Q & A with Mary Njoku, CEO of new Nollywood channel Rok
In case you didn’t know, Nollywood is a big deal. In terms of the number of films produced, the Nigerian film industry is the second largest in the world (Bollywood trumps it). In 2014, the Nigerian government estimated that Nollywood was a $3.3 billion industry.
At the helm of the industry, Nigerian innovators work hard to ensure movies are made accessible to the masses. Take Mary Njoku, the CEO of Rok, a new Nollywood Sky channel that launched just yesterday. The channel is produced by Rok Studios (the production arm of iROKO) and aims to serve the huge UK diaspora audience.
We caught up with Njoku before today’s Rok gala celebration in Central London and asked a few questions about the brand new channel.
Can you tell me about your background and how you came to be Rok’s CEO?
I started off as an actress - I’ve been acting really since school. I had worked on a number of TV series and movies over the years, and really learned my craft on set. But I always had an interest in what went on behind the scenes, and I always had a dream of telling Nollywood stories using my own interpretation, which is why I moved into film production and launched Rok Studios.
How was Rok on Sky conceived?
We knew Nollywood was really popular in the UK, and a lot of Rok fans had seen a few of our movies or TV series, but asked when more of them were coming to their TV screens. We looked into what the UK market had, in terms of delivering amazing Nollywood films and TV, especially newer releases, and we felt that there was really a gap in the market. This is how Rok on Sky was conceived.
How are you planning to promote and market the channel?
We are in London with a lot of stars, who are out speaking to the media and being interviewed. We also have a really busy social media team who are promoting Rok on instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We’re also celebrating with a big gala launch as well, in Central London - so we’re coming at it from all angles, to make as many people as possible aware of Rok on Sky.
How is Rok on Sky funded?
We fund ourselves and have support from Iroko - then we will also be working with a number of advertisers on the channel, to generate revenue through that as well.
Why has Nollywood seen a massive increase in popularity?
The production standards keep getting better and better, and I think that when people watch one or two Nollywood movies, they’re hooked. They love the drama and suspense and the amazing stories. The movies are also really character-led, and people really buy into that and get absorbed into strong characters, so I think this has been really a huge part of Nollywood’s increasing popularity.
Where do you see Rok on Sky in five years time?
Oh wow - well, we dream big, so I guess we would love to be moving into other countries around the world. But first and foremost, we want to keep making amazing movies and TV boundaries, pushing the boundaries and making a big contribution to Nollywood.
Rok is now available 24/7 to all Sky suscribers on channel 344.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”