DATA DIGITALIZATION OF THE MOVEMENT, WITH THE HELP OF CIBI
This is seen as a much needed and very timely process that the cooperative movement in the Philippines has begun to embrace: the need for digitalization, especially towards the need for establishing a much more precise, more accurate and more updated cooperative data registry.
This is also what drove PCC to host a webinar forum in this regard last January 28, 2021.
The creation of a cooperative databank or data registry is bound to be a milestone especially if it were to be looked upon in tandem with the movement’s thrust towards digitalization which, in the words of PCC Chair Dr. Gary Leonardo, “is anchored on value chain that cuts across all clusters and will be a very effective tool in decision-making, in advocacy and in carrying out planned programs. “He went on further to state that “This is not to compete with, but to complement, the cooperative master list of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), for which we will reach out to CDA towards building up a strong partnership in this respect.” The need for pertinent data is one of the concerns raised by the different clusters, the addressing of which they will all benefit from. This is also in line with the digital ecosystem that is anchored on value chain that cuts across all clusters.”
Wholly owned by co-ops
In her presentation, cooperator Zeny Novabos stressed that the objective of the National Cooperative Data Registry is to establish a registry that is wholly owned by PCC and the cooperative movement which will provide national co-op statistics, reports, analytics, data-driven references and decision-making tools for co-op development. As such, it will be for use by co-op federations, unions and primary cooperatives.
Ms. Novabos added that CIBI’s role is to simply provide the know-how and resources to develop and maintain a national data registry platform based on the needs of PCC via infrastructure and application development. PCC will take the lead in managing and building the coop database, in close coordination with the different clusters as regards identification, design, data collection and maintenance.
The coop movement held consultations with different clusters last December 2020, together with two federations that assisted in data gathering, MASS-SPECC and PHILFECO. The challenge in data identification lies in human resources, transport, marketing and consumers yet Ms. Novabos assures that small steps are being taken with CIBI to take big leaps for further validation. In the ways forward, CIBI will start application development once data elements are defined, for which PCC, in partnership with cluster heads and CIBI, will design appropriate questionnaires for federations, unions and primary coops to assist in data collection. Actual data collection will be either through pre-designed templates or application portals. Ms. Novabos was very confident about this partnership, which she regarded as a dream of both PCC and the co-op movement that will finally see its day.
PCC CEO, Edwin Bustillos added that in this strategic direction, the cross cutting of data will indeed aid coops in developing tools and policies, and he lauded the very good partnership for which reason he sees that the project will take off well.
Complementary to CDA
CIBI, for its part, through its Managing Director Lydia “Jams” Canalija, noted this undertaking as part of its outreach program, whose registry is in compliance with the CDA and complementary to what CDA has, adding how this initiative is very appropriate especially during this COVID period. She gave a presentation on what CIBI is: an information and analytical company with 56 million data subjects in 39 years. The company had its first engagement with coops in the ‘90s, initially with SEDCOP. From 2013 to the present, CIBI has been engaged with iMCOOP and myScore-COOP. Among CIBI’s roles are to provide identity authentication, business intelligence and insights, credit/industry/business scores and ratings. What also comes with a CIBI app is: myScore, the first Filipino credit score—in addition to a team of data analysts that is growing.
Among the pain points that the movement has, database wise, observed Ms. Canalita, are the absence of updated coop statistics, limited data, and inaccurate numbers. She emphasized the need for accurate, updated, reliable online Philippine coop statistics and data-driven reports and analytics to help coops attain the following:
She also looks forward to greater partnerships and enhanced cooperation in helping PCC and the coop movement generate reliable and accurate data even at the primary and secondary levels. As for data sources, she stressed the role of federations/unions/primary coops, with inputs that comprise data such as organizational, financial and non-financial, and that of individual members. For outputs, this will mean gaining from the benefits that the system offers such as updated coop data, figures and statistics; disaggregating multi-affiliation; multi-membership; doing benchmarking; service/credit ratings and other value-added features; facilitating CIC compliance for coops with lending services; CDA reports; standardized coop practices and terminologies.
Ms. Canalija added that more specific data gathering per cluster will work to their advantage in helping them map out their plans/prospects based on specific data: in the case of agri-coops, the types of produce, total land area utilized for particular crops, type of farming method; for transport coops, the routes that they ply and date when franchise was granted; for labour co-ops, the pool of workers, their skills/educational attainment; for housing co-ops, land area and house ownership; and for health co-ops, number of enrollees in co-op health service providers, and benefits claimed, among several others. Not to be outdone is training, with data on special courses, list of accredited trainers per federation/union and their specialization.
As for the gathering and validation of data, Ms. Novabos added that federations and unions can also help PCC in this regard.
Positive outlook amidst different concerns
During the open forum that followed, cooperator Atty. Pedy De Quiroz expressed that this undertaking offers a very good outlook for the movement, yet he raised his concern on the possible disparity of data between CDA and that of PCC and CIBI. He also cited the intention of standardizing salaries and wages with that of the labour code as well as the lack of standard rules for unions and federations that are allowed to conduct trainings and seminars, which are supposed to be the mandate of unions.
In response to Mr. De Quiros’ queries, PCC Chair Dr. Leonardo emphasized how PCC is ready to reach out to CDA to avoid conflicts in data gathering and ready to consult with them with regard to data collection. As for salaries and wages, he stressed up to what extent salaries and wages can be standardized. And for regulations pertaining to the conduct of training, he cited that it is in the realm of CDA as it regulates the conduct of such.
San Dionisio Credit Cooperative’s Ms. Cielo Garrido also cited the venture as a welcome development but expressed her concern on who will handle the info, post these and who will be hosting and taking care of the data. She also inquired which areas and services can coops complement and how coops can cope with e-Money while at the same time calling for a clear understanding of data sharing between PCC and CDA.
The hosting of the data, emphasized Dr. Leonardo, is by PCC on behalf of the movement, for which PCC should augment its resources, with initial development coming from CIBI until a point that all data will be turned over to PCC. He is also calling on federations that have the necessary know how in IT/digitalization and are IT savvy to also help PCC in this endeavor.
For his part, Vice-Chair Loreto voiced his concern on the protection of data integrity of both PCC and CIBI for which Ms. Zeny replied that the integrity of the data will lie on the one responsible for the data, while PCC CEO Sir Edwin asked about the technological adjustments that are being taken.
How the data will be protected, considering the fact that CIBI is a private entity, what are the applicable fees and how this endeavor will be managed in the case of those co-ops that are located in the rural areas were additional points shared by cooperator Jonathan of PERA MPC. Ms. Jams replied that the accuracy of the data lies with the primary coops, but data protection is within the infrastructure of CIBI to which she added that there are security measures which makes PCC the main gatekeeper. She also suggested the designation of a point person who will be entrusted to handle, and to encode the data inputs. As for the applicable fees, these will be decided by PCC but, in all likelihood, at a socialized pricing scheme that is not beyond, or hopefully even lower than the usual co-op pricing.
A very exciting project, especially in the new normal was the way NATCCO CEO Engr. Sylvia ‘Ibing’ Paraguya viewed it, with great enthusiasm that it can benefit the movement in the long term. She called on the need for the adoption of certain protocols like in submitting and accessing. She also shared an insight that in Thailand, data are being asked from regulatory bodies for which a fee is applicable per access. She added that while she observed that standardization entails a lot of work, it is worthwhile to standardize.
Joe Manansala of the QC Union of Cooperatives expressed his concern on trade secrets that may be given to others. He observed that CIBI has the capacity, but, from a co-op point of view, may be too capital-intensive; to offset those costs, he was suggesting if PCC can avail of donations or grants.
The need for co-ops to have flexibility in terms of sharing the data was what the PCC Chair stressed, adding that there will be data for general consumption, and others that are private for specific cooperatives. Distinguishing the data for general consumption and those for strictly private use by any one cooperative will be given utmost consideration and attention. The PCC-CIBI partnership, he added may be seen as temporary, it being largely just for the purpose of PCC and key federation-partners getting the necessary technical competence for handling data. As for micro co-ops who may not be so technically equipped, he hinted that this can be an initiative for local federations to serve as data collating centers.
Gen. Llanto of ACDI is particular about getting analysts whose forte is to manage data and perform the pertinent data analytics.
The difficulty for individual coops in submitting their data was reiterated by Ms. Louisa Angliangco of the Los Banos-based Nature Science Hope MPC based upon which she suggested if co-op councils, especially in small LGUs, can aid in the submission of individual data.
Atty. Mickel Borigas of BANGKOOP showed concern on the compliance with the data privacy law so that primaries can be confident enough, especially on how these data will be stored, and how they will be properly used; he also stressed that there must be a waiver on how these data will be utilized. Ms. Jams replied that the concerns of data privacy will be best understood as CIBI has plans of coming up with an orientation seminar on data privacy and zero in on the specific needs. She stressed that the decision of who will access these data lies upon PCC, which has the rights, and ownership of these data (and not CIBI)—along with the need to run a series of data privacy sessions that will cover storage, usage and the sharing of said data.
In response to a query on what brought about the present coop data registry endeavor, the PCC Chair stressed that the need for the data registry actually came about as a result of the various cluster forums that PCC hosted. Thereafter, PCC took it upon itself to help the sector put together the relevant data requirements across the different clusters.
The session concluded with the Ways Forward, which was expounded by Sir Edwin, during which he mentioned that once the data elements are confirmed, CIBI will start developing the system after which PCC, in coordination with cluster heads and CIBI, will finalize the design of the appropriate templates. Actual data collection will be via the said templates or through application portals. The need to host an orientation on data privacy and relevant technology was also recognized. He added that related to this is the PUP-PCC partnership which will take off on April 1 one involvement of which would be with regard to data and research. Another related endeavor of PCC is acting as catalyst to hopefully bring together federations/ primaries with e-platforms to help in the development of an e-digital ecosystem.
Much as cooperators could see the PCC-CIBI partnership as something that will enhance efficiency in data gathering, pragmatism dictates that we – as responsible cooperators – also need to be cautious in managing the data concerned. We need to be more discreet as we access, and more so exchange, data with others. This, PCC assures, is where it will be most circumspect, discerning and prudent; always mindful of the co-op movement’s primordial interest above anything else.