A new era for certification bodies
The main thing that changed about Standards over the years is their demand. An ISO 9001 audit in 2020 audit is practically identical to one in 2010. Just because standards stayed almost identical, doesn’t mean the world around them stayed identical. There has been development in the way transparency and trust are handled within the TIC industry. In this post, we explain the main changes within the industry.
Major questions for you as a TIC body are:
1) How did your company evolve?
2) Which technology did you introduce?
3) Are you adaptive enough to stay competitive?
The evolution of TIC bodies.
The past years have shown how online business affects the TIC market. Since more business is handled online, there is an increased need for transparency and trust within the supply chain. This need does not only come from the end consumers but also from the suppliers themselves. One example of these increasing needs is the exponential growth of different standards.
Take, for example, social responsibility. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) made a standard in 2010, regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The ISO 26000. Back in 2010 auditing for CRS was simple. There was one audit form, one Standards Organization, and one auditee. But since then, almost every country has created its own specific social responsibility standard. Nowadays there are over 20 different social responsibility standards. Besides the increase in different CSR standards, the scope of the audit also increased. With growing awareness of social responsibility, buyers want to have guarantees that the products are compliant to their beliefs, local standards, and respecting human rights.
These changes, the expansion of the standards, and the increasing scope make that TIC Bodies have to change their business approach. The need for flexibility and reliability is creasing as the amount of standards increases. There is less room for, and less value in, organizations that only audit certain standards.
The introduction of new technologies
Over the past years, it has been hard for Standards Organisations to combine certificates and the increasing use of digital business opportunities. The conventional way of the certificate was a printed document, signed and stamped. A way to physically display certain virtues to the occasional bypasser. Times have changed and the use for a physical certificate has lost its value as most business is done either overseas or completely digital.
Standards Organisations and Software Suppliers created multiple solutions to this problem. The first solution was one that is still used frequently these days; the use of electronic (PDF) files to supply certificates. These PDFs are protected files that can be shared online, either on websites or through a file-sharing system. This solution proved to be very effective for a lot of the TIC bodies. So effective, in fact, that TIC bodies created QR codes for the PDF files. These are scannable codes that will provide the underlying PDF when scanned. An easy way to provide certificates to all those that request it.
However, most solutions have their limitations. This is true for the PDF solution as well. When a change is made within the certificate itself, it is currently impossible to push this change to all the outstanding electronic PDF’s. And also, if someone downloaded a PDF from a website, there is a chance that they will use this PDF to counterfeit a false certificate.
These two reasons ignited the 3rd generation of certificates, the digital certificates. A topic which we will discuss in another blog post soon.
Tomorrow is too late to anticipate your client’s current needs. It is essential for certification bodies to have a clear view of where their clients stand today. It could be very helpful to ask your current clients what their views are regarding online certificates. Are they already facing problems with their transparency? Do they feel the need to change from PDF to new certificate solutions? What do they think about the current flexibility of your organization?
It is hard to stay competitive and the consolidation of the market space does not help with that. For that reason, it is important to keep your business innovative, to search for the next way to amaze your clients. It is possible that clients change their needs, and therefore also change their TIC body. We will write about the 3 key innovations you can use to tackle their upcoming problems.
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