How often do you get to visit a 70-year-old cooperative society? I have had reason to interact at close quarters with a sizeable number of different sorts across Nigeria, ranging from the ‘brown’ age category to the ‘green’ age category. Unique to the ‘brown’ age category is a retinue of history, common to both is records and treatment of records. I visited one cooperative in the ‘brown’ age category in Badagry, Lagos about five years ago. That cooperative was founded in 1946; that was 73 years ago. I had a privileged glimpse of the ledger morgue. Journalistically said, the morgue is a storage location or room for aggregated old files in expectation of some relevant future use. That was the location where a sweaty cooperative manager was located, in search of ledgers. Now, the ledgers were not only old, judging by their hard-back, none of the many rows which terminated at the ceiling, had any semblance of whiteness left. They were old and shriveling at the edges, indicative of age. An angry member chose that day to pounce-in just about the same time to complain about a year-old instruction to discontinue an illicit deduction that had not been complied with and effected. The look on the manager’s face that day said volume; the new ordeal could have waited another time, another day.
Let us analyze that encounter. A digital cooperative workspace would have lent to preferred efficient output from the Manager. The vast space used for morgue and costs of burglar-proof fortification could have served some other productive use, which would have most likely improved the balance sheet size. The hours and days spent in conducting unproductive searches and intractable reconciliation could have been better conducted within minutes which would have seen the manager engaged in strategic and tactical input to the cooperative development.
If a cooperative digital workspace model had been implemented, members; literate and illiterate (by western education standard) could have related more with the cooperative without burning man-hour in commuting from point ‘A’ to the cooperative secretariat. That way, both visible and invisible hazards of the road are avoided.
So, what is Cooperative Digital Workspace (CDW)?
The Cooperative digital workspace is a total change in the way services are delivered to cooperative members using IT. Implementing Cooperative Digital Workspace puts control truly with the member who can now engage in self-service, no longer harried by time, distance or space, the member does not need to abandon a crucial meeting all in the name of getting to the secretariat or the cooperative mart before closure. No longer is a request ‘jobbed’ simply because the authorizer would be away, so it needs be closed before departure. Wherever an authorizer goes he retains access to execute his approval cum authorization role, and timely too. All these and more are made possible by integration of today’s cloud-based management technologies, out-of-the-box service rendition and experiences that scale across platforms, locations, and device ownership.
Believing it is apt to say the Cooperative Member is king, Cooperative Digital workspace seeks to serve the member in a smarter way, unlike previous experiences.
There are five critical requirements for a digital workspace. These form the plank on which the new member experience should be built.
- Putting user’s cum workers experience First
- Applications availability and accessibility– Anytime, Anywhere
- Modern Device Management
- Experience and Security Management
- Automation for success irrespective of Scale
It is unsustainable; the current situation in organizations across various sector of the economy, including the Cooperative sector. Users Information technology experience is replete with limited offering to choose from. access agony, configuration complexities, security concern, and concern about cost.
In between the current and the future (Digital workspace) is the transition stage characterized by simplification and access management demonstrated by single sign on, unified endpoint management reflected in device pre-configuration and Windows delivery transformation which accepts windows operating system been run on various medium.
Ultimately, Cooperative Digital workspace would usher in increased productivity and innovation. On the development design side, platform for administering members are flexible and scalable, Cost, security and complexity concerns pale in contrast to the unique user experience and the array of user choices available.
At the administrative side of the divide, goodness is made easier to practice because of the flexibility that digital platforms offer to render administrative activity in record time and humane manner.
Cooperative Digital workspace achieve business growth when the cooperative workforce and the members evolves. Digital technology would work for cooperative growth as ‘digital aliens’ embrace new technologies. Even though that may not qualify them for ‘digital natives’, they would pass for ‘digital familias’. This requires the cooperative workforce and members to be willing and indeed adopt digital workspace initiatives as reflected in their preferred work and engagement i.e. (request initiation and transaction) preferences. For instance, some members and employees may want to use a self-service portal rather than rely on a traditional cooperative secretariat.
It is important to point out that 3 core technologies drive digital workplace. Cloud-based office suites is an unavoidable start-point. Next in succession are enterprise content management and collaboration tools.
So, if the cooperative sector must adopt digital workplace practice for its many benefits in increased productivity and innovation, what about the capital outlay? It is recommended that Cooperatives; i.e. primaries, unions and or federations) negotiate with platform providers. That way, the principle of comparative advantage will mediate; everyone will specialize in area of core competence. The platform providers would offer service at a lower opportunity cost than the cooperatives re-inventing the wheel.