Barriers to cloud computing adoption in Nigeria
Since the turn of the 21st century, Business and Technology have like Siamese twins become inseparable. Like the chicken and egg predicament, it has become difficult to determine which one can survive without the other. In today’s modern global village, where profit maximization (revenue increase / cost reduction) is an essential performance indicator upon which business successes are measured, it is no coincidence that business executives in Nigeria have developed an insatiable appetite for technology in order to drive and transform their businesses.
Over the last two to three decades, there have been major evolutions in business technology ranging from personal computers storage space to the internet speed, software and hardware convergence, internet trading to payment etc. with each resulting in quantum changes in terms of productivity / efficiency. Cloud computing is the next logical step in that evolution – Cloud computing is simply a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction (Mell, 2009).
The cloud provides solutions through which businesses can access applications and services, without the associated hassle and costs of owning and managing the hardware. Cloud computing services are often provided by third parties, with users gaining access to the services over the Internet or intranet. Some of the key benefits of cloud technology include reduced capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX).
Generally, there are three main options for deploying cloud technology. The first option is the on-premise or often referred to as private cloud, where the technology resides on the company’s premises but can be managed and supported remotely. The second option is the off-site hosting of a business technology also called public cloud, where the technology and service support are provided off-site by specialist providers from a remote location. Whilst the third option is referred to as the Hybrid Cloud, as it is a combination of both public and private cloud options.
In recent years many first-tier Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and System Integrators (SI) around the world have been promoting business support cloud computing offerings on a pay-as-you use or on-demand in form of Software/Infrastructure/Database as a service (SaaS/IaaS/DBaaS). Although these services, in which subscribers can simply buy into using a software or infrastructure or database instead of owning them outrightly, are still largely alien to indigenous Nigerian companies but appear to be gaining grounds in Europe and America.
While cloud computing has received good reviews and huge acceptance in developed countries, backed up by the respective governments, the uptake in developing countries like Nigeria remains comparatively low as indigenous businesses find it difficult to overcome their reluctance and resistance towards having their technology assets hosted and managed by third parties and this course is also not being helped by other environmental factors either.
The reluctance and paranoia for cloud computing are all too common across most business sectors in Nigeria. For example, it is estimated that well over 90% of Nigeria’s Financial Services Institutions (FSI) are still deeply rooted in the belief of hosting and maintaining their own technological infrastructure, systems and applications as against buying into cloud services. Whereas in Europe, almost 75% of the FSI (ec.europa.eu/…/final-report-study-smart-20130043-uptake-cloud-europe) have their technologies reside in the cloud, freeing up their capital for further investment in their business thereby reporting decent shareholders’ value. Without doubt, Nigeria, like most African countries has some catching up to do.
In spite of huge efforts from prominent OEMs and SIs to promote Cloud Computing in Nigeria, uptake continues to be met with lukewarm reception, primarily fueled by fears that the data held in the cloud are not safe.
Also, historical infrastructural challenges such as poor internet service quality, erratic electricity supply, complicated legal framework, fear of not wanting to be the first to go are also some of the militating factors. These reasons slows down the adoption of cloud technology in Nigeria thus denying the country of vital growth opportunities and revenue gains, skills development, job creation, competitiveness etc.
The fact remains that efforts from international and local OEMs and SIs to promote cloud services offerings as standard pay-as-you use services continues to recorded low success rates regardless of attempts made by local scholars and academicians to articulate the benefits of cloud computing. Their white papers have largely been left to gather dust as businesses are only watching the space for who will go first and be guinea-pigged.
Clearly, more needs to be done to encourage widespread adoption of cloud in the Nigeria in order to tap into the endless benefits. In this writer’s view, the onus of driving cloud adoption should not only rest with businesses but also with the national and local governments, telecommunication companies, technology manufacturers etc. Surely, all stakeholders have important roles to play in order to make Nigerian businesses cloud-friendly.
For more information on cloud computing you may visit www.accenture.com/us-en/cloud-index
Accenture offers a wide variety of cloud services and has the skills and global experience required to help companies deploy and benefit from cloud services.
Ogunjobi is a senior manager in Accenture.