By Mike Richman
This regular column in The Auditor is intended to shine a light on the people, standards, and events that mean the most to auditors and registered organizations.
In this segment, we chat with Dr. Harry van Enckevort and Lance Bauerfeind. Van Enckevort is science and technology advisor at AsureQuality, which provides food assurance and biosecurity services to the food and primary production sectors worldwide. Bauerfeind is an augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) specialist with the award-winning software development company, Company-X.
Van Enckevort and Bauerfeind are offering a presentation titled, “Augmented Reality and Auditing” during Exemplar Global’s forthcoming Future of Auditing Expo.
Mike Richman: Harry, let’s start with you: Successful auditors have always employed the latest technology to help them in their jobs. What’s different about tech now (and what will be different in the tech of the future) to supercharge these efforts?
Harry van Enckevort: I am not an auditor, so I have only an outside perspective. Our pilot trial using augmented reality in auditing was conducted and overseen by auditors and our certifications manager.
With that said, regarding the future, I can’t imagine what might come at us out of left field from the science, tech, and digital sector. My role is to be vigilant and to also help open eyes, minds, and imaginations to nearer future opportunities that are “out there.”
We trialed AR at AsureQuality because I thought it would have a place in the business widely, and our auditors thought it would be helpful, even in this infancy stage of the tech development, when I put it to them.
The near future certainly will bring us a more efficient and immersive digital experience. Lance and I have hinted at this in our presentation in terms of being online to enable real time, state, and status attribute observation, analytics, and assessment prior to the audit and at the time of the audit because of data analytics and interpretations. This involves being able to do more of an audit remotely, with the final steps being seeing the whites of the eyes of those being audited in person.
These questions also tie into the bigger question of how our future selves will demonstrate conformance, certification, assurance, and trust. This represents a challenge for auditors in terms of assessing the “hows and whys” of outcomes from black boxes, AI systems, and the digital twins of businesses used for virtual challenges to a business and operating model.
MR: Lance, many are well-aware of the “razzle dazzle” consumer-facing uses of AR and VR. But how are these technologies also changing the game for those within industry, especially for functions like quality and compliance?
Lance Bauerfeind: AR in industry is about the connected worker. If we can deliver the right information at the right time, then we can reduce errors and ensure standards are being met immediately. This entire session can be recorded and saved automatically into any back-end system. Also, the connected worker can make a two-way video call to a remote expert that will minimize costly errors and/or rework.
Advances in voice-recognition technologies have enabled wearables to be completely hands-free and voice-controlled, thereby realizing 30–40% productivity gains. That makes this a “no-brainer” for organizations wanting to improve their efficiency.
MR: Harry, can you give me two of three ways that you think that AR/VR will change auditing in, say, the next 10 years?
HvE: We headlined some of the nearer future opportunities in our presentation because of the opportunity that AR will provide for improving or enabling these functions and doing so in real time. If I had anything to add it would be about the increasing digitization of business and reliance on digital data and the challenge and opportunity this provides.
Further ahead, I wonder what challenges will be brought by the outputs of AI systems enabling intelligent supply and value chains as opposed to more mechanistic cyber-physical chains.
We must always remember that every “solution” brings its own problems, while also being aware to incorporate a design-led approach and follow through with that customer who said to us on our pilot AR trial, “Wow! Imagine what we could do together….”
Exemplar Global’s Future of Auditing Expo will take place October 14–31. Click here to register.
About the author
Mike Richman is the principal of Richman Business Media Consulting, a marketing and public relations company working with clients in the worlds of manufacturing, consumer products, politics, and education. Richman also hosts the web television program NorCal News Now, which focuses on social, economic, and political issues in California. He is a contributor to (and former publisher of) Quality Digest.