Saccos growth needs automation in line with changing tech – Business Daily
Sacco members mark International Co-operatives Day in Mombasa on July 2, 2022. PHOTO | NMG
Automation has been a buzzword for businesses ever since the world overcame the much-hyped Y2K Millennium Bug at the turn of the century. Automation is great for any business. However, those that make it to the apex of their industries are the ones that continuously automate in line with the ever-advancing technology.
The co-operative movement has no choice but to jump on this bandwagon if it is to deliver value for its millions of members.
In Kenya, the co-operative movement has played a pivotal role since 1908. But so much has changed since those pre-colonial days. Today, a member of a co-operative society needs to make monthly contribution, receive dividends or attend an AGM from any location thanks to technology.
A co-operative society that has not invested in ICT and automation will not be relevant for much longer going by the fast adoption of technologies across various sectors.
Keeping accurate data and profiles of its members is a key management function of co-operatives. Gone are the days of huge files with biodata and other records for members. Today, this information can be retrieved by a click of a button.
Workers are the backbone of these institutions. Ensuring staff are supported with the right technology to deliver efficiently for the membership is a game changer. Repetitive manual tasks have been cited as one of the major reasons employees are dissatisfied as they hit productivity.
Co-operative societies must free up time used in manual work by automating systems. Automation does not necessarily mean employees will be declared redundant, rather, it leads to an institution that has lean staff but increases transparency, accountability and better returns for members.
A secure online portal ensures that any member securely go online and update personal details whenever they change, it also enables members to check the status of their shares.
This also means that the co-operative society is not geographically location-based. It means their members can access first-class service even if they relocate from the country. A member who has recently relocated should still be able to access services from any corner of the world.
For any sector, especially where money is involved, regulation is key to ensuring the rights and safety of members are protected. Automation will not only ensure that organisations are easily audited but also helps reduce the cost involved in manual documentation.
Automation also saves time and resources and allows becoming transparent to members that ultimately builds confidence.
But automation also needs safeguards and precautions in the era of cyber threats and attacks.
Cybercriminals are constantly trying to breach data of various organisations, especially financial institutions.
According to the statistics released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), cyber threats rose by 142 percent in 2021,.
It is, therefore, important to keep evolving to ensure systems are void of cyber threats. Automation can play a key role in managing security of data and aid in dealing with cybercrimes.
This is because, with automation, cyber threats can be detected even without human intervention.
Wahogo is CEO of Safaricom Investment Co-operative Society