One of the best things that happened in Nigeria during the 2015 recession, and the associated foreign exchange scarcity, was Nigerian entities being forced to look internally to find solutions. With no foreign exchange, there was no option to even consider importation. As I explained in a Harvard Business Review piece, even paint makers were innovating. Of course, the recession was a very challenging time across our industrial sectors, from real estate to banking, insurance to pharmaceutical, as many lost their jobs. Yet, in the midst of the miry clay, something positive happened: our indigenous startups got second looks.
The paralysis was contagious; even banks struggled. Within months, they started engaging local companies to provide some elements of their software needs. Many companies benefited immensely on that industrial redesign, moving from foreign software to local ones. One of them is Lagos-based ATB Techsoft Solutions. It is a relatively young company that is yet to celebrate its fifth birthday, but it has blossomed in what it does. It has mastered the business of scaling innovation where great products, out of software R&D, are massively scaled across market segments. It generates revenue that would make most insurance companies in Nigeria envious.
ATB Techsoft Solutions Limited is an IT Solutions delivery Company incorporated … to undertake and provide various IT as well as advisory services to the banking and manufacturing sectors of the Nigerian economy including Government departments & agencies as well as educational institutions.
The founder, Abiodun Atobatele, saw a need (that friction at heart of free enterprise) in the market: Nigeria would be a market for indigenous software solutions that offer unlimited customization capabilities which are largely impossible with any foreign software. He left where he was employed and became an entrepreneur. Eminently brilliant, he started coding, not for fun, but for alpha. Yes, he wanted to fix frictions in the market and expected to be compensated by the markets. Doing that requires delivering excellent solutions to clients and partners. Today, ATB Techsoft is growing and providing employment to many Nigerian citizens.
Selection of ATB Techsoft team (by my right is the CEO of ATB Techsoft, Abiodun Atobatele)
The All-Industry Portfolio
Abiodun wants to build a local software powerhouse that could compete with any foreign brand in the Nigerian and broad West African markets. Unlike the complainers who delight in reminding us that Nigeria has no talent, he saw all he wanted in Nigeria. He hired tens of Nigerian graduates and gave them assignments to build technologies and solutions which their brothers, sisters, parents and friends would use in our economy. The nerds and the geeks responded.
Today, ATB Techsoft has one of the largest collections of indigenous software portfolio in Nigeria covering any sector you can imagine, for any need you can think. I mean there is no industry it does not have enterprise software. Its development process is supreme. That process is the reason it has achieved success within its short existence.
ATB Techsoft grand vision is to deliver a one-stop software solution across market sizes and industrial sectors in West Africa. All the solutions are packaged and promoted under its oasis, the FinUltimate.
Finultimate offers the most comprehensive portfolio of applications software designed to help companies improve operational effectiveness, profitability, product innovation, distribution / delivery channel growth, customer relationships and enterprise information management.
FinUltimate is an African brand and would lead the future for ATB Techsoft. It is making software in ways that allows small companies to afford them, and get the benefits of productivity gains which software make possible. I am a believer; I love the software for my businesses. With ATB Techsoft, I do not have to worry on endless licensing fees with foreign companies. Call it pricing software in the old ways Africans used to break kola nuts: giving more to make your neighbor feel comfortable in your house.
ATB Techsoft has a multi-pronged growth strategy: it has a very profitable software business and a technology advisory service business. The business is built into four groups which include Infrastructure, Security, Networking, and of course the Software. All are closely integrated in the business. Through these groups, it serves tens of clients in Nigeria and beyond. Its services have also extended into central Africa.
My best part in the firm is the open innovation house where the geeks hang around as they plan the next industry to eat with software.
Software for Nigerian Companies
Abiodun plans to make its software to work for any business in Nigeria. It has built this end-to-end software solution that can help any business in Nigeria. Indeed, in anything software can do, ATB Technsoft would provide the necessary software. And because there are many things software can do, the company believes it has opportunities.
I asked him how he plans to make that happen. He explained that it makes sense for any company with a bank account in Nigeria to get most of its software largely free from the bank. He wants to be the one supplying the software to banks in order to make bank customers happier. This is what he is working on right now. That sound exciting that you can get your enterprise software from your bank, and with the software you can handle HR, accounting, taxation, supply chain management, fixed asset, inventory management and more. All that for free through your bank.
Indeed, he is providing a new level of customer engagement opportunity to his banking partners. That would be great for Nigerian businesses. The massive savings from importing foreign software would be catalytic to local companies. I have gone ATB Techsoft in my business and we indeed love the seamless integration that comes with its technologies. If my bank makes that possible, that would even be priceless. I think a synergy exists here between ATB Techsoft and our banking sector. If they integrate the banking transactions into the software, one would expect more productivity gains in how our local firms function.
ATB Techsoft has done well over a very short period. But the future is going to be competitive since every market share it wins, someone is losing. That is why it has to vigorously innovate. But looking at the faces of the young people at the heart of the firm’s mission, there is no need to doubt the promise.
Furthermore, the firm has to also deal with issues of software piracy and making sure that its intellectual properties are protected and respected. I feel so excited when I see some local banks solutions and I know that some of them are now created and supported by companies like ATB TechSoft. Getting Nigeria out of our stasis would come when companies like ATB Techsoft are supported not just by the private sector but by governments. That is how you turn a company with dozens of staff into one that employs thousands.
The promise of that Nigeria with optimism, opportunity and unbounded energy would only come when we look inward to find solutions to frictions that exist in our markets and economies. ATB Techsoft is a messenger of that redesign which is critically needed in our great nation.
Disclosure: ATB Techsoft is a Fasmicro Group Advisory Services client