The data age provides businesses with information for decisions at lightning speed. At the same time, they are looking for assurance about the interpretation of data. An audit gives them that. Often, an independent check of the figures provides more insights than companies realise. That story behind the figures – translated and told by KPMG people – adds value.

The value of an audit

Most companies need to provide (financial) accountability every year – to shareholders, banks, creditors, regulators and other stakeholders within the societal setting. The compulsory financial audit casts a critical eye over the functioning of important parts of the organisation. “In the annual financial statements, the effects of a large number of processes that have been taking place come together", says Marc Hogeboom of KPMG. This is crucial now that new technology is changing the world and inundating it with data.

Growth detracts from overall perspective

But however much companies value all that innovation and information, it also raises questions. Which is why the desire for a coherent story behind the data is growing. Hogeboom: “Now that computers are faster and better than ever, people feel less sure about the ‘computer’ between their ears. They don't want to make any mistakes. In that situation, help and confirmation in the form of critical and independent scrutiny are of great value. Initially, owners know exactly where the profitability of their firms lie. But as the company grows, that overall perspective disappears and you need to rely more and more on systems and processes."

People driven progress

Innovative data and analytics technology is very important in this regard. But a clear story behind the data is impossible without the knowledge of talented people. In KPMG’s view, technology only generates progress when harnessed to human insight and creativity: people driven progress.

“Auditing is still a job for people" - Marc Hogeboom

“We can make the most brilliant analyses, but the output still needs to be translated and explained. If I can't explain to an audit customer how or where he is losing money, I am of little value to him. An audit is still a job for people. We analyse data and turn it into a comprehensible story."

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