Big data refers to a set of data with high volume and complexity. The scope of big data is predominantly beyond the traditional data-processing software to capture, manage and process, while analytics is the process turning raw data into meaningful conclusion for decision-making. Both big data and analytics are set to transform the audit industry, and as a result, the role of an auditor as well.
How Will the Audit Profession Change?
The auditing cycle has remained relatively unchanged since the advent of classic audit. However, it is expected to radically change over the next few years due to the big data that has transforming how businesses operate. With the rise of computerized accounting, where paper trails are being replaced with digital records, auditors must catch-up with the relevant skills and technologies to perform more efficient audits.
The driver of big data application on audit is the clients. Since the usage of big data in many companies’ business operations have become relatively common, an auditor without sufficient knowledge will struggle to understand the clients’ business, which is essential in providing assurance, identifying risks and detecting frauds.
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Audit
What Are the Implications for the Audit Profession?
Big data and analytics are widely predicted to transform the way audits are conducted, especially in the areas of risk assessment. For instance, analytics enable the access to the entire database and mining the data to obtain key elements. This allows deeper and more relevant insights, making it easier for auditors to focus on the main areas of concern, and to point out the high-risk areas with strong evidence.
By integrating analytics into audit and accounting, auditors are now expected to deliver more enhanced quality and coverage, as well as provide more business value to companies. The managements and stakeholders seek improvements in business analytics and quality of data for better forecasting and decision-making. This actually helps to create more opportunities for auditors because they can now perform with greater assurance.
Why Having Some Knowledge in Big Data and Analytics is Key for Future Audit Graduates to Succeed?
Following the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the big data and technology are transforming the auditing industry. The rapid changes in the business world require professionals across all industries to constantly learn and adapt to the ever-changing working landscape. Therefore, as a recent audit graduate, you must be ready to continuously upskill yourself in order to stay relevant, because what you previously learned in your university degree can quickly become out-of-date if you remain complacent.
Talents with analytical skill is a starting to be a pre-requisite for many recruiters and employers. According to a Deloitte survey, 96% of the respondents says that analytics will become more important to their organizations within the next 3 years. On the other hand, audit managers often look for practitioner with analytical skills, as the report by Institute of Internal Auditors suggests that these people have higher probability of overcoming any technical deficiencies and stepping up to meet stakeholders’ value-added expectations’.
Interested to Venture into Audit? Anticipate These Changes and be Ready to Learn
This may all seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help.
For starters, you can begin learning the basics of data science and programming languages. When you’re comfortable solving simple problems with the programming languages, you can then move on to further develop your analytical and database skills. With all the big data technologies and analytical tools with open source, you can then try solving your big data problems.
Your university degree may or may not cover the relevant knowledge. Fortunate enough, platforms like Coursera and Udemy now have partnership with leading universities, and even the Big Four audit firms, to provide online courses covering various subjects. These courses will not only enable you to learn beyond the classroom, but also allow you to learn at your own pace. Additionally, some of them even provide certification upon completion, which can prove to be useful to empower your CV and graduate applications.
The audit standards will likely continue to evolve over the next few years. Therefore, auditors today must be trained and reskilled from time to time, to ensure they have the skill set that meet the demand of the future of work. That being said, the transformation will not occur overnight – the audit profession will need time for the massive leap ahead to fully adapt to the technology changes.