How do find the next big thing?

A young man wrote to me recently, he said “hi Chika, good day, I would like to get advice on IT and Programming on how to make money from it. What is really on board on this courses, the best softwares and application to make programming effective”. This was my response:

“Hello Om******, you need to start with the customer in mind. What does the customer want? What problem needs to be solved? IT is just a tool or a channel for solving customer problems. So to make money from IT you need to find a problem that is not solved properly or has no solution yet, and then see what IT tools you can use to solve it. It’s important to start with the problem and not the IT tool. Instead of thinking what can I use AI or blockchain to do, start by looking for a pain people will pay you to solve.

From your profile I assume you are based in Nigeria. In Nigeria today, a lot of manual processes can be automated with software. Also, because the wages in Nigeria are relatively low, if you can build quality software you will be more competitive than many other people around the world. The world is a global village.

Whatever you choose to do, start with the problem and not the technology.”

A lot of people fall into the trap of trying to use the latest technology to solve every problem. That’s a problem because it has the tendency of making you settle for a suboptimal solution. Because your mind is already made up about the technology to use, it becomes difficult to see the merits of other solutions and will lead you to what we call a ‘local minima’ in Machine Learning; a solution that works, but is not the best. Think of it as Jollof rice without plantain. It just isn’t the same.

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