By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Special Features Writer
Digital innovation has been changing a lot of processes, from how people perform daily routines to how businesses execute tasks. Just like other industries, the audit profession is following the fast pace of digitization as Sharon G. Dayoan, chairman and chief executive officer of KPMG R.G. Manabat & Co., observed.
For Ms. Dayoan, auditors have started taking advantage of the latest technological advances such as data & analytics (D&A), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive technologies, and robotics to expand the capacities of auditing firms and so improve the services they offer.
“For instance, the adoption of smart automation and AI in the field of accounting led to overall improvement in the accounting process which allowed accountants and audit professionals to simplify and lighten their workload by automating time-consuming tasks while ensuring accurate results,” Ms. Dayoan told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.
Audit professionals, she added, are also utilizing the capabilities of data analytics software to help with their audit processes by identifying outliers and analyzing these for audit risk factors.
With such advancements digitization has provided to make auditing faster, easier, and more reliable, KPMG has followed suit by making investments in both technology and workforce development to ensure that they have the right makeup and skills, thus equipped to provide its clients with the best services.
A very important investment the professional services firm has undertaken is the KPMG Clara, an integrated smart audit platform that brings out its Audit D&A capabilities, new technologies, client collaboration functionality, and audit workflow.
Poised to be “the beginning of a new era for audit,” Ms. Dayoan said that this new offering by KPMG provides a new and richer experience to both clients and audit professionals.
“KPMG Clara allows our people to work smarter, driving enhanced audit quality through expanded analytics capabilities,” she explained. “For clients, KPMG Clara becomes their digital connection to KPMG, providing one coherent, interconnected ecosystem. It provides a collaborative and interactive environment in which two-way and interactive communication between clients and KPMG audit teams is extremely enhanced.”
This smart audit platform, the senior officer added, gives clients greater visibility into KPMG’s audit as well as access to deeper levels of information.
Moreover, KPMG Clara is set to be placed on Microsoft Azure, a comprehensive cloud-based platform, as announced by KPMG and Microsoft. This makes the firm the first among the Big Four professional services firms to conduct external financial statement audits using Microsoft’s computing platform.
“KPMG Clara brings more automation to the audit, and reduces the burden on clients around data delivery,” Ms. Dayoan continued. “Through KPMG Clara, the judgment and professional skepticism of KPMG’s audit professionals are now further empowered by intelligent automation and innovative analytics capabilities. Along with higher audit quality, clients will receive greater and more actionable insights as the audit progresses. We are able to have more focused and targeted conversations with clients about specific issues or exceptions — deepening the value of the audit you receive.”
While shifting to digitization brings great benefits, issues and challenges may still be encountered during the process. Adapting to changes in the business process is in itself a challenge, while the threat of technological risks might catch firms off guard.
KPMG, nonetheless, does not overlook these imminent conflicts and so are prepared to assist clients. “We help our clients embrace a culture of change by helping them to better understand and manage technology, cyber and information risks,” Ms. Dayoan said. “We also help align our clients’ capabilities with their strategic and tactical objectives to give them the means to meet their current and future needs relating to governance, risk, and control over IT resources.”
As it recognizes digitization as a driving force in the transformation of businesses, KPMG is geared up to better help its clients make the most out of it.
“Our industry solutions in financial services, consumer markets, technology, media and telecommunications, among others, can help our clients achieve the optimal value from their digital transformation process,” Ms. Dayoan said.
She added, “KPMG is gearing towards innovation in the audit process by applying digital technology in our businesses and audit processes which include audit of new technologies like robots and artificial machines. Through this, we are able to keep up the quality of the audit and the requirement of clients to receive value for money.”