Our Digital Economy is powered by Information Democracy - Ikedichi Egwu

Our interview today walks the talk with Ikedichi Egwu, a brand strategist, digital marketer and Public Speaker as he shares his thoughts on the subject of Digital Marketing. 



NNI: Can we meet you sir? 

Guest: Thanks for having me on your platform. I am Ikedichi Egwu, and I come from the South East part of Nigeria (Ebonyi State precisely). I am a brand strategist and digital marketer.  My journey into the world of branding dates back to when I was in 200L at the Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy, Ile-Ife. I couldn't seem to understand the philosophy driving the African entrepreneurial landscape at that time. My quest to find out stemmed the beginning of what would be later become my career as a brand strategist. Digital marketing for me is a field that encompasses all. Regardless of your industry, sales and marketing drive businesses. Also, the future is digital. Artificial Intelligence is the driving force behind major modern day innovations.
It was the above thinking framework that drove me into digital marketing. Today I have gone on to work with several brands as a digital marketer and brand strategist across the country. Currently, I work with Digital Funnel in Lagos as a brand strategist and digital marketer.
Moreover, I have travelled across several states within Nigeria speaking across multiple platforms on the subjects of branding, personal branding, digital marketing and leadership. So, I am who most persons would prefer to term a public speaker.
I was once a technical drop out from the Obafemi Awolowo University. My philosophy about life was at the core of my decision to drop out of the university while I was already in 500 Level, my final year. (Laughs.) 
Well, the good news is that I went back and decided that I would finish up my degree program eventually. By the way, we are talking about a degree in Crop Production and Protection here.


NNI: How has the entrepreneurship journey been for you so far?

Guest: The entrepreneurial journey for me has not particularly been easy. It's been filled with mistakes and lessons, like for many brands out there dipping their toes into the water. The journey, however, has been worth it.


NNI: Your emphasis on Digital Skills is strong. What is the relevance and how can individuals leverage them for growth?

Guest: Well, as I said earlier, the future is digital. In fact, the post covid-19 economy would favour brands that are digitally driven. 
Brands would want to look for ways to do things faster and achieve better outcomes. And the solutions that are going meet these needs would be digitally powered. So, your industry not withstanding you either adopt a digitally inclined approach or find your business falling behind your competition.
We are at a time in history when information is highly democratized. What this means for individuals is that there's no digital skill they set to learn that they can't grasp – be it programming; digital marketing; machine learning; IT Support etc. This would confer on the individual advantages that place them ahead of their competition.




NNI: Why do you think people are skeptical about online courses?

Guest: People are not skeptical about online courses, many Nigerians are. 
One of the reasons is the speed with which we adopt technologies. It would even be safe to say that many times we have fallen between what they term late adopters and laggards in the information diffusion process. It's a huge setback for us as it sees us crawling behind our contemporaries across the world.
In addition, while the other parts of the world are championing the digital revolution, Nigeria is still contesting leadership of a struggling regional artisan economy – a position it can barely hold on to as focus keeps shifting to its bordering counterparts who have shown a more responsible approach toward governance.


NNI: How does startup branding affect the future of digital revolution?

Guest: This is an era where digital visibility has an impact on the success of any start up – a time when relevance and visibility are like two sides of the same coin. You can only attract the business of customers who have heard about your business and or actually  seen it.
So, for a startup that's considering gaining a strategic positioning both online and offline, emphasis must be laid on visibility. 


NNI: Is it necessary for Digital Skills to be included in school curriculum? Why?

Guest: As a matter of fact, digital skills must be included in our curriculum if we must catch up with other parts of the world. The world has gone past the industrial revolution. We are talking digital now with AI, Machine Learning etc. 
You can't continue to teach students skills of the past and expect them to be relevant in the present. To me that's counter-productive.
If the problem of mass unemployment among the youths is to be dealt with, then there's the need for mass investment in human capital as it applies to what is relevant now – digitization.


NNI: Many have results to prove that digital skills do not yield actual conversions. Is there anything they are doing wrong leading to these results? 

Guest: Digital skills yield maximum conversions. In fact, programmers are amongst the highest income earners in the world at the moment.
The challenge, however, is that many persons who come into the digital world come in with the "overnight success" faulty thinking framework. But it does not work that way. You need a certain amount of mastery to begin earning big from your digital skills, and that kind of mastery requires patience and consistency.
Anyone who tries to make you believe that digital skills do not convert is deliberately hiding the truth from you. It's the new untapped oil for Nigeria.


NNI: What is your view on Global Youth Development and growth as regards the digital world? 

Guest: I would say Nigerian youths are way behind on a global index. Of course, you could argue that there are many Nigerian youths doing fine when placed side by side with their contemporaries from other parts of the world. But the question would be how many of us and at what age?
Findings would show you how we are way behind. It becomes necessary therefore for the youths to rethink their approach to life. The day I understood that my competition was global was the day my life found a deeper meaning. 


NNI: What's your believe as regards interconnected growth? Is it absolutely impossible for a brand to develop in isolation and without partnerships? 

Guest: I preach collaboration a lot. In fact, it's my belief that collaboration is the best form of competition. The damage in the country already is something one man can't correct. It's going to take collective efforts to make that happen. 
There's a limit to the number of jobs a business which exists in isolation can create. We need to come together to enjoy the economies of scale.
The digital economy worldwide is powered by the democratization of information. So if we don't come together and share intelligence, our digital growth would be slow.


NNI: Research shows that demand is making price for digital skill courses increase. This is fast becoming a problem and turning back potential students. From experience, how can this be solved?  

Guest: Well, I would rather choose to not agree with this. In fact, the demand for these skills is achieving the opposite – these courses are rather becoming cheap so more persons can get on board and acquire the skills needed to service the fast-growing demand for them. For example, there are less programmers than we need in the world today.
I began learning programming to further enhance my skills as a brand strategist and digital marketer. It may interest you to know that I have not spent as much since I began the training. As a matter of fact, most of the resource I use so far are free. There's Free Code Camp there, you don't pay a dime to learn. There's Gemn, American Internet Business School, Google and YouTube. Interestingly, Udemy has options for partial or fully funded scholarship for indigent students who may be restrained by funding from taking their courses.
So, what's more? Seriousness and the willingness to commit quality time to learning on the part of the individual.


NNI: What is your advice to fellow young individuals?

Guest: My advice is simple! Yes, the government has failed us and continues to deteriorate by the passage of each day but the responsibility is ours not to further fail ourselves. I understand that it's not easy and probably will not be in the foreseeable future. But if you will continue pushing and not doubt your abilities, there will be no limit to how much you can become.


NNI: What new heights do you hope to scale in the near future?

Guest: I am looking forward to building an inclusive digital community for all Nigerians. The goal is to grow into a household name as far the African and Nigerian digital space is concerned. Also, I look forward to more speaking invitations, but this time, from other countries across the world.


NNI: Thank you for your time.

Guest: Thanks again for having me.





   

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