News and Updates

14 Jul 2020

Will COVID19 push digitalisation to the next level?

The corona crisis has brought many businesses to their limits but has also revealed who is and who is not prepared to adapt quickly to the new challenges. Never in history have so many students learned through online services, never have so many people worked remotely from their homes. The internet has become – more than ever – the means to keep us going, socially and work-wise, and the use of digital solutions in our everyday life has increased even amongst those who were not so keen on them before the crisis. It is very likely that this development will continue – out of convenience, to save costs, or both. A strong digital seed has been planted. But will this change everything – even within the compliance sector?

Corona urges us to do things differently

COVID19 triggers an important question that is crucial for any development: ‘Can we do things differently than we did so far?’ If you as a person or as a business stop asking yourself this question, you stall. Digitalisation offers many ways of answering this question with a clear ‘yes’: yes, you can buy your food online without having to go to a supermarket full of potentially contagious people. Yes, your staff can work from home and look after their children whilst schools are closed. Yes, efficient online meetings are possible without travelling efforts. Yes, information can be uploaded and shared instantly so that everyone knows what is going on. The pandemic has urged many businesses to implement new, digital ways of doing things overnight. After the hight of the crisis, it is important that we assess carefully if the areas where we were forced to go digital will really make businesses more resilient for future crisis scenarios and help them reach their strategic business goals  at the same time. Deloitte sums this up in three phases: respond – recover – thrive.

Example: the impact on the Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) sector

Globalisation has made many supply chains very long and very complex, and thereby increased the necessity of effective standards and legislation to regulate and ensure the quality of products, infrastructures, and processes. This is the field of activity for TIC companies, which provide their services throughout the entire economy: from agriculture to automotive, from education to tourism. These companies check, analyse, control, enquire and test, and many of their tasks require on-site-visits. The corona crisis hampered national and international travel, inspectors had to stay home, samples could not be taken, audits could not take place. These circumstances pose a big threat to product authenticity, quality and safety concerns worldwide. Economic pressure is high, financial losses are dramatic, supply chains must recover quickly – but all this at the loss of transparency, control and integrity? Or can things be done differently, even by TIC businesses? Yes, they can – and in view of the corona crisis, they must. The technology and workflows, e.g. for remote audits, already exist but are far from being widely used. These audits build on live streaming services combined with secured data sharing tools and platforms. They consist of structured work packages that can be handled step by step without on-site time pressure, and for certain areas turned out to be even more effective than the usual on-site surveillance. And they save money, time and emissions for on-site visits.

For years and years, many entities within the TIC sector have been a showstopper for digitalisation, have adhered to the outdated belief that for safety’s and quality’s sake, things must be done the way they have always been done. COVID19 may have shattered this belief. The TIC industry could only ever become as important as it is today because of globalisation. Globalisation, however, has allowed for the pandemic to spread. So, if questioning globalisation as such is not an option, the sector must question the way how things are done – and the answer will be: digitally.

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