Google Nigeria is here and gone. The people we met and the moment we shared will stay for a long time to come. There were those we were meeting for the first time and those we have known. It was a fantastic moment to also network with new folks.
What were the High points for me during G|Nigeria? If I am to share the G|nigeria Experience, I will share it from different perspectives and it will be a rather long post. Since I am not ready to bore you, let me start by first sharing with you the highlights of yesterday’s event.
Note: It is about 1,500 word long.
The Keynote was given by Nelson Mattos. He shared the vision of Google for Sub-Saharan Africa and mentioned that it is top priority to get as many people connected to the web as possible—helping to reduce barriers facing potential internet users, making the internet relevant and useful to Nigerians via product localisation, support for languages, mapping and more and strengthening the internet ecosystem in Nigeria and across Africa by nurturing the local developer community.
I think they have started laying the pipes already and there is evidence on ground in Nigeria that shows that they are already doing that. You’d read more about that in one of the sessions that I found most exciting—the Google App for Education.
Next, there was a presentation on Google plus and what makes Google plus a bang. Lanre Aina mentioned an awesome conversation he had with his niece in an airport on one occasion. As excited as he is about the experience, he wanted to share it with other, but not everybody. He went on to Google plus, since he captured the conversation on video with his phone, and selected close family members and shared the video with them. Google plus has that feature, and you can share with people in specific circles, or select certain emails of folks you’d like to share with. Well, this feature is not exclusive to Google Plus, I must say. You can do that on Facebook as well.
I missed the coffee break, shame. I was busy trying to set up my PC and battle with the internet connection that was on and off. The next set of session had my stomach singing and dancing. But I made it through the next few sessions before it was Lunch.
Get Nigeria Businesses Online was the next session. For many Nigerian businesses who are yet to take the leap and expand the reach of their business by going online, this session was primarily made for them. Though there have been fear and comments by some website developers that Google is going to kill the business of website developers and corner everything, I think it is a free business and the market is large for all to share in. In line with what Mattos said, that getting more people connected and using the web is one of their visions, GNBO is just one of the tools they are using. There a great number of Nigerians using the web already, these ones need to hear with ease about many of the businesses that are yet to embrace the web as a tool to showcase their business. A few success stories were shared.
In one hall was Google Trader and another hall was about Google Apps and reseller programme. The session on Google Apps was handled by an authorised reseller agent for Google in Nigeria—DESCASIO.
Google Apps is a product that has been available for a while now. Only a few people are using it. It is a product offered by Google that allows businesses to have access to web based email, calendar and documents for teams. Why Google apps? It is cheap; it allows your documents, email, contact and calendar to be available with you always as long as you have a device connected to the internet—mobile and web.
There are cases of lost phones and computers. In this case, all documents saved using Google docs, which is a part of the Google app, is safe and secure. Plus, you can work with your documents from any computer connected to the internet. To find out more about it in Nigeria DESCASIO will be your go to company in Nigeria. There is the free version and the paid version. The limit placed on the number of users you can have on the free version is not placed on the paid. For more on Google apps go to Google app on the web
I was blown away by the offering of Google app for education.
I mentioned this above. One of the means Google is trying to reduce the barriers against use of internet. With the partnership that Google have going on with universities like University of Lagos, University of Benin, Covenant University and others, they are opening a great opportunity for higher institution and helping them cut cost. The edge that schools have when they deploy the Google app for education is that they save. It is free for the schools. There was mention of opportunity for business folks to see how they can partner with Google in helping to evangelise the uniqueness of the product to more school. The ability to have a web based server and the different collaboration tools makes Google plus app for education a goody goodie. And it is FREE!
Another session that is of huge interest is the webmaster tool. The focus was on how split testing can improve the performance of your website. Every websites have a goal. Once you set your goal, you can try different means to achieve the goal, from text to video and pictures you can see the level of interaction that it generates. To measure this, the Google webmaster tool will help you. Then there was the explanation of how YouTube can be leveraged by businesses and brands. Google plus pages was also given a push.
But I wondered and asked on Twitter who uses Google Plus and I got many people saying they have accounts there but hardly use it. Some businesses that were in the audience expressed their concern about moving their business to Google Plus especially when Facebook is already huge. What will they benefit by going to Google Plus page, they asked? The answer given was not concrete enough. Your users should determine where you spend your resources, I think.
I believe the Googlers have a mandate to push the Google plus product as deeply as they can. I have an account there but I use it sparingly to share with my friends who are techies. Will the SMS update option and Google message to mobile phone increase the adoption of Google plus in Nigeria? Time will tell.
The event came to a wrap with the business panel. Oduntan of Twinpine and Naura James a venture capitalist was on the panel. Naura james mentioned that the venture capital fund is primarily meant for technology startups as they have high rate of return on investment. It is the appropriate fund for startups as the interest rate of the bank is not going to be affordable and sustainable. For startups, it is time you take an interest into venture capital funds as an option if you are looking to finance your project instead of going to the banks.
That was it. It was a lovely day and it all went fine. I believe most of the attendees were glad they came. From the comments on Twitter and Google Plus, many not present wish they had made it.
Enjoy the picture highlight below.
Christian Purefoy; Battabox
A view outside the venue: Civic Centre, Lagos
Lola Masha, a Googler and me. She was explaining a Google product to me.