Virginia Gambale, Managing Partner for Azimuth Partners and Director for JetBlue Airways, was the speaker for the opening session of this year's GAM. During the presentation she threw out a quick thought about how organizations are looking at the emerging opportunities that exist with social media, the cloud, and the ubiquity of personal devices toward changing the way those organizations deliver their products and services.
I watched a portion of the 1,000 auditors nod their heads in agreement. For me, the reason I was nodding my head had more to do with the three-hour time difference (I still think it is 5:30 in the morning.) However, I also had the nasty feeling that, once again, people sitting in on a presentation (and, I'm not just picking on auditors – it happens to everyone) were agreeing because they were very focused on the mote in someone else's eye.
In this particular instance, we better be taking a look at the beam within our own eye.
I know of few (if any) audit shops that are looking at the new technologies and trying to figure how they can be used to better deliver our services. And don't talk to me about how you have gone paperless; don't talk to me about how you now use email to deliver reports. That was the 20th century. It is not using social media; it is not using personal devices; it is not using the cloud. (And let's further not talk about the number of audit shops I've spoken with who haven't even moved their workpapers to paperless.)
I see far too many audit shops mired in the past, and it is reflected in their work. First, it is reflected in the way they evaluate organizations. They understand there are new risks, but they do not understand the way business is fundamentally changing. Second, they do not realize that, with the emerging technologies and changing ways to do business, auditing needs to similarly adapt, discovering how it can leverage these tools to do their jobs more efficiently and (probably more importantly – the aspect we often forget) more effectively.
Throughout the presentation, Gambale talked about the things that are impacting organizations and the way they are changing service and product delivery. And, no matter what many of the people in the general session might have thought, she was talking to us.
Next time there is a discussion about how organizations need to change, don't listen to it and think "boy, my company really needs this". Instead, listen and think "internal audit will become irrelevant unless we pay attention."