I spent the first five years of my career as a CPA/Auditor with KPMG in Minneapolis, so a recent research report from them caught my eye. It was especially interesting to me because I was on the cutting edge with using advanced technologies in 1984 when I was leading one of the first teams to use Apple Computers for audits in our office. I also have memories (not necessarily fond) of lugging 3 large cases containing the computer, monitor and printer through the airport on our way to an audit in Fargo, ND.
The Digital Transformation study was conducted in April 2017 in conjunction with Forbes Insights and included interviews with CFO’s, controllers and other financial executives. They found that virtually all of the executives believe that advanced technologies can enhance financial reporting and external audit, but that many organizations still have a way to go since only 26% said that advanced technologies are a “must-have” within the next 1 to 2 years.
The top advanced technologies used in the finance function and the percentage of respondents using them are:
- Predictive analysis (78%)
- Workflow automation (75%)
- Robotics (38%)
- Natural language processing (35%)
The study also indicated that the key implementation benefits for advanced technologies for financial reporting are:
From an auditing perspective, organizations want their auditors to be using advanced technologies and see value in the following areas:
The report concludes by acknowledging that “harnessing advanced technologies is key to remaining competitive in the digital age.” Given the accelerating pace of technological advancements, financial executives should also reconsider their sense of urgency for applying advanced technologies to improve or streamline their processes.