It almost seems a tradition that there would be something new to discuss each time I visit Zone Tech Park’s beautiful space in Gbagada, Lagos. The last time I visited, it was a serene experience that evoked poignant emotions which tugged at my perspective. The space is still as beautiful, the occasion was still as grand and the environment still held an airy personality fit enough to charm its ways into a hardened heart —– till it was not.
The occasion was the Google Partner Nigeria Launch, an initiative that aims to structure the ecosystem within which Digital Marketers operate. It seems a great idea, having been proven since they established at South Africa in 2014. Why they are doing that just now in Nigeria, I have no idea. The hall was packed to the brim as expected – it is indeed, a Google Event. I also found the Ankara and ayo opon Google has managed to squeeze in its brand appearance quite alluring.
I sat through a stat-filled presentation by Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor who is the Country Director and a brief but effective lecture by Barene Jankovich-Besan, the Group Account Director. We had a little break and I drowned 4 cubes of sugar in a small cup of coffee, the healthy part of me would claim I miscalculated, however, the part of me that indulges will differ. I hadn’t eaten all day and I sat by my lonesome self, who can this writer possibly network with?
The break was immediately followed by a Panel Discussion and this was where things got quite interesting. As expected, the panelists were the Big Boys in the field that dragged huge sacks of experience with them. The kind of people that would cause budding Digital Marketers to stutter during this ‘networking’ thing people keep talking about. Eyitayo Oluyemi sat at the extreme left and was flanked, to his right by Tolu Onile-Ere. Ayode Akinfemiwa sat in the middle as the moderator and to his right was Mark Slade. Buki Osunyeke sat at the extreme. Quite prolific personalities, google them!
The discussion was smooth, the panelists took great care not to disagree with eachother. Either that, or the topic chosen was a non-controversial one that doesn’t exactly toe the line of extreme opinions. However, it was quite engaging, even inspiring I must say as Eyitayo offhandedly doled out words on marble I clutched with zest.
They opened the door to questions and a young man from CISCO took to the microphone. He was answered swiftly and the door was swung open again. This time, a charismatic lady took the gauntlet. I knew she was charismatic because she wore a leather jacket and earlier, she held under her arms a Motorcycle helmet and laughed a little louder than the others during the break. I noticed her.
She introduced herself as Zegbua (Ized), the convener of the largest collective of the Digital Marketers (DigiClan) in the country. There were yelps in the audience, proving indeed her claim might be true. She pitches a curve ball to the Panelists, asking them why there is no open source location to source analytics. She asks why young Digital Marketers have to make the same mistakes the experienced ones made early in their career. Why they hoard onto their data, refusing to let others share. Her question was simple… why? But beyond the simplicity of the question, the approach was daring, almost confrontational and it received its fair share of ‘ooohhhhs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ from the people. It seemed the panelists were more or less caught off guard.
Buki answered the question first, opening up with a joke about Ized’s approach in a bid to douse the tension. She takes a diplomatic route, saying that a system has never really been set up to approach the problem and extended a collaborative hand to Ized and her horde of Digital marketers. Olayemi also took a stab at the answer but he stutters a little bit too much, losing the crowd and his stance at the same time. Ized pressed a little further and it became evident it was rather confrontational than conversational.
The issue of data is a dicey one, the whole of 2018 has had the world suddenly realizing they had given Zuckerberg an unmitigated access to their lives and it has had them scampering to salvage the little privacy they can while balancing their addiction to his services. We are more or less just understanding how to manage data and deal with it. However, one fact is apparent… data is the new oil.
Information transfer is a prerequisite for development, this is exactly why man only had to discover once that striking two stones together would make fire. The experienced, holding on to knowledge will surely stunt extrapolated growth. Having a greater number of Digital marketers in the country starting from the ground up is detrimental to progress. To move forward, Digital Marketers need this data, this knowledge and these analytics. Sharing User data, Company specifics and personal information might be illegal, but insights, methodologies and consumer data should be available to budding Agencies. To Ized’s credit, it might have seemed hypocritical for these personalities to declare their interest in helping the scenery while their actions proved otherwise.
Indeed, this is not a perfect world and these corporate bodies invest millions to farm the data they currently have. Ized’s question and perspective is quite noble and ideal, however, it seems this issue has not been properly addressed. The question has probably never been raised and the panelists had never dealt with it. But should they be told before they share? Black House Media, a PR body publishes a comprehensive whitepaper review in its field every year, providing a reliable path for budding PR Agencies. Maybe Ized was asking these representatives to toe the same path.
It is apparent that there is a gaping hole in the ecosystem, there is no hub that actively takes on the duty to gather data and analytics that might benefit Digital marketers and until this hole has been filled, enquiries made and rejected, confronting the panelists is never the best way.
The tension in the room was promptly doused and we dispersed as quickly as we huddled. The Google Partner event, however left me thinking about data handling and its apparent importance and when necessary, its consequences. It also left me brooding about how easy it is to get the table turned around against you for the simplest of reasons. Fighting the great cause requires a thorough thought process and putting your best foot forward at all times. But all in all, Zegbua definitely made an impression on everyone present. I only hope it was indelible.