Managing Director/Chief Executive, Arravo, Mr. Ayo Adegboye, speaks on the impact of the company’s new identity and the need to take critical business decisions in times of crisis, among other issues. Emma Okonji brings the excerpts:
Your company recently switched to a new brand identity. Why the change and of what impact will it bring to the company and its customers?
Yes, we have switched brand identity from BCX Nigeria to Arravo. The impact of the new brand identity on our customers and the company is going to be huge. It simply means that we are now Glocal, which explains that we are a local entity with global outlook, and this will allow us to actually do much more for our esteemed customers in terms of local content. For us, now in a dawn of new era and it is time for us to come out and say how proud we are as Nigerians.
How did you arrive at the name Arravo and why is the website bearing a foreign domain name?
The name Arravo originated from a combination of Latin and Italian languages, which means tenacity, dedication and being able to penetrate against all odds. So Arravo is bringing that zeal and tenacity to business for the benefit of our customers. To answer your question on the domain name and our choice of nomenclature for our website, I will reiterate that we are Glocal, which means we are local company with global perspective. We are proud to be a Nigerian business that is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, and we are not unmindful of our Nigerian domain name that has to do with .ng, but because we have future plan to go global, we need a domain name that reflects our global perspective that will make us truly global, hence the choice of www.arravo.co as the domain name for our website. So we need a website with nomenclature that will be accepted in other countries of the world where we are expanding to. By the time we expand to other countries, we cannot be using .ng domain name in those foreign countries. So the earlier we begin to plan toward our global vision, the better for us and for our global customers. One thing is clear, which is whether we choose a foreign domain name or not, the truth remains that we are proud to have our business origin from Nigeria our beloved country.
You are rebranding when most companies are folding up as a result of the effect of COVID-19. What is the success story and how are you coping with the harsh effect of the COVID-19 pandemic?
From my experience, the best time for businesses to take critical decision that will blossom the company, is during the period of hardships and crisis. No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of hardships and crisis, but as a business with future focus, we see opportunities in crisis, hence we took the bold step to rebrand at a time when the business environment looks harsh. If you recall, it was during the 2008 global economic meltdown, that most of the global and big Information Technology (IT) companies in our time today, were given birth to, such as AB&E, Uber, among others. So in business, the higher the risk, the higher the gain, and at a time like this when the COVID-19 is posing serious challenges to businesses, serious minded companies like us see it as a time to take critical business decision that will help achieve sustainability and expansion plans. Whether we like it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic will surely go one day and businesses will return to normal and people will also return to their normal lifestyles. One thing that is certain during the period of crisis, is that whoever prepares adequately to overcome the crisis, will take advantage of the crisis period to blossom when the crisis is over. So we cannot shy away from business because of crisis, instead we will device a new means of surviving the crisis, while the crisis lasts. One thing people must know is that during crisis it is not the strongest or smartest business that survives, but the business that is more adaptive to the situation.
Does your new identity portends new beginning for the newly rebranded company, and what is the focus of the rebranded company?
I will not want to call it a new beginning because for me, it is a time to build upon exiting structure. We are not resting on our oars but we will continue to strive in order to improve customer experience. We have been operating under BCX South Africa for over 12 years and we have learnt some of the best practices from them by learning through the curves. So the rebranding will help us leverage some of the best practices, improve on those best practices and see how we can take advantage of such global best practices to even do more for our customers. So we are not really new in the business, even though we now have a new brand identity. What our rebranding means to us is that we are rebranding for improved business orientation and improved customer service offerings.
The rebranding comes with a slogan: to engage, disrupt and deliver. Could you expatiate on those three key slogans of your new brand identity?
If you look at today’s technology landscape, you will discover that there has been so mush technology disruption going on. Today the world is looking at Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoTs) and people are afraid that it might lead to job loss, when robots will be doing the jobs that were hitherto handled by humans. But I said to them that it is only those who are not technology compliant that will loose their jobs. The new disruptive technology is actually charting new jobs for those that are technology savvy. So people must upgrade their skills to adapt to the new wave of technology disruption that is already taking place in our world. So robots will not take the job of a teacher who is computer literate. When a teacher or a worker is computer literate, robots will engage his or her job and make him or her more efficient and productive than before. We need people who are computer literate and tech savvy who will control the robot. Again, we need people who will build applications that will make robots work, so it means more digital jobs will be created, and this is the digital disruption we are talking about. We have seen what FinTechs are doing by disrupting the landscape of financial transactions in the banking industry. Those are the kind of solutions we are looking at and our solution offerings with our new brand identity, are meant to digitally engage with customers, introduce disruptive technology solutions in their businesses and deliver such services at their beck and call.
In your speech during the launch of the new brand identity in Lagos, you said Arravo would be moving to becoming the industry giant in technology delivery services. Why did you say so?
I said so because we want to take the lead in Internet of Things (IoTs) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies. Being disruptive is not only in technology, but also in business processes. If you take a look at the disruptive industry, you will discover that not only with technology have they climbed to the peak, but a combination of several other things that made up the entire value chain for business growth. By the time we have a good understanding of the different value chain of the industry, we will begin to see where we can potentially add value to business. We will be using IoT technology to enhance different industry to enable them achieve more with less efforts.
What is your current customer base and how will the rebranding help in managing further expansion growth plan?
Today, Arravo have the likes of MTN, Globacom, 9mobile as customers from the telecoms sector. Then from the public sector, we have PENCOM, Galaxy BackBone, NNPC, among others. In the area of manufacturing we have Unilever, Cadbury, PZ, Flour Mills of Nigeria. In the financial services institution, we have customers such as Stanbic IBTC, GTBank, among others. In retail business, we have customers like Shoprite, Mr. Prize, and Games. So we have good customer base across most of the sectors where we operate. In terms of expansion, the good thing is that we have concluded on our recent geographical expansion plan and we are expanding to Ghana, Cote d Ivoire, Liberia, and Kenya to cover the East Africa region market.
Technology is key to business survivability. How will your rebranded company leverage technology to enhance customers’ experience and maintain business growth?
Arravo is a technology company that is already leveraging emerging technologies to enhance customer experience and to maintain business growth. We have made conscious efforts to up-skill our business and ourselves. We are currently using emerging technologies like IoT and Artificial Intelligence to service our customers and we are in partnership with technology companies that are big Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) brands who produce applications for our Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Business Analytics service offerings. We try to do our best using technology that we can scale down because people do not need to be a large enterprise before they can approach a typical business intelligence application. So every business needs intelligent feedback, business analytics in order to successfully form business decision that will keep the business growing. So we have made considerable investments in emerging technologies, and we will be launching some of our initiates that are driven by emerging technologies in the coming weeks. Our focus will nor primarily be on large enterprise, because we will be focusing on small scale business across the country.
This is the second time BCX is changing ownership structure in less than five years. What could be the reason for this and how are you managing the brand perspective?
Yes, BCX has changed ownership position twice in the last five years, but this current ownership change is different from the former because this is about 100 per cent acquisition of BCX Nigeria, which led to a new brand identity from BCX Nigeria, to Arravo. So what happened was that when BCX South Africa decided to sell off its stakes in BCX Nigeria, some young talented Nigerians, including my very self, pulled funds together and acquired the company. So this is a case of total acquisition. But for me, it is not about change of ownership, because what matters is the structure that has been in place for over 12 years, which we as the new owners will build upon to serve our customers better. So the management, technical capabilities of the former BCX Nigeria, remain the same. The only thing that is changing is the brand identity from BCX Nigeria to Arravo.
Cloud computing is an emerging technology that is redefining organisational growth and resilience. How are you managing cloud computing to improve customers’ business?
We have made conscious efforts to invest in cloud computing technology six years ago and since then we have been at the forefront of offering customers enhanced services that are driven by cloud technology. We are not resting on our oars in delivering cloud serves to customers because our cloud infrastructure is still in place and expanding by the day. With cloud computing, we are able to bring about economics of scale to businesses and we will continue to do so for all our customers.
How do you intend to address downtime in organisational processes and manage speed of production in a given business environment?
Part of the approach to addressing downtime in business is to let customers know that we want to be the single point of contact for customers. In as much as I do not want to reveal most of our business strategies, I must say that we enter into Service Level Agreement (SLA) with our customers to guarantee certain uptime between 99.5 per cent to 99.99 per cent and we are in the process of telling customers that we need not place too much emphasis on particular Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) on a particular product offering, but to rather focus on service delivery, irrespective of the OEM and the particular product that the customer is buying. The emphasis should rather be on the solution and the service we are offering. We are in an era where we sign SLA with customers for efficient service delivery. Every SLA comes with a minimum acceptable downtime, which will be well spelt out in the SLA document.
Who are your technical partners and how trusted are they in developing tailored-made solutions that will drive effective business processes?
We have high quality relationship with our customers, for instance, Cisco is one of our technical partners and we maintain Gold Partnership with Cisco in the last ten years and we Platinum and Gold Partnerships with Dell EMC, HP, Huawei, Check Point, Microsoft, Oracle, among others. Arravo has the finest set of engineers in our industry today and they are all working hard to deliver the best of solutions to our customers.
What are some of the major challenges in offering technology solutions to support businesses in Nigeria, and how have you been able to manage them in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic?
Some of the challenges we experienced in the course of our service delivery, are around communication. It is either we are not getting the right communication from customers, or those receiving the information are not getting the right information. During the COVID-19 lockdown, we were not able to reach every customer, because movements were restricted, but we still tried reaching out to those we could reach. Government policies have a way of affecting businesses and customer service delivery.
What kind of policy implementation do you expect from government that will support ease of doing business in Nigeria?
We expect policies that will enhance businesses and not policies that will stifle businesses, because businesses are going through a lot to remain relevant in business. We need policies that can protect indigenous businesses in the country and policies that will support both small and enterprise businesses, because both categories of businesses need each other to survive.
Again, 70-80 per cent of our deliverables are in foreign currencies and we need some forms of waiver in import duties, because we buy emerging technologies from Europe and Asia to service our customers better. We need to be put in the exclusive list of government just as government did for the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. So we need foreign exchange at affordable rate to enable us survive in the kind of business that we do, which is entirely technology business. We want a situation where the cost of technology service delivery is brought very low.
What has been your contribution towards achieving Nigeria’s digital transformation agenda of the federal government ?
Arravo is one of the drivers of the federal government’s digital economy agenda, which I call knowledge-based economy. We are resolute in developing Nigerian youths by imbibing in them, the right digital skills that will enable them disrupt the system for good of the economy. We have some talented youths that are developing software applications but they do not have the support to further improve on what they are doing. So we are lending support to such group of Nigerian youths and we will continue to do that. We support them by investing in their solution and help take the solution to the market for commercial value.
Several OEMs were present at the recent brand identity launch of Arravo. How do you intend to tap from the OEMs, and leverage their technologies to service your customers better?
We are in partnership with several OEMs and the partnership is a mutual one and we are tapping from their experiences to improve customer experience. In any business, relationship and collaboration are key and we do not want to work in silos because collaboration takes businesses far beyond expectation.