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Generational Dynamics

This Space is For Sale

This Space is For Sale

Generational Dynamics

Eizu Uwaoma

The future at this point isn’t technology anymore as a concept

Scientifically, a generation is an average of 25.5 years. So in a century of 100 years, the world is known to resets itself, and the direct effect of that is a shift in business models, career paths and the human capital pattern. In just one century, we’ve moved from the mechanicals to electrical and electronics again, with the last 25 years seeing more of internet and programming being the major career paths for young people. 

Locally, no one saw Interswitch, Flutterwave, IrokoTV, Jobberman or even Andela revolutionise their industries. Globally, who ever thought the biggest companies in the world would come out of nowhere in just ten years and take over companies that have been in existence for centuries. The Likes of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook are already amongst the first trillion-dollar companies the world has ever seen.

Other than politics, individuals who control every generation economically usually come from those who leverage on the industrial dynamics of that generation. This is directly reflective on the current Forbes list as we have more tech billionaires in it than ever. It’s just the days we are in. According to the Pareto’s 80:20 Principles, 80 percent of the wealth and power of any generation will always be owned by less than 20 percent of that generation. The remaining 80 percent will work for and be controlled by the minority 20 percent. The good news is, the people and trend are reshuffled every 25.5 years. Now more than ever, Nigeria hasn’t been left out of that trend.

From CcHUB to Flutterwave, to Interswitch to Andela, we see how these fast rising firms all come from the same trend. But, as that rush comes, just like every other rush and torrent, it bursts its channel. It’s sort of a quadratic curve of the law of diminishing returns. The need rises, and then there is a supply, then an oversupply that crashes the market almost suddenly too.  The most practical example of this is what is leading to the shrinking of the Andela workforce in recently. The market seems to, all of a sudden, be going through an oversupply of tech talents, both locally and internationally.

A direct manifestation of this law of diminishing returns on skill oversupply has been seen in the past weeks through the draw back on the Andela Business Model. In the five years since it was founded, Andela’s business model of training and outsourcing junior developers to global companies around the world saw it become a champion for local computer engineering talent across. And now they are laying off staff as they cant find enough placement for all of them. In the words of the chief executive Jeremy Johnson. “We haven’t been able to scale remote, junior placements, in part because boot camps and CS programs have grown rapidly over the past years”. My advice is that they ask how can they satisfy the taste for efficiency on those that they supply talents to.

Now to the students and professionals of the tech space mainly made up of millennials, there is something that the current millennial, learning how to code as a buzz career path, is missing out. And that is the ability to solve problems in isolation with the skills they have. This current generation mainly of centennials and millennials are the ones that took a deep dive into the Internet. They literally live there. But they really don’t understand systems, thinking enough to apply that skill of programming or even social media engagements, to solving social problems without a big organisational based framework. If there is anything missing right now in our local ecosystems, it will be that. What the market is asking for are not just those with programming skills, but social disruption and revolutionary application of that skill.

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The future at this point isn’t technology anymore as a concept. It belongs only to businesses set up to revolutionise their industry using technology as an application. In a world where most basic inventions have been achieved, Disruptive Innovation is the concept to study, especially in relation to technology. The future isn’t for sophisticated technology, so simplify yours. In this emerging generation, people don’t have time and don’t want to be bothered to do critical thinking, especially millennials and digital natives. Use data to know where your market and data will be.

The two drawbacks to technology-driven career paths would be its over supply. Another would be it not being efficient enough for small businesses (which make up a large chunk of Africa and even Nigeria) to hire. Also simplicity is another challenge. Technology, user experiences and information immunity from the syndrome of information overload is a side effect of this generation’s consumption of technology and data. Naturally, every customer gets edgier, lazier and more price conscious with time. The antidote will be convenience and cost saving for him.  Andela hasn’t been able to crack that code with how they supply the market. The market needs a cheaper alternative to tech labour. And they’d get it. Whoever can’t supply that will be on a decline. This concept is in the heart of Disruptive Innovation. Staying relevant means being disruptively innovative. There are different types of innovations, but there is one that cuts cycle time and cost for the customer.  That’s what Prof Clayton of the Harvard Business School defines as Disruptive Innovation.  

Disruptive Innovation is when a company (most times startups) produces and eventually masters the marketing of products that seems to be simpler, superior and more affordable than the prior products in the marketplace, thereby creating a new value network. It’s mostly by the newcomers. At this point, these underdogs take a neglected marketplace that the incumbent leader isn’t interested in because its focus is to make better products at a better price for profit. While they are it, the underdog sneaks up and takes them out. Disruptive Innovation is a strategy game of the underdog. And the current tech space market is in hunger for this.

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