The Impact of Digitization in the Audit Process

Merve Taspinar & Fadime Taspinar

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how digitalization disrupts the audit process, with a focus on the use of robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics. Therefore, this thesis will contain an analysis of how the elements of the audit process are affected by digitalization. As a result of this we also provide an analysis of how this development would impact the assurance level, which is given by the auditor in the audit report. In addition, the thesis also includes an analysis of the competencies needed for the future auditor in a digital world. Finally the possibilities and limitations of all three analysis will be discussed.By using secondary literature about robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics as well as International Standards on Auditing (ISA-standards) regarding the audit report and legislations regarding the role of the auditor when giving assurance to a firm’s annual report in the audit report, the thesis seeks to answer the questions above. In addition, other secondary literature as reports, internet and articles have also been incorporated. Furthermore, the thesis also includes primary data as we have interviewed 9 auditors respectively from Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Ernst & Young (EY) which all have experience in using robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics. All of the interviewed respondents are state-authorized public accountants and some of them are even responsible for the audit innovation function in the respective firm.Based on the obtained data, it has been possible to conclude that especially the execution of the audit and the reporting of the audit findings are the areas, where there is a potential for disruption. The other elements of the audit process as customer accept, planning and final phase can just partly be automatized because of the need for professional skepticism. The overall benefit of using digital tools is the possibility to test all transactions, increased audit quality, opportunity to discover fraud and improved audit planning. The barriers to these benefits are that data availability is needed when using digital tools, data security must be ensured and using digital tools requires the correct competencies.Moreover, the thesis points out that the use of digital tools is still at an early stage. As a result of this and because of the accounting estimates and the risk of fraud, we evaluate that the assurance in the audit report should not even be increased or decreased but instead should be maintained. Even though digital tools make it possible to test all transactions which can pose an opportunity of increasing the assurance in the audit report, we assess due to the risk of defective material, disciplinary responsibility and auditor’s liability that the assurance in the audit report should be maintained. Because of the movement towards digital tools in the audit process, the future auditor also needs to achieve the necessary competencies such as an understanding of how the tools are working, how they could be incorporated in the respective phases of the audit process, etc. the auditor should gather this know-how during their study and by working with the specialists.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages226