New technologies are developing at a rapid pace as the digitisation of our world increases. The ability to gather ever more data and analyse it in increasingly sophisticated ways brings exciting new possibilities to businesses of all kinds. For us in the audit profession, emerging technologies are equally exciting and significant. Not least because they are likely to be a powerful driver to improve audit quality.
The ability that new technology such as robotic process automation brings to analyse 100% of datasets, rather than relying on sampling, provides obvious benefits. With automated technology, we are able to identify and review a client’s processes and, using process mining, explore them in depth – bringing the most effective audit approach to the engagement. This automation frees up the auditor’s time to focus their efforts more on areas of greater risk or uncertainty, to ask more focused questions and gain an even deeper understanding of the business.
The power of robotics, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and, in time, deep learning will mean that an audit may become deeper and further-reaching than ever before, based on increasingly granular and sophisticated analysis of data. Combined with the integration of applications on our smart audit platform, KPMG Clara, its flexible deployment in the cloud, and with such capabilities as Dynamic Risk Assessment that enables us to analyse risk in four dimensions, we are well-placed to develop ever more powerful capabilities. The development of these tools will also help drive consistency across geographies and enable our audit to adapt and respond to the unique risks within a business.
The fundamentals of an audit will not change – the need for human judgment and professional scepticism will always be necessary – but the real use case for new technologies is that they will enable us to obtain, more easily and quickly and accurately and extensively than ever before, the corroborating evidence that is needed in an audit.
Meanwhile, the development of blockchain, cloud enablements and, perhaps, better integrated ERP systems with accounting technologies could create an exciting new infrastructure within which intelligent tools can be utilised to full effect – all contributing to higher quality audits and building greater trust and confidence in the capital markets.
We are committed to working closely with audit committees and management to help them understand how new technology can be integrated into an audit to deliver ever more robust assurance.