshot of this century, there are quite a number of revelations to note. One of which is the empowerment of start-ups. Start-ups are now able to create digital solutions for everyday problems with a strong business model to be able to power it.

Not just start-ups but existing business, NGOs, SMEs and MNEs are capitalizing on the perks of the digital era. By optimising communication channels, organisations are able to drive efficiency through intranets, network-based software and local or cloud servers. Business meetings have evolved as well making it possible to have a board meeting with executives from across the globe simultaneously and seamlessly. For a global organisation like ours where we have stakeholders from across 124 countries, coordinating a virtual meeting is more essential now than ever. We are able to organise a joint conference call that connects all of our country presidents.

Communication is one major perk from this era, another is data storage. Gone are the days when losing one document could cause a huge blow for an organisation. Now businesses invest in data centres and cloud storage to ensure they maintain confidentiality, integrity and availability of their data regardless of disasters or unforeseen circumstances which might occur. With the growing need for mobility and accessibility of businesses and organisations, cloud storage has been growing to meet these needs to provide remote access to data through multiple devices.

As mentioned earlier, there is a growing need for mobility and accessibility which has been made possible by smaller and simpler devices capable of connecting to the internet and carrying out the same level of operations as a desktop computer if not more. It is now possible to have wrist-watches capable of checking emails and organising calendars, or laptops that are as thin as 5mm. This changes behaviours and cultures of organisations and the capabilities of its human resource even beyond the office environment. This even poses a question as to whether a physical office is needed in the first place. There are business in Europe alone that are being run from virtual offices where staff are capable of working anywhere that is suitable for them at any particular point in time.

There are still numerous of organisations in Europe that are unable to capitalize on the opportunities the digital era offers. One core reason to this the fear of implementing technologies that affect business processes; the saying “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” comes into the scene. There are businesses that have been running operations the same way and still having loyal customers and growing. A simple change by placing their operations online and automating processes can increase results tremendously making it possible for customers to be able to access the products and services offered in a very convenient manner. This can be achieved through a simple website/web application, an online payment system and social media pages to facilitate B2B and B2C interactions. Businesses that are able to have this shift done are able to grow in profit, reduce costs and increase customer-base.

Every day, technology opens a new door for business practices, cultures, partnerships and opportunities. The digital era is breaking down barriers that have been faced by businesses for centuries, making the world smaller and more efficient and making it possible to optimise the implementation of resources to yield the best results. Technology is not to be feared but embraced; technology is evolving so fast that “understanding technology and being able to control it as fundamental as being able to read and write” as said by Ryan Carson (Co-Founder of Team Treehouse). On this note, I highly encourage businesses to capitalize on technology, evolve business processes and share good-case practices to drive growth.

About the Author

Babajide Okusanya is a Nigerian and has a background and experience in Information Technology. He was a panellist at the IT West Africa Leaders’ Summit in November 2013 where he interacted with start-ups, multinational governments interested in driving technological growth in the African continent. He is a youth activist currently in Belgium as the National Director of Marketing and Communications for the national office of AIESEC. For the past 5 years, he has been working with AIESEC by delivering trainings, managing projects, organising and attending conferences, building partnerships, developing IT systems, developing marketing and PR strategies in Africa, Europe and Asia. 

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