3 Questions to Ask When Evaluating an Emerging Technology Trend

Artificial intelligence. Blockchain. Internet of Things (IoT) – We’ve been hearing more about emerging technologies coming to market and exploring which ones will add the most value. Audit leaders are calling this digital transformation the “Future of Audit.”


Data-driven technology will revolutionize the profession; both in terms of the potential insights to be gained and the opportunity to streamline workflows to achieve optimal efficiency.


According to the Deloitte 2018 Global Chief Audit Executive research survey, internal audit functions are innovating in areas from advanced analytics, robotic process automation (RPA), dynamic and visual reporting, among others. The survey sites 71 percent of CAEs plan to increase their investment in innovation.


Staying ahead of technological changes is the difference between the leading and the one being left behind. We’ve seen a trend among data analytics users as they move along the maturity model from traditional and ad hoc analysis towards automated processes and continuous monitoring. By using technology to reduce manual work, auditors can cover more ground in less time across more areas of the business.


For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a trend among audit professionals. AI extends the power of information technology tasks traditionally performed by humans. It mimics intelligent human behaviors, is self-evolving and continually adjusting. In the context of audits, AI still requires humans for data preparation, initial exploratory analysis and the ability to interpret results. Likewise, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing are examples of other emerging technologies that will have significant impacts on the future of audit.


Evaluating and implementing any of these emerging technologies should begin by asking the right questions – here are three to consider:


1. How does this emerging technology align with the business goals?

Begin with a meeting of the minds to review business objectives and evaluate how the technology fits into the goals you’re working to achieve. Top-down buy-in is critical to success. Consider the risks, costs and disruptions associated with adopting a new solution.


For example, as organizations leverage new technologies, more data is created. To prevent leaks, auditors must understand the impact of cybersecurity IT controls. The key to successfully adopting a new technological solution is to communicate. Initial discussions should include stakeholders, the IT department and the audit team.


2.  What skills are required to implement the new technology?

While the benefits of adopting a new technology may be clear, there is a human factor to consider. Are there experts within the company that can be tapped to lead the implementation? What training is required to ensure staff effectively use these new tools to achieve success and ROI? Is there adequate training budget available?


3.  How will technology integrate with other systems and processes in your organization?

Audit committees should look for a solution that can connect to several solutions. The ability to integrate easily with other technologies creates the possibility to bring together audit areas such as finance, operations and IT. The possibility to leverage these areas into a single audit streamlines audit processes and prevents knowledge silos.


When information flows freely between departments, auditors can provide better insights into the risks of the process. An interconnected solution also allows auditors to tap into legacy data. Integrating old and new systems create a consolidated view of the data, which can speed up organizational change by enabling the detection of more trends and patterns.


Adopting new technology can be daunting, but the potential benefits outweigh the effort. A well-planned, integrated approach can lead to greater efficiency and competitive advantage.


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