These numbers show that instead of resisting change, companies are embracing the efficiencies of this new technology and exploring how individual businesses can leverage automation and, more importantly, artificial intelligence – aka robots. It's important to emphasize that the goal is not to curtail employees but to find ways to leverage the robots to automate everyday tasks or detail-oriented processes and focus the employees on higher-value activities. When performing an audit, many companies randomly sample roughly 20% of expense reports to identify potential waste and fraud. It is clear that in order to ensure future profitability, it is crucial for businesses to understand and take advantage of the significant role that robots can play in dramatically enhancing financial operations.
I have worked for a couple of decades with professional services firms that perform financial audits, but I have never done one--nor have I ever wanted to do one, to be honest. I'm not good with work that involves structured processes, details, and rigorous checking, and audits always seemed heavily infused with those kinds of tasks. Now, however, I am becoming quite interested in audits for two reasons. First, they are beginning to employ substantial amounts of analytics. Secondly, there is increasing talk about employing cognitive technologies to help with audits. Both of those approaches are right up my alley. So in this essay, I will address their potential impact on audits and auditing. I'll discuss the entire industry but will make specific references to Deloitte & Touche LLP's audit practice, since I recently wrote a paper on their analytics initiatives.1