Photo credit: Graham Carlow/Feature Photo Service for IBM : (From Left to Right) Dr. James Mwangi, Chairman & CEO of Equity Bank Kenya IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, CEO of Galaxy Backbone Nigeria, Mr. Edward Effah, CEO of Fidelity Bank Ghana.
About 100 business leaders from across Africa gathered at IBM's Smarter Planet Leadership Forum in Nairobi, Kenya for a dialogue with IBM senior executives about taking advantage of big data and disruptive shifts to support the continent's growth.
The event followed the CIO Leadership Exchange in Johannesburg, where IBM convened Chief Information Officers from across South Africa.
Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, who opened the vibrant session articulated paradigm shifts happening in the world which includes what she described as a “new era of computing upon which the world would operate that will bring in a new era of society”. She detailed the new cognitive era of computing that is emerging and the ever increasing volume, velocity, variety and veracity of data. The proliferation of mobile and social media is disrupting how people want to interact with businesses, and businesses must radically transform to seize the opportunity.
"The new era will be here. It will change society. It will make business compete on the basis of data. It will therefore change the way we live and work. And, we will reimagine our roles as leaders and the value that we can bring," Ginni said. She then described how these paradigm shifts are creating opportunities for transforming healthcare, energy, marketing and more. For Africa, this means the opportunity to leapfrog how industries and professions operate in other parts of the world.
Edward Effah, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Group, reinforced the opportunity that data presents by saying, "In very practical terms, data has transformed our business. Three years ago we got a report on the Ghana census and we were surprised to see that, contrary to what we thought, a lot of Ghanaians were living in places with different demographics, with different levels of income. And that had a very big impact on how we rolled out our infrastructure to the different markets."
Dr. James Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Equity Bank and Chairman, Equity Group Foundation, said that Africa has the opportunity to be the biggest beneficiary of these paradigm shifts, as it is not bound by legacy systems and can focus on building systems that leverage big data.
This is the first time IBM's senior leadership team — 17 senior leaders, including Chairman Ginni Rometty have travelled together in Africa to meet with clients, partners and employees.