By way of PwC’s 2018 State of the Internal Audit Profession Study, we sought to understand how internal audit functions are building a technology and talent-enabled foundation to support their organisations’ innovation strategies.
More than 2,500 board members, senior executives and audit professionals in 92 territories weighed in on the use of technology in internal audit and the value the function is delivering. In Mainland China and Hong Kong, more than 240 key stakeholders and internal audit professionals also participated in our annual survey.
PwC identified eight essential emerging technologies expected to have significant global impact. More are on the horizon. We are reaching a technology-inflection point where powerful and accessible emerging technologies give organisations the opportunity to make leaps in productivity and market growth, while creating new products, services, and markets not yet imagined. Some of those new technologies, such as blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence, are starting to support, or even replace, certain decisions rather than just taking over the work of humans the way earlier automation has. That factor introduces a new realm of opportunity – but also risks – and the need for different controls.
Compared to the global figure of 14%, our study found that only 9% of internal audit functions in China are advanced in their technology adoption. We refer to that group as Evolvers. The percentage indicates a general view about the availability of talents and skills, alignment with business and stakeholders, as well as the organisation’s readiness in adopting the advanced and emerging technologies.
As a developing market, China has its distinctive corporate governance culture and practice. Business leaders are facing increasing challenges in the dynamic and diverse China market on corporate governance. The market and key stakeholders expect the internal audit function to take more roles to serve as a critical line of defence in the corporate governance ecosystem.
Availability of key skills, speed of technological change and cyber threats are among the top business threats identified by Chinese business leaders. Investments for business expansion and an innovation-driven economy call for talents with key skills as well as technology revolution.
China has shown great interests in the application of Governance, Risk and Compliance Management (GRC) technology tools. Although only 7% of the respondents are using the technology tools now, the number will radically increase to 37% within two years.
Throughout the audit cycle: from planning, risk assessment, testing program and reporting, compared to global peers, China still has some gap to fill in adopting data analytics, especially in advanced testing procedures.
There is a general consensus of the vast opportunities available in a greater adoption of foundational tools in the near future.
However, we see a gap in the adoption of data analytics by Chinese CEOs as compared to their global peers. But we are thrilled to find that Chinese executives use data analytics in risk identification to determine audit scope and planning on a regular basis.