Internal Auditors’ conference opens with digitisation top on agenda - GulfToday

Internal Auditors’ conference opens with digitisation top on agenda

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Top officials during the Regional Internal Auditors’ conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. WAM

Business Bureau, Gulf Today

The role of Internal Audit (IA) has been changing due to business complexity and the introduction of new technologies. Digitisation and technological advancements are posing significant challenges to IA functions at organisations, His Excellency Hamad Al Hurr Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority, said.

In his message to 19th Annual Regional Audit Conference which opened at the Jumeirah Etihad Towers on Wednesday, he said the IA enables governance, risk management and compliance for the entire organisation. Stating that the Conference will benefit the businesses and enable the UAE become a leader in Internal Auditing, he said IA should add value to the organizations by being on the cutting-edge of the business.

Hosted by the UAE Internal Auditors Association (UAE-IAA), the conference is the largest gathering of Internal Auditors in the region with the participation of more than 550 IA experts and specialists. Abdulaziz Abdulla Al Khoori, Executive Director for Performance & Risk Assurance at Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority, represented the His Excellency Hamad Al Hurr Al Suwaidi. Over two days, participants from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt are deliberating about the challenges and opportunities emerging from Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Privacy, Digitisation, Cyber Security and Robotics. The conference is titled ‘Digital Foundation, Endless Possibilities’.

In his welcome speech, Abdulqader Obaid Ali, Chairman, UAE IAA, which represents 45 per cent of the total internal auditors in the region, said the digitalization poses immense challenges and opportunities for every business and Internal Auditors needs to equip themselves with cutting-edge knowledge and skills, along with having high professional standards, to successfully benefit from the ecosystem. He praised the UAE government for taking the right steps for enriching the governance and excellence through the digitalization of services and smart applications.

Naohiro Mouri, Chairman of IIA Global, was the keynote speaker and spoke on “Emphasize the Basics, Elevate the Standards” with Karem Obaid, IIA Global Board Member and Chief Audit Executive in Abu Dhabi, as the moderator. In the Q&A format address, he spoke about the challenges to the Internal Auditing by the new technologies. Earlier, a short film was screened with Mouri explaining the IA framework and blueprint for the future.

 “It is important how you use and not what you use,” he said, referring to the spate of technologies like AI and Digitisation impacting the IA, and suggested equipping ourselves to face the challenges boldly for huge successes. Referring the changes coming down the road, he said one needs to look at ourselves from time to time to refresh and energise the professionalism and standards in order to come up to or exceed the expectations. Emphasis should be placed on the basics in order to elevate the standards, he said, asking the internal auditors to ponder why and what has not changed.

He underscored the importance of standards which will benefit the Internal Audit profession and all the stakeholders in the ecosystem should get themselves abreast with how the technologies work as a learning path. In response to a question, he favoured the idea of having a standards charter for the internal auditors, taking into account the rapid pace of changes taking places to the business landscape.

He emphasised on creating larger awareness about Internal Auditing and helping the governments towards the goal of raising the levels of professional standards, morals and ethics. He said auditing professionals should thoroughly debate the challenges faced by organisations arising out of frauds, embezzlements and misappropriation.

Cyber threat is greatest risk facing the internal audit community as there are almost 2 billion attacks are reported per day, according to a panel discussion titled ‘Technology Vs IA: The way forward’.

Elizabeta Gjorgievska Joshervski, Global Sales Specialist, Middle East and Africa, CISCO, said internal auditors should be ready for a future digital transformation and a secure digital infrastructure.

The session was moderated by Dr Khalid D Al-Faddagh, Board Audit Committee Member at STC, SABIC and, Board Member of Vision Invest. The other panel members comprised Suhail Qureshi, CFO, Honeywell High Growth Regions, and Bashar Kilani, Region Executive, Middle East, IBM.

 Bashar said majority of jobs performed by people now will change in the next ten years with digital transformation using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and this itself is a big opportunity. “Ten years from now it’s going to be the era of data scientists, who will have a bigger role in digitalisation. Every professional, whether it’s a doctor or lawyer, will have to become a data scientist,” he said.