Recently, I gave a session at Kuwait Association of Accountant and Auditors conference on how technology changes Auditing and Accounting landscapes. Through the decade, we see more firms embrace technology with the intent of using it in handling the big data challenge. The challenge is since data constantly grows, firms find it tough keeping up with extracting and analyzing sheer amounts of data values in providing insights and opportunities. Yet even with this challenge, there are firms that have not adopted advanced technology.
Today where rapid change is coupled with difficulties, I believe technology and data undoubtedly dominate the market. Firms should continue turning to technology for efficiently handling the big data challenge. We see four ways how incorporation of technology is changing Audit and Accounting landscapes.
"Today where rapid change is coupled with difficulties, I believe technology and data undoubtedly dominate the market"
Big Data Analytics
Massive data available in all sectors of the market has become difficult to handle. Since each transaction made is recorded into a system, it needs and to be taken into consideration for accounting matters and the use of big data analytics becomes vital. By using advanced analytical tools, sifting through troves of data and extracting only those that are relevant is made possible. In the current scenario, auditors need to be data focused and use big data analytics effectively. In fact, governments around the world are focusing on this transition. For instance, the United Kingdom issued a new regulation obligating auditors to perform data analytics before starting any audit job ultimately changing how they perform their job. The main reasons for relying on this is the cost reduction, efficiency, less human error and the leakage of information.
Years back, I remember our filing system, storage, and data gathering processes being manual across different departmental functions. Client collaboration meant both the client and professional needed to be at the same place and time. Auditors spent long periods manually inputting data and ensuring no errors were made. All changed once we adopted cloud computing technology. The benefits received from this technology inspired us to enhance it into our very own audit software; the KPMG Clara. KPMG Clara tool shows us that technology’s constant improvement enables its effective adaptation across different sectors and industries. It centralizes the way professionals access, store, and process data with remote access capability and secure digital data storage. It also aids better client collaboration through online permission-based data sharing which further adds transparency between the firm and client. Personally, I see this technology having boundless room for improvement.
"KPMG Clara tool shows us that technology’s constant improvement enables its effective adaptation across different sectors and industries"
Machine learning refers to machine technology where it continuously learns and teaches itself without the need for constant human programming. It does this by compiling lists of any recognizable patterns and irregularities based on historical data. Auditors are then able to perform necessary routine checks with the lists’ guide. It immensely helps in providing clients with better advice by extending the use of machine technology to predictive analytics based on historical data available.
Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation technology has extensively been adapted for business and audit use for some time now. Certain tasks are automatically executed by specific software. Gone are the days of manually pulling raw data, performing duplicate checks, progress tracking, and other menial tasks. With its use, firms benefit from data accuracy improvements, efficient data gathering, proficient manipulation, and faster task completions due to the reduced time professionals spend on manual tasks. Audit confirmation is currently fully automated at our firm while value-added tax returns are now robotically implemented by three GCC countries; namely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
The technology currently assists professionals in performing better and faster at a reduced rate of risk. But at the current pace change is happening, advancement of technology in the near future is unquestionably expected. And this brings us to a point, where one should anticipate technological advancement requiring us to develop and train our set of skills and abilities to maximize the benefits we can reap. Future auditors have to be smart to understand upcoming technology and be adaptive enough to embrace the change it brings.
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