New technologies can expand internal audit's capabilities, said panelists at this morning's opening general session of The IIA's General Audit Management Conference in Dallas. The session moderated by Harold Silverman, IIA managing director, CAE Solutions, featured panelists Brian Foster, general manager, Internal Audit at Microsoft Corp.; Stephen Mills, managing director at Promontory Financial Group; and Christa Steele, owner of ChristaSteele.com.
Foster listed the technologies and tools that internal audit should be using today to prepare for tomorrow, including:
- Collaboration tools.
- Data tools and metrics.
- Deep data analytics.
- Predictive tools.
- Natural language processing.
- A defined artificial intelligence (AI) audit framework.
He said internal audit should be building capabilities such as:
- Business acumen.
- Trusted advisor.
- Growth mindset.
- Technical insights — using technology to drive predictive analysis.
- Data-driven storytelling.
- Point of view — customer obsessed.
"If we can move away from tasks and more toward insights, we're going to be better off," Foster said. If internal audit evolves, he noted, it will not only remain relevant, it will also become a strategic partner.
In his presentation, Mills told the audience, "Potential capabilities are rapidly evolving even as we speak in terms of their usage and applications." He referenced robotic process automation, cognitive automation, and AI.
"It's very much about an audit management challenge," Mills said. It's a call to action for senior leaders about how they are going to use these tools in their organizations. There are not enough internal auditors with the skills to get the best value out of these tools, he added. CAEs needs to hire the right people.
Mills went on to say that because The IIA's Certified Internal Auditor certification is the skill-based qualification of the internal audit profession, "As we move forward, it's going to increasingly be the qualification that identifies you as an expert in this [disruptive] field."
Steele told the audience it's time to move beyond just being educated on these new technologies to implementation. She added that the line between audit and risk functions is blurring. Internal audit needs to step up. "If you're not forcing a discussion in the boardroom on what's outside the norm, you're failing the organization," she said.
Steele encouraged the audience to be willing to be vulnerable and candid when they're talking about what they're auditing versus what they should be auditing. And, "Go beyond typical reporting," she urged. "Interpret, predict, prevent."
Steele concluded by telling the audience, "Don't just take the direction; set the direction."