by Matt Bishop
KPMG is implementing innovative technologies to adapt to virtual audits in a post-pandemic environment.
The Audit practice will deploy 150 smart glasses this year, enabling the firm to conduct remote inventory reviews supported by a system of quality control. The new technology enhances audit quality, while protecting the health and safety of those who work for the companies we audit, as well as our professionals, by bringing market-leading innovation to inventory observations.
Last year, the Audit practice made a proactive investment in virtual technology that enabled it to respond effectively to challenges posed by the COVID-19 health crisis. It began piloting the technology with several engagement teams at that time. The practice expects to incorporate the technology into its toolkit to enhance audit quality and deliver an exceptional client experience in a post-pandemic environment.
Smart Glasses are another tool to be paired with today’s tech-savvy auditors, but they don’t replace auditors’ professional skepticism, said Christian Peo, National Managing Partner, Audit Quality and Professional Practice.
“Smart glasses provide seamless, two-way, real-time communications that empower auditors to conduct remote inventory observations with the same efficiency as we did when on-site,” he said. “It's a tool, not a crutch, and when used properly, they really deliver a modern audit experience.”
KPMG Audit compared several options, assessing the software and hardware for functionality and security, before conducting pilots and tests.
The pilot tests made it clear: smart glasses provide a modern experience. Live, high-resolution video, with noise-cancelling technology enables conversations, allowing the auditor to provide clear instructions during inventory observations. A representative from the client wears the glasses, which sends a livestream of the video to the auditor, who is seeing the inventory review through their computer. The auditor can enlarge images and adjust lighting features to scrutinize the inventory.
Clients also seem to like the technology.
"Audit technology typically is deployed behind the scenes, within our work in risk assessment. Here, clients have been excited to engage with the technology, and more importantly are realizing surprising benefits," added Peo.
The glasses save time and enhance audit quality. One team found that a single remote count took five hours using Smart Glasses compared to what typically would have required a three-day time commitment. Also, because of the virtual platform, engagement partners and managers along with subject matter leads can quickly address inventory questions that may arise and troubleshoot issues in real-time.
There may be additional safety benefits for clients. Walking around wearing smart glasses is physically safer as opposed looking down at a smart phone or tablet. Moreover, coordinating with engagement team leaders during the observation is less intrusive than coordinating in-person walk-throughs.