Greg Malize is the founder/executive director of ImpactGen, a visionary foundation that brings together like-minded millennials, who are driven by passion for impact, enterprise development, innovation and growth. Malize speaks with Kunle Aderinokun at the recently-concluded ImpactGen TechnInnovation Summit on the emergence of technology and the changes that technology is driving in businesses today. Excerpts:
Technology is arguably the greatest force driving change in today’s economy. What are the implications for enterprise?
Technology plays a key role in enterprise development and management today. It has become very critical to the operations that businesses are hugely dependent on it. With the degree of dependency on technology, most business will experience a collapse, if technology is taken away from their operations.
The level of dependency on technology for businesses cut across basic research, product development, production, sales and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Both small and big businesses rely on one form of technology or the other. Technology is starting to drive the pace of change in the job market. Besides keeping some roles redundant, technology would determine the kind functions and roles available.
So how has technology changed human behaviour? With human capital at the core of businesses, what are the imperatives for organisations?
Technology has become very influential in the way we live our lives today. No matter the industry or sector everyone is experiencing an immense change in the way they engage. With technology, the productivity level for an average person has increased both with work and personal goals. The future workplace might not be a physical workplace or an open plan office like we experience today. It could be remotely connected systems and “workspaces” that are virtually connected even in different various regions.
A large pool of millennials has already joined or are preparing to join the workforce. The millennial have been raised in the midst of the revolution technology has brought. These changes are capable of affecting the way that businesses and employees engage.
In seeking to maximise the potentials of the millennials, which have become a major pool of the workforce in most enterprise today, businesses need to be adaptable to the new ways to maximise the inherent potentials.
The core focus of the ImpactGen Technology Summit is innovation. How critical has innovation mind-set become for businesses? How do enterprises remain ahead in an era of stiff competition such as today?
Companies that are prepared to break new grounds must understand that the major source of their innovation power lies in the mind of its employees. Organisations that empower and keep their employees equipped to discover new opportunities often times record a high capacity for innovation.
In developing an innovation mind-set, businesses should take strategic and deliberate steps in building that up. One way is to have sufficient flexibility to query the status quo. “Normal ways” cannot be “leading ways” in spotting innovation opportunities. Another way is encouraging collaboration and creative tension. Internal competition is as good as market competition. It is critical to mix up teams from different areas on projects and see how ideas and opportunities spark up.
To find smart solutions, we must think differently. Organisations should endeavor to encourage and reward creative thinking. They must be methodical about building and stimulating creative habits. Again remember this is what the millennials are about. They are about creativity, flexibility, collaboration and teamwork. These inherent skills in the millennials must therefore be positively harnessed and maximised for positive impact for enterprises.
Innovation, they say, is vital in a digitally-driven world like we experience today. What are the links between innovation and economic growth?
Innovation and technology transfer are the key drivers of economic growth in today’s world. Innovation drives economic growth. From the steam engines to search engines, the quest for innovation has driven the new opportunities we experience today.
The countries and regions that lead in driving technology and innovation are also the world’s economic leaders today. For them, technology and innovation were key growth factors and that has given them enormous advantage over others.
The ‘ImpactGen Tech Innovation Summit’ sounds clearly differentiated and dynamic. What was the focus of the recent Summit?
The theme of the ImpactGen Summit is, ‘Leading Growth through Technology Innovation’. Like we noted earlier, today, technology has penetrated into virtually all areas of life. We are at a phase where people engage differently with their friends and family; even consumers engage very differently with the brands they consume. All of this is owing to the growing power of connectivity through an explosion of new technology tools. With this rise of technology and the innovative breakthroughs in Payment, Medicine, E-lending etc., there is a new shift that has impacted lifestyles.
The ImpactGen Tech Innovation Summit was focused on consolidating new knowledge and best practice across diverse areas with a view to aid innovation and drive enterprise development. The summit was designed to equip the participants who are largely millennials with contemporary trends and skills relevant in delivering positive impact in their organisations or personal enterprises. Other opportunities from the summit came in form of networking as participants had the opportunity of one-on-one engagement with industry leaders and experts in diverse fields.
Given the speakers’ line up and the profile of participants, this seems like a well thought-out and broad-based programme? How did you achieve the recorded success with the summit?
The summit was, no doubt, a huge success. It exceeded expectations in terms of attendance, with a broad based participation from diverse background.
We give a lot of credit to the summit planning team made of the members of the ImpactGen Foundation core team for their selfless commitment to the planning process.
There were a series of presentations by subject matter experts. The summit speakers line up was rich and constituted individuals with proven track records of performance. They were led by Mr. Mitchel Elegbe, the managing director/CEO of Interswitch Nigeria Limited as the keynote speaker. Beyond the millennials, who were the core target of the summit, every one benefitted from the great learning that came from the summit and equally important, the networking opportunities that the platform offered.
A lot of work went into putting together the truly unique programme, which addressed the opportunities in technology and innovation and we are very proud of the outing and the impact therein.
What is the driving force for setting up ImpactGen? What is the key focus? Can you give some background to your vision? Why the emphasis on millennials?
Impact Gen is a foundation founded by millennials for millennials. It is committed to creating programmes for engagement, learning and networking that foster positive impact amongst millennials. We are driven by our vision of raising a generation of impactful youth as future growth catalysts. We develop programmes and create platforms that drive thought-provoking interactions amongst the youth making them impactful leaders and growth engines of the future. Our programmes facilitate knowledge sharing, practical toolkits and the appropriate environment for technology innovation, enterprise development, leadership development and social impact.
We believe that a positive shift in attitudes fostered by productive engagement with thought leaders and other millennials in various fields is a precursor to the level of self-development and dynamism required for impactful leadership. Therefore, with the right experiences and positive exposure, the millennials would be equipped with appropriate tools that enable them develop innovative solutions to society’s problems.
Most brilliant programmes such as this are usually concentrated in just one part of the country; Lagos is thereby depriving the greater population the opportunities it portends, how do you plan to take this to millennials across the country and outside of Lagos?
It is clearly different for us at ImpactGen. We understand the fact that the strong youth population of the nation is not restricted to any single region. We understand that today’s young adults have distinctive characteristics like no generation before them. We have developed programmes that are innovatively designed to reach this group beyond regions.
They include knowledge-based programmes such as seminars, workshops, summits, exhibitions, technology and innovation fairs, mentorship networks etc. These platforms would be replicated across the keys regions of the nation. We would also reach the much younger ones through our on-campus programmes developed to start molding them up early in life.
How do you plan to sustain the success? What strategies would help to drive this vision forward and continuously?
We have built a very strong and sustainable structure that would keep us focused and value driven. The ImpactGen Advisory Board is made up of individuals of repute who are industry thought leaders with proven track record of performance. They support in shaping our initiatives through strategic direction and selfless commitment to the programmes. We continuously deepen and develop new relationships with key strategic partners whose vision of impact amongst the core target aligns with our vision. Their constant support makes it possible to execute our programmes. Our core team at ImpactGen is made up of very visionary millennials with passion for excellence, development and impact. They understand the vision and are selflessly committed to the goals of shaping a generation of impactful youths as future growth catalysts.
These structures were designed to see that we remain focused and committed in driving our vision and so far we have recorded tremendous success maximising them.