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This article was written by Office Apps and Services MVP Oluwawumiju Oluwaseyi as part of the Humans of IT Guest Bloggers series. He shares about how users can leverage Microsoft solutions to develop community training and help spread coronavirus awareness in Nigeria.
I once read a quote online, from Xerox, which stated that the digital disruption was remaking the modern enterprise. Today, a radical rethinking of technology and processes is helping fuel unprecedented innovation and growth for organizations bold enough to break with the past.
Below are some of the key benefits of technology that have greatly helped many enterprises today:
- Boosting innovation: The ability to classify, search, analyze, and mine digital documents for business intelligence insights can help foster innovation and drive competitive advantage for companies
- Increased security: With technology, we can now secure critical data in ways that were not previously possible with legacy paper documents. Users can now apply policy-driven integrity, confidentiality, and compliance controls to digitize documents and safeguard their organization’s most critical and sensitive information.
- Enhance efficiency: Digitization lets you redefine workflows. Sharing, forwarding and collaborating with digital documents helps drive down costs, ramps up productivity, speeds up decision-making and changes the way business gets done.
Learning to be adaptable in the midst of a pandemic
The first case of COVID-19 in Lagos, Nigeria struck in March. This greatly rattled the country, causing the local government to seriously evaluate its strategy to combat the disease and resulted in swift action to lock down the state, and eventually the entire country. This is important, because the value of the society is usually based on its ability to mitigate and rise above setbacks – including a pandemic.
Technology helps keep us connected as humans
All around the world, we saw stories of how technology has not only helped people keep in contact with family, friends and loved ones via e-mail and free VoIP calls (Microsoft Teams included!), they were also able to continue to access and manage their finances through online banking apps, spreadsheets, track investments through online brokers, and even pursue new hobbies like genealogy or gardening with specialized software packages. Technology has also helped children have uninterrupted learning while quarantining and social distancing at home. Nigeria is no exception. However, without the right skills in the local community, the benefits of technology cannot be fully reaped.
Well, that is where our story begins. Reaching the grassroot communities and helping amplify the voices of everyday was what we set out to achieve. The Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT) community leads in Lagos, Nigeria rallied together and committed to a 2-month intensive virtual training covering various aspects of different Microsoft products. We knew that this would be time-consuming and requiring extensive resources and courage, but we pushed on with the end goal to set a precedence that we can make our society better in spite of the barriers faced.
We primarily focused on the below key areas during this period, in a bid to cover as much ground as possible:
- Azure / Cloud Technology
- Microsoft 365
- Dynamics 365
- Power BI
- Power Platform
- Data and AI
- Programming – DevOps
We also enlisted the help of our Microsoft Student Partner Network (now known as the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador program) in Nigeria to help further engage students in universities.
The team was just awesome! The team comprised of men and women including:
- Deji Afolarin, Ahmed Oyewole, Michael Olafusi and Ahmed Adewale / Power BI and Power Platform
- Toriola Olajumoke / M365
- Paul Oyemakinwa / Azure
- Hammad Abulazeez / Dynamics 365
- Foyin Olajide-Bello / Power Platform and Power Apps
- Olanna Ogbenna / Data & AI and Developers
- Lanre Macaulay / Security
One of our members, Kazeem Adegboyega even helped garner media attention to raise awareness of these technical training and education efforts by talking about the value of all the offerings on a University radio station. Dara Oladapo brought light to programming by running a series for developers on Twitter TV, finally, Olumide Ogundare also ran various trainings for students.
Here’s an example of an online webinar we conducted:
Our goal was to:
- Empower people in the tech industry to be better problem solvers
- Realize that at every step of the way, we will encounter issues but the key is in how to overcome these issues and keep moving forward
Here are more examples of tech-focused User Groups in Nigeria, led by various local MCT leads:
The final goal was to boost collaboration and innovation. We set out to help make technology be much less frustrating for users by helping them to grasp key concepts and understand it. After all, technology is way less frustrating if you understand how it works. Understanding tech can help people be independent and benefit from the advantage of having a much better choice of employers and get better jobs for themselves to provide for their families.
We also wanted to help develop better tech leaders with the emphasis of also giving back and helping others in their community. What good is technology if you don’t share the benefits of it?
Lastly, let’s not forget our younger generation (i.e future technologists) as well – our student community show a lot of promise and potential. They even built COVID-19 awareness bots! Truly, there is no limit to what we can achieve as a community.
Here’s a short story from Olumide about the COVID-19 awareness bots:
We, the Microsoft Student Partners community in the University of Lagos, Nigeria noticed the following problems in our local community:
- A lot of people were ignorant of the symptoms and causes of COVID-19
- People are scared as they don’t even know if they have the virus or not and if they do, they don’t know what next steps to take
- People lack general awareness about how to prevent contracting the virus
- People needed some sort of assurance to stem deep fear and reduce public anxiety
So we came up with a chatbot hosted on web view and Facebook, built with Microsoft Bot Framework and LUIS. We hosted it on Microsoft Azure, and were able to gather data from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control). This bot will asks you a few questions about your symptoms, and tells you your likelihood of having the virus, precautions, and critical next steps including seeking professional medical help as needed.
- We had over 5,000 hits per day and got positive feedback as to how it was really helpful to users
- Users were educated on precautions to take via simple and intuitive user interfaces of the bot
- Users were relieved of the fear of the unknown as they now know their chances of having the virus based on their existing symptoms
- People with the virus now know the next steps to take, and how to take important precautions to protect others around them and prevent them from contracting the virus as well
The impact of COVID-19 was very challenging, but the role of technology at this time could not be overemphasized. Much of the world was caught by surprise when the virus struck, but we found the strength to pull things together to help encourage and bring sanity to our society. We are thankful to be healthy and alive, and will do what we can to leverage tech to also help keep others in our local community safe.
The lesson in all this is that if technology is leveraged well, it can create bonds, collaboration, and the ability to positively impact lives, bridge social divides and help create level-playing fields for people from all social backgrounds.
The sense of collaboration become very essential and needed in the digital space. The ability of the Microsoft team to meet expectations in this unplanned wave was laudable, showcasing the indomitable and resilient spirit of determination inherent in us Africans.
I hope this article inspired you. Trust me, you will never regret learning how to handle problems efficiently by applying problem-solving skills to build solutions. These are life skills that will stay with you forever. Not even a pandemic can stop the tremendous innovation and solution-building in Africa! Keep on using tech for good, and you will be surprised to find out how much positive impact you can have when you band together as a community.
Connect with Oluwaseyi
Name: Oluwaseyi Oluwawumiju
About the Writer
Oluwawumiju Oluwaseyi is a Technical Consultant with Convenant Technologies and he also an MCT, MVP, and the MCT Regional Lead for Nigeria. Convenant Technologies is a Certified Partner with Microsoft in Lagos, Nigeria. You can also learn more about him via his MVP Profile.
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.