By Austin Okere
This pandemic has uncovered the soft underbelly of our unwillingness to think beyond the present and anticipate future eventualities.
There have been various experiences and pronouncements regarding the education of our youth in the past couple of weeks. At the local secondary level, my son’s school completed the syllabus for the current term through online classes at home.
Far afield, the Harvard University is offering 67 online courses for free to help academics through lockdown and quarantine; while Coursera is partnered with 192 institutions from 43 countries and offering more than 3,200 online courses in 13 languages.
In sharp contrast, the Kano State Government has ordered all schools to stop online classes immediately, while the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) through an interview of their President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi with the Punch Newspaper has declared that E-Learning cannot work in Nigeria.
In his TED talk on the three ways to plan for the very long term, Ari Wallach canvasses: Trans-generational Thinking (thinking beyond just your own lifetime), Thinking of possible futures and not just one future, in case of eventualities. And having a 30-year horizon in our thinking process, not just the next couple of years.
I wrote this article four years ago, when I was invited as the Keynote Speaker at the GBSN/EFMD joint Conference at Accra, Ghana in November 2016.
It seems that the chickens have come home to roost.
The EFMD is a leading international network of business schools and companies (820 members from 82 countries) at the forefront or raising the standards of management education and development globally. EFMD runs the EQUIS and EPAS accreditation systems as well as the EFMD Deans Across Frontiers development programme (EDAF) and is one of the key reference points for management education worldwide.
The GBSN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening management, entrepreneurial and leadership talent for the developing world through better access to quality, locally relevant education. GBSN harnesses the power of a network of nearly 70 leading business schools that share a dedication to their mission to build management education capacity for the developing world.
Even though I spoke about Business Schools. The insights stretch across the whole educational system. The Chinese use the same expression for Challenge and Opportunity because they are the two sides of the same coin.
We should not waste the crises of this painful pandemic, but rather exploit the opportunity to plan for Sustainability in our education system across all levels.
Time there was when an MBA from an Ivy League College will guarantee you a very lucrative high-profile job. This seems no longer to be the case.
I must tell you this story about a Kenyan lady who was settled in the UK. She had borrowed heavily to do an MBA at a business school hoping that this will secure her future.
Three years after graduation, she was facing eviction from her Council accommodation for back rents and no job in sight, albeit with a huge student loan overhang.
You cannot but empathise with her in her confusion, when through streaming tears, she told the court bailiffs how disappointed she was that she did everything right and felt rather short-changed by the system.
In my view, the real questions become: Are we setting the right expectation for Business School aspirants? Have schools missed the train of the Digital Revolution? Why are they refusing to innovate in today’s age of Digital Platforms?
After over a decade of being an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Columbia Business School in New York, and serving on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship, these are my insights about the need to re-imagine the Business School model to produce graduates who can thrive now and into the future:
- We need to start teaching people to learn “how to learn” than just to learn to master something, in this fast-disruptive world.
- The inverted classroom should be the new norm – the creative contribution of the class with a facilitator is much more effective than the messianic delivering of long lectures by a “professor”.
- To what extent are business schools allowing influence from markets – is there a concept of Entrepreneur-in-Residence or Professor of Practice attached to the school, linking industry experience and market expectation with learning concepts in business schools?
- Are we empowering students to create their own entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial spaces after graduation – today’s knowledge workers prefer to sell their time and talents to many organisations and be paid on an outcome basis than get stuck in a “9 to 5” job with one company – For example, Upwork provides a platform for matching requirements with skills in the shared economy.
- How can we encourage business schools to explore structures that teach how to leverage the need for inclusiveness, by bringing products and services to non-consumers through low-cost efficiencies and wider availability than fierce competition in a shrinking pie of current consumers?
- How can education reach more people more affordably? Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs is gradually taking the toll off traditional schools leveraging the ubiquity of broadband and connected devices – how well have we embraced the concept of MOOCs – concerns around quality of programs and teachers, while relevant, should not stop this viable way of reaching more people. They should be seen as a complement to traditional business schools than competition, especially in emerging markets, where 80% of the world resides, and are more likely to be excluded in formal settings.
- It is important for Regulation to catch up in this new area, as we open the door to online education and degrees
Clearly, hoping for an automatic lucrative job after an MBA is now a myth. The reality is that you should think along the lines of Bring Your Own Work (BYOW) to the party – this speaks to the need for deep entrepreneurial empowerment in the business school curriculum, and alignment to industry and social realities.
In my view, it is an indictment on the education system that many companies are now acting as their own incubation centres with University-like academies for new employees, following the apparent disconnect between graduating students and the job requirements of today. I believe that Universities should be collaborating with these centres to obtain valuable feedback for their curricula.
The biggest threat to success is success itself. Business Schools have been very successful over centuries. It is difficult to simulate hunger when you are full. You get into a comfort zone, and complacency sets in. You tend to assume an arrogance borne out of a false sense of invincibility that prevents you from opening yourself to any new ideas.
As change is the only constant in life, the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn, and continuously adapt has become crucial for survival and sustainability in the education sector. The global leadership space is like a game of musical chairs; always one chair short, to eject whoever is not able to adapt fast enough. Business Schools have to get on the innovation train in order not to be left behind on the tracks.
We used to say that big fish eat small fish, today it seems that it is the fast fish that eats the slow fish. It seems to me that there is no better time for deeper collaboration between town and gown than now.
Austin Okere is the Founder of CWG Plc, the largest security in the technology sector of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at CBS, New York. Austin also serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network, and on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship. Austin now runs the Ausso Leadership Academy focused on Business and Entrepreneurial Mentorship.
Expert Blames Fundamental Flaw in IP for Cyberattacks
Dr. Adewale Obadare, co-founder, Digital Encode, has attributed activities of cyber-criminals on the super-highway to fundamental flaws in the internet protocol.
He explained that the internet is structured in a Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet protocol (TCP/IP) which is the protocol that is powering the internet.
“Unfortunately that protocol is not designed for security because internet was designed for communications but now we are using internet for a lot of things including sensitive transactions. But because of the fundamental problem of lack of security which is an afterthought for internet, cyber criminals who are aware of this basic flaw of internet are exploring that vulnerability that exists to attack.”
Obadare spoke on the calamities and tragedy that came with Covid-19, said: “What we need to understand is that with the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic, there is massive usage of internet technology. A lot of people that were not using the internet before started using it. This means that there is an increase in the usage of internet activities and so everything has become electronic.
“Looking at the dangers, we have to look at it from three perspectives namely; personal security which has to do with the end user, business security and national security.
“As a result of lockdown, a lot of individuals are working from home so there was a shift in focus for hackers to end users because they are not security conscious and their devices are vulnerable.
“From statistics there were more attacks on individual devices and government infrastructure than corporate devices during Covid-19”.
He explained further that any device can be digitally evaded if there are issues with four factors which include architecture, design, implementation and operation.
“Most of the times there is always issues with any of these four factors. It is either your architecture is bad or you have issue with your design or you have issue with the way you have implemented your technology or how you operate the device, which build inherent vulnerability within our systems and hackers take advantage of issues like these and brake into systems and cause havoc”.
Elsewhere Dr Kenneth Geers, senior fellow of the Atlantic Council and a NATO Cyber Centre ambassador has warned that organisations and critical infrastructure across the world are set to experience an increasing number of cyber- attacks, perpetrated by well-funded rogue nation states and attackers looking to disrupt operations, make money or commit industrial espionage.
He said the Coronavirus pandemic is providing cyber spies and criminals with new opportunities to gain a foothold on target computer networks via phishing and other forms of social engineering.
“We must do a better job of educating our employees and citizens about the dynamics and dangers of social engineering.
Sundiata Post Media Unveils Dealboku, eCommerce Platform
Sundiata Post Media Limited, a multimedia news platform, has launched Dealboku, its e-commerce platform.
In a statement, Max Amuchie, founder/CEO of Sundiata Post Media, said Dealboku is an idea whose “time has come”.
Amuchie said Dealboku is different from other conventional online shops where goods are sold at shelf prices, as its e-commerce platform is an online deals marketplace where merchants are made to sell same products and offer same services at a discounted price.
“We have built a robust platform that is unique in its approach to e-commerce. Both buyers and sellers are assured of excellent customer care and quality products and services at discounted prices,” he said.
According to him, “with the establishment of Dealboku, Sundiata Post has made history as the first media platform in Nigeria to go into the full e-commerce business”.
In her remarks, Hannah Atomode, Dealboku’s project consultant, said the goal of the platform is to help customers get good discounted deals to their doorsteps.
“The team has been working very hard to build a beautiful and user-friendly website. This is a platform that comprises various products and services from fashion, automobile, furniture, foods, beauty, food, Spa and wellness, hotels, online training etc,” she said.
“The payment system is not cumbersome, it is so simple and easy to use.”
Atomode added that the e-commerce platform offers three payment options, which are card payment, wallet or bank transfer.
AtaraPay Redefines e-commerce Space
AtaraPay, an online escrow service has reiterated its commitment toward redefining and enhancing cash on delivery service in Nigeria in a way that promotes trust, transparency and protects the interest of both parties.
Yemi Adebiyi, Executive Director of TrustPay Technologies Limited, made this known in a statement in Lagos, where he said the emergence of e-commerce in Nigeria has changed the way Nigerians buy and sell goods.
He said that although bias and skepticism against online shopping persist, over time more consumers have begun to embrace the concept of purchasing items online and getting them delivered at their doorstep.
He said: “The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has also made it imperative for sellers to diversify their sales channel to include an online, omnichannel strategy.”
He noted that, however, over time increased cases of internet fraud, frequent internet payment transaction failures only served to worsen the perception of customers paying online without physically inspecting the goods.
Adebiyi pointed out that as a workaround, cash-on-delivery options quickly became a popular choice with customers who preferred to double-check items in hand before paying in cash. This served as an approach to address the trust deficit and guarantee quality assurance.
He said that the introduction of escrow service by African start-ups such as AtaraPay, Paylock, Truzo has come in handy in addressing the issue of trust between buyers and sellers in a way that promotes transparency and protects the interest of both parties.
Adebiyi explained that AtaraPay’s business relationship with Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc enables it to provide a service that can be trusted and reliable enough to take away the monetary bottlenecks and resolve every crisis during transactions.
“This is a safe way to strike an equilibrium between customer and merchant credibility while eliminating fraud in the process,” he added.
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