Sooooooo. Today’s guest on TechCabal Radio is…Nic Haralambous

I’ve been talking about Nic since yesterday, and it just occurred to me that he has some pretty good advice for the Nigerian tech ecosystem that I’ve been sitting on for some months now and been too lazy to upload.

Nic was at the last edition of Mobile Web West Africa to speak about using data to grow your grow your business, and he employed many personal anecdotes from his experience working at Motribe and on his hipster sock sales startup, NicSocks. At some point, he started talking about how data is not oil, but air — you can’t breathe without it.

“I’m the guy who needs data to run a business”, he said. “Because data equals revenue”.

Without saying as much, he seemed to be gobsmacked that anyone in their right minds would do mobile/internet business in Nigeria, given the nigh impenetrable levels of opacity. There is absolutely no actionable data to be found. Everyone so far is mostly going with their gut. Often with disastrous consequences, as you can imagine.

A big topic for conversation…today is how do you get data and analytics in Nigeria? It seems like you guys are struggling with it. There aren’t tools that are helping you. You aren’t getting the right information. My very simple answer to you is build it…start tracking it (the data) for yourselves. Don’t wait for Google Analytics, that’s not innovative, that’s lazy entrepreneurship…if you’re missing something, build it, that’s the industry you’re in. Build stuff. If you don’t have the developers, find the developers…

You might have heard me swearing under my breath at the point where he first said “build it” in the recording (in case you missed it, the soundcloud embed is top of the page). I was affected like that because truer words about the subject were never said.  And yes, we kind of deserved that collective swipe at Nigerian geek cred.

Nic’s comment was informed by some of the conversation that had transpired in the morning session on mobile advertising when the question of where to find real, hard Nigerian digital analytics numbers and info had come up at some point. In that same session, I asked Wildfusion’s Abasiama and TwinPine’s Elo Umeh if their companies would be amenable to supporting local initiatives that promote aggregation and access to digital intelligence for the local ecosystem, seeing as they are digital (read mobile) marketing and advertising stakeholders respectively.

Right now, the only things that pass for local data insights exist on Alexa (that we all swear by, even if it stinks, bless them) and Statcounter. Places where you’ll never get the drill down. ISPs and browser companies have data they won’t share. People ask me questions like what are the top selling handsets in Nigeria like I’m supposed to know the answer. If there was a place where they could get the answers to those questions, I’d gladly point them in that direction. But there just isn’t.

However, what I didn’t say when I put the question to Abas and Elo, and while Nic was making the comment about building such an analytics platform is that one has already been built. It is called Open Apps and is the subject of another post that I believe I will be pushing out tomorrow soon.

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