The technology landscape changes at such speed that most of us have trouble trying to keep up. Smartphones, apps, and social media often leave our heads spinning with their constant updates. As soon as you master a newly launched technology, there’s another one on the horizon. Imagine the difficulty in wrapping your head around this rapid change at the business level.
Fifty-two percent of business and IT leaders rate their organization’s digital IQ—a measure of an organization’s capability to get strategic value from technology investments—as strong in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2017 Digital IQ survey. This is a significant drop from previous years: 67 percent in 2016 and 66 percent in 2015.
While businesses see the value in adopting new technologies, many of them have not adapted quickly enough to keep up with the technology curve. Technology and business are inseparable, so businesses that neglect to embrace this relationship are sure to fail. For internal auditors, that means understanding the evolving risk landscape related to the business and learning to use technology in their work.
“There is no business today that is not driven by data,” says Dominique Vincenti, Nordstrom’s vice president of Internal Audit and Financial Controls. In our cover story, “In Safe Hands” (page 26), Vincenti says businesses need to fundamentally reassess what data means to their organizations going forward. New laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (going into effect spring 2018) will require companies to have more control over what data can be held and how it can be used.
More importantly, the increased risks from ransomware attacks, data breaches, blockchain adoption, the Internet of Things, use of artificial intelligence, and data collection and its ethical use—the list goes on and on—beg the question: Are internal auditors equipped to handle the technology embedded into business practices?
IT expertise among internal auditors is now a general expectation, according to “Great Tech Expectations” (page 32). Author Russell Jackson says today’s internal audit new hires who have grown up with smartphones and technology often have more advanced IT skills on day one than their predecessors. Office Depot’s Chief Audit Executive Jennifer Goschke stresses that “it’s important to have IT subject matter experts on your team to provide the technical chops to be able to go head to head with IT.” But while auditors with IT experience are still in high demand, they continue to be hard to find, afford, and retain.
Technology will continue to disrupt and change the business landscape at an increasingly rapid pace—what some futurists call The Fourth Industrial Revolution. One thing is certain: Organizations that resist that change will not survive.