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A world of opportunities in big data

Tai Thanh Vo, Practice Manager, Professional Services, ACL Asia | Dec. 9, 2015
Big data, combined with data analytics and data-driven GRC, holds the key to fundamentally changing the way companies operate and manage risk and compliance processes.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Accompanying the rapid advancement in technology is the growth of big data, a buzzword in today's increasingly complex processes of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) that blurs the lines between various functions within organisations.

Big data primarily includes traditional business sources of structured data, such as the millions of daily transactional records from retail, financial, manufacturing, or transportation/logistics industries. Now, there is also non-traditional or unstructured data that come from sources such as social media, end-user applications, human responses, or physical sensory recordings.

The deluge of data seems intimidating and the timely integration of analytics into the audit process continues to be a challenge for auditors. However, with a forward-looking vision and the implementation of the data-driven technology, internal auditors will not only be able to mitigate risks associated with big data, but turn it into their benefit by embracing big data to support effective continuous monitoring and auditing processes. Many of the aspects of big data provide great opportunities for transforming the way that audit, risk, and compliance professionals perform their work.

The challenging business environment, interrupted by control lapses, fraud incidents and regulatory fines, has also led to a constant uncertainty among organisations and board members who are seeking assurance from the three lines of defence to improve risk awareness, risk governance and compliance within the organisation.

Audit and compliance
The huge volume, variety and velocity at which data is becoming available has presented additional challenges such as how to obtain, secure, store and analyse the data on a more frequent and continuous basis. Ensuring timely and accurate information to key stakeholders against the backdrop of these extraordinary volumes of data is becoming increasingly critical considering the costs and company's resources involved.

As such, big data combined with data analytics and data-driven GRC hold the key to fundamentally changing the way companies operate and manage risk and compliance processes. Surrounded by a huge pool of data, companies often fail to find or utilise the information they need. Effective business processes require timely access to relevant and accurate data which, in turn, relies on the data quality and how it is being maintained and secured across the enterprise architecture. Data availability and integrity have become one of the biggest concerns for many organisations.

In fact, many of the fundamental techniques and concepts underlying big data processes have much in common with those that leading audit and compliance teams have been applying for years. Typically, the use of data analysis to support the audit process involves looking into entire populations of data from a variety of databases. Now, auditors are interested in new and innovative sources of internally and externally-generated data to widen and deepen the search for risk, fraud and compliance issues.


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