Kobo360: driving efficency and affordability in supply chain
Obi Ozor is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kobo360, sits down with Business Chief to discuss supply chain industry predictions for 2020.
Could you tell me a little bit about your company and your role at the company?
I am Obi Ozor, co-founder and CEO of Kobo360, the digital technology platform that is building the Global Logistics Operating System to drive efficiency and affordability in supply chain. Our platform aggregates end-to-end haulage operations to connect cargo owners, truck owners and drivers, and cargo recipients in Africa.
I, alongside my co-founder Ife Oyedele, started Kobo360 in 2017 to tackle logistics in Africa. At the time, logistics on the continent were hampered by poor communication and lack of transparency between cargo owners and truck drivers, making it difficult to move goods from Point A to B.
At Kobo360, we use data and technology to match a users request with a selection of quality trucks of all categories, anytime with service delivery guaranteed. We are essentially fixing inherent inefficiencies and supply chain frictions which exist in the road-based logistics business, delivering huge values and positive experiences to SMEs and larger enterprise including Dangote Group, DHL and Lafarge.
As the company’s CEO, I manage all key aspects of Kobo360 including operations, investments, compliance risk management and product growth. In 2019, we’ve expanded our reach to Togo, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
What are the current trends within your industry?
The logistics industry in Africa is about to explode. In July 2019, the African Free Trade Agreement [AfCFTA] came into effect; this trade agreement will transform the size of the logistics sector and heralds the creation of the largest free trade bloc in the world. Despite the issues surrounding border closures in some African nations, this is a great milestone for the continent as it will create a market of 1.2 billion people when all member states of the African Union sign.
The AfCFTA will change the way we do business in Africa by increasing the demand for the movement of goods as well as taking away many of the legislative roadblocks that have made it extremely difficult for goods to move across the continent. The agreement will address a lot of the challenges within our industry as well as give us greater scope to produce solutions.
However, there are still many concerns about the process of delivering goods to where they're meant to go. For instance, cargo owners want to have visibility of their goods as they are being moved across the continent.Technology plays a key role in easing that process, and we’ve provided an operating system that links all the key players in the delivery supply chain.
What makes your company competitive?
What sets Kobo360 apart is that we are at the forefront of logistics with the ability to deliver on promises. We have the ability to build, service and maintain a community of truck drivers and clients and, most importantly, the ability to move goods from A to B faster, safer and cheaper than before.
Additionally, job and wealth creation has always been a central tenet to what we wanted to achieve with Kobo360. We offer the 17,000 truck drivers on our platform access to working capital of up to $5,000 monthly, access to insurance products, discounted petrol, and comprehensive HMO packages as well as incentive-based education programs for drivers’ family. Via our platform, truck owners and drivers can take advantage of the reverse logistics of goods - meaning that they’d always have goods to transport back to their original destination. We are already seeing drivers running trips on the Kobo360 platform increase their monthly earnings by 40% as we work together to mobilize logistics across Africa.
What innovations has your company been developing during 2019?
Earlier this year, we launched a new app built to boost speed and efficiency in the transport market. The KoboApp was developed to ensure real time visibility on cargo and trucks, with a suite of unique product features including first-of-its-kind bidding tools for drivers and customers to assess the price of a trip before selection, and digitised waybills with automated invoices.
Moving from the app, we are building our own Global Logistics Operating System - G-LOS for short - that will power trade and commerce across Africa and Emerging Markets. This is a blockchain-enabled platform that leverages technology to combine all activities in the lifecycle of the supply chain ecosystem into one robust system; our operating system will transition Kobo360 into a supply chain service, ensuring we work harder, smarter and faster for all stakeholders on the Kobo360 platform.
What are your predictions for the industry in 2020?
For 2020, I believe there will be a lot more focus on making African integration a reality - and whether or not the continent can successfully implement the AfCFTA - which, if successful, will tear down barriers to trade and mobility in Africa. We will also see a lot of startups leveraging the pan-African agenda to drive digital trade in Africa. The agreement goes beyond effecting change in trade and value chains, it also includes free movement of African citizens across borders for both business and leisure travel.
Is there any exciting news you’d like to share with our readers at Business Chief USA?
Kobo360 turned 2 this month and I used this opportunity to look back at some of our achievements. As 2019 comes to an end and we look towards the New Year, we, at Kobo360 are actively exploring additional countries across the continent to expand into and remain focused in building Africa’s economy.
For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.
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.”