Advances in technology are affecting every profession, and audit is no exception. Just as the practice and management of audit were influenced by much earlier developments, like computerized accounting systems, the audit is now being influenced by developments such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and cognitive systems, not to mention data analytics and the potential for 100 percent sampling, as well as a host of internet-based technologies.
As with any new technology, it can be difficult to predict with accuracy how the developments will shape the practice of audit, how quickly, or which advances will have the most impact. Bill Gates, famously, almost missed the internet. But some emerging technologies are already impacting some of the bigger firms and even some smaller firms and audit entities, too.
Many aspects of the audit are shifting to digital as companies try to do more with less for several reasons:
Enrollment in accounting programs is declining, and many accounting majors are not seeking the CPA credential as they don’t believe they will realize a return on the investment
Experienced accounting professionals from the Baby Boomer generation are retiring from the workforce faster than firms can onboard and train their replacements
Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain technology have the potential to vastly automate accounting processes in compliance with regulatory requirements and disrupt auditing practices
The technology solutions a firm and its clients use play a crucial role in making these changes possible. But perhaps just as crucial is a shift in mindset.