The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the past year has been breathtaking. Adoption of generative AI tools alone has exceeded the pace of any technology in human history. As is often observed, AI presents both risks and opportunities for the world – including for our profession: internal auditing.
In June, I published a simulated interview with ChatGPT to illustrate just how powerful and insightful such tools can be. In response to a question I posed about whether AI could replace internal audit, ChatGPT observed:
“AI has the potential to automate certain tasks performed by internal auditors, but it is unlikely to completely replace them. Internal audit involves not only data analysis but also critical thinking, judgement, and understanding of organizational dynamics. While AI can assist in processing large volumes of data and identifying patterns, human auditors bring contextual knowledge, professional skepticism, and the ability to make informed judgements that consider ethical, regulatory, and strategic aspects. The role of internal auditors may evolve with AI adoption, focusing more on higher-value activities like risk assessment, advisory services, and enhancing governance processes.”
In another blog post on the looming AI compliance risks, I noted that, “if internal auditors engage primarily in hindsight and focus our energies on tactical audit engagements, such as assurance on internal controls over financial reporting, we run a significant risk of being disintermediated by AI. However, if we turn our attention on strategic/business risks and other engagements that require professional (human) judgement, we have the opportunity as an enabler to leverage AI, rather than to fear it.”
AI is being used increasingly to design – or redesign – a wide array of objects, systems and processes, including:
But what if we asked AI to design the ultimate member of our profession? What skills, attributes and characteristics would it include in creating an outstanding internal auditor? I put the question to various generative AI tools, and they coalesced around “an exceptional blend” of skills. The top 10 skills (in no particular order) along with the AI tools’ description:
As I reviewed the skills and characteristics generated by the various AI tools, I couldn’t help but observe the similarities with the traits I found in research that served as the basis for my 2017 book Trusted Advisors: Key Attributes of Outstanding Internal Auditors.
While the emphasis on technology skills and agility has certainly increased over the past six years, the differentiators between those internal auditors who earn and retain a seat at the table and those who are simply good at their job is seemingly evergreen.
I welcome your thoughts on this topic, and what it tells us about the skills that outstanding internal auditors have in common. Share your comments on LinkedIn or X (formerly known as Twitter) or drop an email to me at email@example.com.