As 2019 presents itself, it’s time to take a look at the year ahead and make some predictions about internal audit trends. Well-known organisations like Gartner and Deloitte have recently released reports exploring this topic. We’ll take a look at their predictions to help you prepare for the new year.
While business data analytics can have some undeniable and powerful benefits to companies, it also requires companies to collect and process large amounts of data. As such, concerns naturally arise about how to safely manage sensitive information. The added pressure of GDPR regulations certainly doesn’t make the situation any easier.
As Malcolm Murray, Vice President of Gartner, explains “recent high-profile data breaches and increased public attention have raised the stakes for organisational accountability, and it’s only going to get tougher in 2019.”
CAEs will need to closely monitor data governance policies to ensure safeguards are in place to protect against data breaches and GDPR violations. Depending on their organisation, they might need to create formal data governance frameworks from scratch as only 37% of companies have such safeguards in place. If you need to create a data governance framework, we recommend getting started by taking stock of all data assets across the business, examining employees’ security training and skill sets and then developing a data classification policy.
Alongside examining data governance procedures, CAEs and internal audit professionals will also need to consider data protection safeguards. Many companies have already adopted emerging technologies, like chatbots or Internet of Things (IoT), and this trend is only expected to continue in the New Year. As companies integrate more and more technology, they become increasingly vulnerable to data security breaches.
While these new technologies certainly bring many exciting advantages and have the potential to streamline the internal audit process, it’s also important to consider any vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks. Failing to protect your data properly could have some serious impacts such as material losses, a temporary loss of files or networks, or damaged or corrupted computer software of systems. Moreover, cyber-attacks can also negatively impact the brand’s reputation, lead to a loss of clients and customers, and impact the company’s quality of service.
It’s important for CAEs not to lose sight of security risks to allow companies to capture the benefits of these new technologies without leaving themselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
As 2018 showed, global and regional markets are going through a transition period. From crazed politicians declaring trade wars to new regulations on data governance and economic decline, businesses are operating within uncertain times, which makes it difficult for auditors to accurately assess market and external risks and creates challenges for establishing scenario planning and long-term strategies. And, with Brexit looming on the horizon, this situation isn’t expected to get any better.
However, these instabilities could also produce new opportunities for companies or have less of a negative impact than previously thought. Depending on who you ask, emerging government policies could even lead to less red tape and actually benefit companies. Unfortunately, many details are still to be determined and we’ll need to wait and see how the cards fall so to speak.
One of the emerging trends discussed in Deloitte's report was the need for specific skill sets. At present, companies sometimes struggle to find and retain individuals with the right skills; for example, an ability to understand and use data analytics within audits.
As one Deloitte study participant said, “It is increasingly difficult to find and retain people that combine optimally technology and business audit skill sets, with the right interpersonal and softer skills to continue to drive together business and IT audit for truly integrated approaches that add value”.
While the existing skills shortage could be considered a negative trend, it also creates exciting opportunities for internal audit professionals. Those with the required skill set can easily find promising new career opportunities, while those without could upskill to boost their competitiveness and potential to secure choice positions within well-known companies. Companies could also provide training opportunities to current staff members to provide new learning opportunities and help them retain top talent. A win, win situation for both companies and employees.
New Year, New Opportunities
Whether you’re looking to recruit internal audit professionals or find a new position, Change Recruitment can help. We have access to some of the best and brightest candidates as well as great internal audit job openings. Learn more by speaking with one of our international accountancy and finance recruitment specialist today.
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Join us as we take an in-depth look at the role of data analytics within internal audits and its impact on those already working (and recruiting) in the industry.