Coronavirus. You’ve probably seen the word at least a dozen times in the past 24 hours. At Inspectorio, we are deeply saddened by the toll the virus has had on people’s livelihoods and families, and are actively working to help companies succeed during this difficult time.

Many people have asked about our views on how coronavirus is impacting quality control in the global supply chain. This article shares what we’ve learned so far.

Working with some of the leading brands and retailers in the world, and with more than 10,000 suppliers using our platform, we have seen first-hand who is ready to operate in this new reality and who isn’t. Make no mistake: we are only starting to feel the impact of Coronavirus. Its impact on the economy and supply chain in general will be so immense that it will require companies to completely redefine the way they manage their businesses, their supply chains, and their quality control and sustainability management practices.

For the past decade, the quality and control industry has acknowledged the importance of digitizing supply chains. Everyone has come to agree that empowering vendors and factories to own their quality control and sustainability inspections is critical. Unfortunately, very few companies have actually transformed these beliefs into actions. Our partners comprise the majority of those organizations that did, and we have seen how they have leveraged data and technology to reduce their dependence on subjective judgment and streamline their operations.

Fast forward to 2020. The world is facing a challenge of unprecedented magnitude — one that requires companies to operate every facet of their business, from daily office work to interactions with suppliers, in remote mode. For the next 12 to 18 months, travel and mobility will be so limited that nearly everything will need to be done remotely. Supplier evaluation visits. Preproduction meetings. Middle production inspections. Pre-shipment inspections. Social audits, environmental audits, and many more auditing, verification and calibration activities — all will need to be executed remotely.

This isn’t our theoretical vision of the future — we are watching all of this happen in front of our eyes. Today, many auditors and inspectors are unable to travel to execute scheduled verifications. Those who are able to reach the manufacturing facilities are often not allowed access due to fear of contagion.

Faced with this new reality, we have seen companies fully migrate to self-inspection models in a matter of days, leveraging the standardization, connectivity and visibility that our platform offers. Although remote capability is a defining trait of success right now, it is not the only requirement for this new reality. Remote verifications must be trustworthy. The data generated through self-inspection programs needs to be verified and compiled in an efficient manner. Companies must be able to not only continue their operations, but also to make smarter, faster decisions on how to distribute their increasingly limited resources. Only with artificial intelligence (AI) can organizations rapidly identify risks and irregularities in the self-inspection data they receive. With that information, they can then issue warnings, request re-inspections from vendors, or conduct target inspections in their distribution centers. This combination of self-inspection data, vendor risk management through AI, and informed decision-making to address problems is the most reliable formula for success in this difficult time.

As organizations begin to recognize the need to transform their operations, as well as the returns these changes would bring, we’re also seeing rising levels of uncertainty about how to accomplish these crucial business improvements. The Inspectorio platform allows companies to rapidly implement self-inspections on a global scale — fast enough to cope with the growth of the coronavirus — and continue to stay ahead of the competition. We will be publishing a guide we’ve put together on the crucial steps any organization can follow to do this successfully.

The modern supply chain industry is facing a challenge unlike any before. Organizations’ global operations are being put to the test in every way. Now more than ever, organizations that have invested in technology and risk management are coming out on top of their competitors. Despite the many challenges ahead of us, we recognize that the Coronavirus has triggered a new reality in all spheres of sourcing and supply chain management. The post-Coronavirus production chain will be one of accelerated digital transformation powered by artificial intelligence — a production chain where the vendor empowerment model for quality and sustainability is finally a reality.

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