After three days filled with auditors, firms, software vendors and everything in between, the 2018 GAM was a special blend of thought leaders from around the globe. Some of the brightest minds in the industry were on hand to provide insight and perspective on all things audit – with a few areas sticking out to all of those in attendance.
AI – Artificial Intelligence/Robotics
For the second time in as many years, Artificial Intelligence was a topic impossible to avoid – much like its expected impact on the industry’s future. While many speakers touched on the impact it has had in test environments and early adopters, a common trend was something that wasn’t immediately expected – fear! Most attendees are auditors themselves, or lead audit teams in a Chief/Director of Audit role. The implementation of AI and Robotic systems will ultimately lead to the decrease in demand for audit work hours, and surely, auditors themselves. As the thought of audit team size shrinking in coming years looking like a sure thing, a few speakers provided some comfort and reassurance to those in attendance.
In short, automated systems like AI and Robotics are going to be great for taking repetitive, manual tasks out of human hands. However, these systems will need to be observed and checked for accuracy a LOT early on. Furthermore, the systems themselves are a source for additional auditing needs – creating additional work for perhaps smaller audit teams in the future. Finally, a few of the Chief Audit Officers in attendance are expecting that, while the repetitive parts of the audit team jobs may move to automated systems, their newly found “free time” won’t necessarily translate to job loss or going home early! In face, these executives plan to challenge their teams to spend their newly freed up time into areas that are maybe not investigated as thoroughly as they should be – providing a more complete audit of the business, aided in part by AI.
Another hot trend continues to be the need for analytics, and finding the appropriate ways to use graphical representations of data. As more and more companies seek software packages to provide documentation sharing, workflow and reporting capabilities, the visual representation of this data becomes even more critical. Executive teams don’t wish to look through numbers and decipher data – instead, graphics provide a high level overview of the audit and quickly show where gaps may be, tests have failed, or any other arrangement of data.
Agile – EVERYONE Needs to be!
On more than one occasion, attendees pointed out that their small audit team was “too small to be agile”, and could invest time/effort into becoming more agile. This is exactly the reason why you’d want to be more agile! Small audit teams particularly don’t have the luxury of moving work from one group to another. In fact, many auditors work long hours and are overworked during “crunch time”. Investing time in automating as many processes as possible and improving communication will greatly improve agility and reduce the overload of work that many teams feel.
Stay tuned for more information from the 2018 General Audit Management Conference, trends, analysis, and what we can look forward to next year!