Mr. George Agu is chief executive officer of ActivEdge Technologies Limited, a Pan African Information Technology Company, focused in development, Integration and Support of a wide range of Strategic and Transformational IT solution for the public and private sector. Prior to founding ActivEdge Technologies in Nigeria, George was the managing director of Neptune Software in the West African where he achieved remarkable success in over 2 years. He spoke to chike onwuegbuchi on the drive for the company and other issues.
Nigeria is our country and we all share a responsibility of giving it the best possible. It is not a dumping ground and we must all wake up from our slumber to attend to issues bothering on value realization and optimization from every investment and spending particularly IT investments. Government is investing in IT, the private sector is investing in IT, each of these parties are investing with a mindset that certain set of values and objectives will be achieved. Our portion in the entire equation is to ensure that values are realized and optimized out of every cent spent by the stakeholders on projects. We must move from an environment where everyone can play to an environment where only well qualified and vetted experts can play which is why we would rather start by representing industry leaders and ultimately learning from it to built world class products.
If you look at the list of our partners which include ContinutySA, Avalon Biometrics, Experian, Mincom, Shaya Infosec, you would have formed a certain picture of reputation and quality in your mind, picture of achievements and authorities in various areas. The various partner companies are authorities in their own fields and there is only one reason for that: Projects are meant to succeed and they are not meant to be used as a learning ground.
These partners have made tremendous success in their various fields of specialization. ContinuitySA with over 21 years of leadership in BCM is the largest and foremost Business Continuity Management Company in Africa and to date, the only African based company who Exco sits on the board of BCI in the UK; Experian Decision Analytics with over 30 years of operations has over 20 credit bureaux globally, over 2000 customers, assist over 2 billion credit decisions yearly. Similarly, Avalon Biometrics are behind many voter registration projects, a simple example will include their projects in Philippines, Bangladesh and several others handled for the UNDP, the EU, and so on. We have chosen to operate this way because if it works out well in Nigeria, we are an immediate beneficiary in every way.
We want to leverage on the pedigree, the proven skill set, the capabilities, and the track record of those who have tried it and succeeded many times in delivering certain IT projects. We do not want to experiment with projects because projects are not toys, it must succeed. The purpose of projects, particularly government or private projects is economic development. In other words, success must rob off on the investment made and touch the lives of people for whom these investments have been made.
The success of projects must be felt by the stakeholders above and beyond reports and sign offs by the vendors and stakeholders; it must be felt. If the results are not felt, then you cannot really say that there is project success'.
Use of Biometrics
Biometrics has a wide range of uses and applications from homes, medicals, schools, telecoms, elections to anything because you cannot beat what it brings if well applied. Biometrics also comes in different forms, be it fingerprints, finger vein, palm vein, iris, thumbprints, retina scan, DNA, typing patterns, hand geometry, among others. Many countries have for example attained credible elections in recent times, thanks to Biometrics technology. According to Bruce Schneider, 'Biometrics is seductive. Your voiceprint unlocks the door of your house. Your iris scan lets you into the corporate offices. You are your own key. Unfortunately, the reality isn't that simple. Biometrics is hard to forge: it's hard to put a false fingerprint on your finger, or make your iris look like someone else's. Some people can mimic others' voices, and
Hollywood can make people's faces look like someone else, but these are specialized or expensive skills. When you see someone sign his name, you generally know it is he and not someone else'.
Focus of the Company
Active Edge Technologies is a is a multi faceted, multi expert IT company that is specialized in a wide range of solutions including Business Continuity Management, Risk Assessment and Analytics, Managed Security Services and Patch Management, Business Process Management and Biometrics.
Our role in this economy can be considered transformational. In business continuity management for instance, we have developed a short term, medium term and long term strategic plan aligned with goals for addressing BCM requirements of medium to large sized organizations. Failure to implement BCM by organizations can amount to reputation loss, increased operational costs and values; these are the issues that we intend to address. We are currently engaging organizations to provide information on the benefit of this exercise. I need to clarify that BCM and Basel2 share some common characteristics both in gain and deployment models. I say this because in most cases organizations embark on the two exercises due to regulation. In the same way, implementing BCM with a mindset of leveraging its benefits gives you a different result from implementing it because the regulatory authority has issued an order that compels organizations to do so.
So, we are engaging several organizations, banks, insurance companies, etc and providing them with as much information as we possibly can. We also use the same opportunity to know their various stages of implementation of BCM and where we can be of help. This will be followed by a training program which will be driven mainly by ContinuitySA. They will also be providing advisory, consulting and training services to individual organization based on request.
Our long term plan which we share with ContinuitySA is to build a world class business continuity management facility in Nigeria capable of hosting as many as 15 to 20 banks together should a disaster incidence occur. In the event of such an incident, we should be able to take host of these clients to the tune of 3,000 staff in a place. This facility once built should be able to have conference centres, contact centres, IT recovery centres, work areas recovery centres and so on. When you bring banks together and make them share a common business continuity management facility, what you have done is to save them from individually investing in houses, generators and people. This simply reduces their overall operational cost. This plan is a replica of a similar facility built by ContinuitySA in South Africa and a few other countries. They have operated it for several years now and they have the requisite skills to replicate the same facility here. We are very confident to work with ContinuitySA because they are the largest in that space in Africa today and they well understand some sensitive issues integrity and confidentiality of customer information mean.
Risk Analytic and Assessment System
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 65 countries. The company helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft. With over 30 years, Experian has developed its best practice analytical, consulting and product capabilities to support organizations to manage and optimize risk; prevent, detect and reduce fraud; reduce debt; meet regulatory obligations; and gain operational efficiencies throughout the customer relationship. We are working with Experian purely on account of our evaluation and assessment of the value that they can bring to the financial institutions in particular at this crucial time.
The work performed by most Risk Managers entails managing existing Risks. In that situation, less effort is invested in predictive Risk Assessment and Analytics, which ensures that new risks are detected and prevented from onset. A unique offering from Experian us is to give banks and other organization that grant any form of credit: Telcos, Insurance, etc a solution that ensures that they are able to detect and prevent risks even before it becomes part of the organizations and if they must allow it, they will have controls in place to be able to manage and control it. This is simply the strength of Experian's Decision Analytics.
Vision for ActiveEdge Technologies
We want to be a recognized IT leader in Africa and beyond, an industry leader that delivers quality services and result to its customers. We want to be a choice organization for both customers and employees. A company that advances the capabilities, skills and employability of its staff, a company that benefits the social society, which is a dream that we have and where we are headed. We want to start from the point of representing industry leaders to innovating our own solutions and services. A few years from now, we are looking at having some unique products that will be patented on the African continent and globally. We want to look back and see real automation done in Nigerian, not just computerization. We would like to see more automation in the payment space, in the invoicing space, in the biometrics and identification space, in the banking space, in the finance and insurance space and the infrastructure space. These are our aspirations.