Simon Bromfield

Territory Manager, Autodesk Africa, Mr. Simon Bromfield, who was in Nigeria for the Autodesk Future Forum, spoke with Emma Okonji on the need for different sectors of the economy to adopt emerging technologies for business growth. Excerpts:


What is your view about Nigeria’s manufacturing industry?

One of the challenges about Nigeria’s manufacturing industry is the issue of doing things in silos instead of through collaboration and integration. Everyone wants to control his or her business and they do not want to share ideas with others. Nigerians need to work together to build better projects and that is the secret of global industries because they share ideas and build on existing ideas that are workable. The more people share contents and ideas, the more they expand their ideas and ways of doing things, which is the best form to achieve growth faster in business.

Looking at technology for the future, what will be your advice for individuals and organisations that are using technology to drive their businesses?

There is need for Africans and Nigerians to leapfrog technology to grow businesses. My candid advice is that individuals and organisations must not go back to relearn everything. The best way to leapfrog is to study what other developed countries have done with technology like Russia and China among others and use them to move ahead.

Nollywood is a fast-growing industry in Nigeria in the area of entertainment. Do you have technology solutions that could make the industry address its challenges as it develops rapidly?

We have solutions for the entertainment industry like the Nollywood industry. We produce 3D modelling and modelling technology. Nollywood being a fast-growing entertainment industry in the world, is something that Autodesk is interested in helping to further develop, while addressing its challenges. There are lots of jobs that could be generated from the use of 3D animation and we will like to encourage the Nollywood industry to take advantage of 3D modeling and animation. We have companies already employing thousands of people through the use of 3D animation in the entertainment industry. It is an opportunity for Nollywood and for Nigeria to take advantage of it to further grow the entertainment industry.



Autodesk recently organised a forum in Nigeria. What was it all about?

The Autodesk forum is an event that we take around the world and the essence is to educate people about the future of business and the future of the industry that they operate in. So, we look at industry trends and latest products in such forum. We decided to bring the forum to Nigeria to educate the Nigerian people on how they can use technology to leapfrog their business and grow the Nigerian economy.

So much was said about Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in driving businesses. How can Nigerian businesses tap into these emerging technologies to grow rapidly?

Different slides were shown at the forum, how the construction industry in Nigeria for instance, have not evolved technology enough to grow their business, yet there is a lot of ways that technology can help grow the construction industry faster.
We have since discovered that most businesses do the same thing over and over, thereby achieving the same result, using the same process over the years. But there is need for business automation to achieve new results. There are software designed to achieve organisational tasks and organisations need to adopt such software to enhance their businesses.
In the construction industry for instance, putting substances into concrete, and mixing it up to get the right setting takes a longer time to achieve, but there are software developed to address all of that in a faster and more efficient way.

So how does the technology play out to achieve efficient results?

The concept of the technology is about bringing the power of the cloud and using cloud technology to do work faster, better and at lesser cost.

What percentage of value will the technology solution bring to businesses, when adopted?

For the construction company, the technology adds a lot of value to the sector and to the developers, this is because a lot of money go into building construction, but when the right technology is adopted, it helps reduce the waste of materials to about 30 per cent and at the same time reduce the cost of building. If we can reduce the cost of building by even five per cent, that will translate to a whole lot of cost savings for the developer. The technology also reduces the amount of time it takes to complete a particular building. If it takes a builder two years to complete a building, the adoption of the right technology will actually reduce the building time to less than two years and that means saving cost of building, and these are some of the things that excite building owners and developers.

Building Infrastructure Modelling (BIM) is a concept in construction engineering. How has Autodesk been able to use technology in driving this concept?

BIM is a concept that is not new, it has been around since the 60s, but we have been able to use emerging technologies like ML and AI to redefine the concept to enable developers and those in the building construction to build intelligently and faster, using the BIM concept. There is a lot of information that are going into building construction, but what matters is how to manage that information and use them appropriately, which technology is helping us to do today. For example, in modern buildings, you can’t find cables running on the surface of the walls and this is about applying technology in building construction. So, BIM, driven by technology, allows builders to make three-dimensional (3D) representation, using the available data.

3D printing in Nigeria has not been fully explored. Could it be that the right infrastructure is not yet in place to drive 3D printing in the country?

3D printing is an evolving technology at the moment and majority of people do not understand the business imperative that could be unlocked, using 3D printing. The truth is that 3D printing allows people to model out things from its original state of manufacture and use same anywhere in the world, and today, 3D printing is unique technology that is exploding and used across various sectors. It reduces cost of production as well as cost of building. Everyday we experience innovation as technology is evolving. In infrastructure, it is a clear fact that sufficient infrastructure and putting the right infrastructure in place, will help drive evolving technology like 3D printing. The software in 3D printing gives developers enough insight on how to handle building projects a lot faster in the most efficient way. So it is a great opportunity for companies to look at how infrastructure could be redesigned to meet the demands of evolving technologies. Autodesk, for instance, has software designed to help builders design their workflow system in the most efficient and cost-effective way. We have big opportunity in the infrastructure space, which organisations and governments could take advantage of, and we have the technology that helps developers to build better and faster.

How will Autodesk address the issue of manufacturing in Nigeria, where most of the equipment needed in the manufacturing of computer systems are imported before they are assembled in the country?

So our software products are used to design everything that is manufactured in the manufacturing industry, be it computer parts and accessories, mobile phone parts, and building parts. Even the assembling of computer parts needs software solution that will help Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to assemble well. So what Autodesk is focused at is to help customers to use our software during local manufacturing and assembling, across sectors. We have software solutions for both manufacturing and assembling.

In all of these, data generation and analysis, using data analytics, are key to businesses. Do you have solution that will help organisations analyse generated data for faster business decision making?

All our products and solutions come with inbuilt intelligent sensors that help users analyse data fast for instant decision making. So, the generated data belongs to the individual organisation and we have the software tools that will enable the customer analyse the data in the most efficient way.

You spoke so mush about business collaboration and integration for business growth. Do you see the collaboration and integration working out in Nigeria, vis-a-vis the nature of projects in the country where contractors and engineers prefer to go solo in project handling?

One thing that people must know is that they do not need to get big projects before they consider collaboration and integration in their business. I say this because the projects that people get more value from, through collaboration, are small projects. The idea of working in silos will not do business owners any good because the chances of growth is retarded when compared with collaboration in projects, be it big or small projects. Collaboration is crucial to the future of making things. If we are able to empower people to collaborate even in their own business, the better for the industry because it will be able to save more. We have a lot of companies delivering projects in Nigeria using the collaboration and integration in business.