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Confidence in the future: Human and machine collaboration in the audit

Today, organisations in every profession are experimenting with emerging technologies and facing the reality of a disruptive tidal wave. Now audit faces a game-changing moment of its own. Technology has already improved audit quality, but how might newer technologies like artificial intelligence deliver greater insight and better judgement?


In the audit, automation is already making audits faster, smarter and reducing the risk of error. Detailed transaction testing is making the process much less manual and greatly reducing time spent. The use of drones in the audit is also bringing efficiencies.

We believe there are a number of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, natural language generation and virtual reality that have the potential to augment the audit and deliver benefits to companies. Where does that leave human auditors?

By operating with a clear set of programmable parameters and relying on logic, machines give much greater comfort when processing data. But someone will always be needed to programme the machine, guide the AI and offer experience as the basis from which they can learn.

To read more about how emerging technologies are impacting the audit, download our report below. 

"Auditors shouldn’t stay still when the prize for all, brought about by technology, is an altogether better audit."

Gilly Lord, Head of Audit Strategy and Transformation

Will human auditors be replaced by machines or enhanced by them?

Assurance and emerging tech

The AI-enhanced audit

Although in its infancy, artificial intelligence (AI) is already being used to make the audit process better. We’re using AI to spot patterns and anomalies in large bodies of structured data. Any problems identified are recognised and remembered by the machine, which then “learns” from its experiences and applies the learning to the next set of data.

Natural language generation and processing

In the past, a big advantage that humans had over machines rested on our ability to speak and read “natural language”. That’s changing. Intelligent machines can now analyse and translate a vast amount of structured data into a plain English summary. This could be applied to corporate reporting: a machine could take general ledgers, sub-ledgers and other accounting records to write a summary that gives a balanced view of a company’s performance.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality could be used to train auditors, dropping them into a simulation of day-to-day audit situations to improve their experience. Using the vast amounts of data we capture in the audit process, we could also use VR to help companies visualise the data in new, more illuminating ways.

Contact us

Hemione  Hudson

Hemione Hudson

Head of Audit, PwC United Kingdom

Gilly Lord

Gilly Lord

Head of Audit Strategy & Public Policy, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7804 8123

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