What is the trend and why has it come about?
Technologies are now more commercially accessible with more functionality than ever before. This is driving endless possibilities for diverse teams, in multiple locations and different time zones who can connect in real-time, multi-media formats in an unprecedented way. Combining this with socially responsible travel means the virtual IA function is not just achievable but desirable. Internal Audit functions are now immersed in a virtual world with technology impacting all aspects of the IA lifecycle from Risk Assessment to Action tracking. This means that fieldwork can be done remotely, actions can be workflowed, risk themes can be enriched with external data and IA functions can embrace agile.
How will it impact IA?
The future IA involves virtual and globalised teams, interacting in real-time, utilising continuous and dynamic risk assessments, drawing on real-time and broader sources of information (in both structured and unstructured formats), predicting risk exposures and responding with agile actionable plans which avoid risk exposure, collaborating directly with stakeholders and auditees resulting in iterative and dynamic feedback cycles with high speed agreed, management actions.
No longer will auditees be kept at arms-length. Technology will allow them access to and transparency around activities and facilitate self-service as well drive greater trust and confidence in IA. While all this is positive, there is a cautionary tale around ensuring security underpins all technological advances.
How to future-proof IA: Practical steps
- Work out what technology you have available already - not just in IA
- Assess the digital fitness of the IA team
- Develop a realistic investment strategy
- Refresh your operating model to take advantage of this trend e.g. virtual fieldwork and data analytics in advance of fieldwork to provide areas of focus.
- Adopt a "digital first mindset" when planning the audit execution.