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SMEs must leverage technology for growth in new normal – John Obaro

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John Obaro
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With businesses around the world continuing to grapple with the realities of a disrupted landscape on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, they must adopt and apply technology in new ways if they are to thrive in the new normal.

John Obaro, founder and managing director of SystemSpecs, a leading financial and human capital technology firm shared this perspective at a recent MTN REVV Masterclass aimed at providing SMEs with access to new markets, productivity support and business advisory services.

Emphasising the positive correlation between technology deployment and productivity optimisation, Obaro highlighted the need for small businesses to leverage everyday technology in new ways to enhance the various aspects of their operations for value creation, team building and superior returns. “We must not underplay the role of technology for optimal performance especially during the growth phase of businesses where it is important to keep costs low, operations lean, creativity at its highest and customers excited,” he said. According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic offers enormous opportunities to SMEs to reimagine and recreate their businesses, leveraging online technologies as well as engaging customers beyond the pre-COVID norms.

Drilling down to the issue of team-building and people management in the new normal, he advised small businesses to leverage technology to build a family-like atmosphere within the workforce to deepen teamwork, trust, and ultimately increased productivity. “The basic thing for me from the outset is that relationships matter. You hire right and relate well with your employees.

You need to create a work atmosphere where people are free to make mistakes and learn from them. I have always placed emphasis on giving them (employees) the kind of freedom that they need. Building that trust in a relationship is important. “As an SME, it gives you an opportunity to really get personal; as you grow bigger, it probably becomes more difficult, as you would need to get more structured. And of course that comes with different challenges,” Obaro added.

He advised that small businesses should be careful to employ people that buy into the organisational vision because an employee without passion for the business would be counterproductive.

Speaking further, Obaro whose software company developed Remita, HumanManager and Paylink said as SMEs grow beyond early stages, they would need to pay more attention to employee issues such as performance management, compensation, capacity development, career progression amongst others.

Other notable panellists who featured at the masterclass include Bolaji Olagunju, founder, Workforce Group and Owners Institute; Adora Ikwuemesi, founder, Kendor Consulting; Chichi Ojeme, HR expert and entrepreneur; and Esther Akinnukawe, Chief Human Resource Officer of MTN Nigeria. The session was moderated by the acting Executive Secretary of MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanyo.

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