The dodo was a flightless bird that became extinct due to humans. Are auditors about to go the way of the dodo due to Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI is constantly in the news and the focus is often on whether AI will be replacing humans in many professions, including auditing. The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics has led to speculation that auditors may become the next “dodos” – this time becoming obsolete by being replaced by machines. In reality such fears are likely to be unfounded. Used correctly, AI in auditing should complement the profession. Rather than facing extinction, auditors should be transforming to use AI to their advantage.
1. Auditing involves a broad range of tasks – understanding business processes, assessing internal controls, assessing risk, audit testing, etc. AI can assist with a lot of these tasks. By leveraging AI to handle mundane and repetitive tasks, auditors can provide more value-added recommendations and services to the client.
2. The human touch is something that can not be replaced. Auditors possess crucial skills that machines can not replicate. Auditing requires professional judgement and critical thinking – things not possessed by AI. Each business has its unique traits and complexities; the auditor needs to understand these. Not everything is black and white and judgments need to be made.
3. Trust is critical in an auditor-client relationship. A client will not be able to develop a trusted relationship with AI. While AI might be great at data processing, it does not have emotional intelligence or empathy. Trust is often built around conversations auditors have with the client both during, and at the end of the audit. These conversations will not happen with AI.
4. As AI becomes more prevalent in auditing, ensuring the critical use of AI and maintaining transparency in the decision-making process is paramount. Auditors play a crucial role in using AI in audits and ensuring its use is ethical.
5. AI can be used to understand and analyse complex data and information, identify risk areas, generate specific audit programs and review source documents. The outcomes and information will still need to be analysed and utilised appropriately by the auditor.
AI has the ability to transform and enhance the efficiency of audits so, rather than being feared, the use of AI should be embraced. Auditors are far from becoming the next dodos. It is up to auditors to transform the audit industry using AI to their benefit.
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