With the acclimation of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) into organisational operations, rethinking inspection has become a natural outcome of many strategists.

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Whilst some may question why business should adopt a new inspection technique, one only needs to look at the past. Picture no more than 15 years ago, consumers and businesses alike were starting to realise the benefits of mobile devices in communication. Emails could be read, and one could access the internet on a device outside the PC. Within a couple years, the iPhone was launched; humanity quickly adopted a device that shook the globe and remains one of the top selling consumer products in electronics history. Devices like the smartphone rattled a market and became what the average person needed to stay current with society. For business, things such as Big Data and IoT are still ever-increasing in their uptake, but what the smartphone did was raise a question. Why are so many industries staying out of date and not rethinking inspection?

Flash forward to the 2010s and 2020s and digital inspection has had a similar impact on business that smartphones had on the consumer tech market; substituted the outdated system with a far superior replacement. Smartphones encouraged businesses to begin rethinking inspection from the ground up. Operations that began daily at an organisation were previously run on pen and paper pre-start checks but those rethinking inspection realised that this could be put on mobile. Now organisations with paperless solutions can use smartphone and tablet cameras to take pictures and annotate them. Instead of a scribble of illegible handwriting, reports have tangible data; just one of numerous changes simply rethinking inspection brings. Some may think that rethinking inspection means throwing every business inspection process out and starting afresh, which doesn’t have to be the case. Many premium solutions today allow those rethinking inspection to do so at a pace and level that keeps the core values and operations of business inspection intact. In essence, operational inspection in the form of safety audit, facility inspection or compliance monitoring is about acquiring data and information that can be acted upon. Rethinking inspection therefore needed to enhance the ability of an inspector to carry out this task as effectively as possible.

Digital inspection solutions run of the same smartphones that inhabit most homes in many countries today are the future of rethinking inspection. A large part of an inspector’s task of providing actionable information is knowing how to do this as well as possible. Using the same device that you may scroll through a social media feed at lunch therefore inherently lends itself to suiting the job. Running of the same iOS or Android software, employees need next to no training of operating an app, whilst problems can be solved with automated corrective actions or a simple phone call. What many organisations realised during the 2010s was that many employees were carrying around devices in their pocket capable of transforming their job process. Personnel inspecting a lifting hoist could make observations and record data via speech-to-text whilst using both hands to operate machinery. That meant that inspection personnel of 2 could be instantly cut in half, and the time to carry out an inspection drastically dropped; already severely increasing organisational efficiency. Rethinking inspection also allowed organisations to manage assets and calculate better return on investment (ROI) for business expenses due to understanding their operational systems and workforce activities better.

What does the idea of rethinking inspection mean for you? This comes down to your organisational setup and how far you want to go with mobile devices. The effect of the smartphone on society today can show how just how transformational these devices can be. Their use within business is still being realised in new ways, and arguably remains the current big thing for organisations to master. There is vast reward in rethinking inspection, and with mobile devices, there is an even bigger potential.