New IT Audit Survey From Protiviti and ISACA Ranks Privacy, Data, Resources as Top Challenges

This week, Protiviti released its 2019 Global IT Audit Benchmarking Study, the eighth annual audit research project conducted in partnership with ISACA. More than 2,200 chief audit executives (CAEs), internal audit professionals and IT audit vice presidents and directors across the globe participated in the study. These professionals revealed the key technology challenges they face, including a dramatic increase in the importance of data and governance, the essential role of IT partnerships and the top skills they are seeking in their teams.

Top Technology Challenges

Asked to identify their biggest technology challenges, IT audit leaders and professionals noted the following as their top five:

  1. IT security and privacy/cybersecurity
  2. Data management and governance
  3. Emerging technology and infrastructure changes – transformation/innovation/disruption
  4. Staffing and skills challenges
  5. Third-party/vendor management

Today’s Toughest Challenges in IT Audit
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Data Management and Governance the Second Most Important Challenge

Respondents indicated that data management and governance pose the second most critical challenge to their organizations, a significant jump from its number ten spot in the 2018 survey. As organizations seek to leverage data with technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and continuous auditing and monitoring, IT audit functions are becoming increasingly focused on evaluating risks associated with data collection, processing and reporting.

Key findings at a glance
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The Growing Importance of IT Partnerships

IT audit functions defined as ‘leaders’ in the report have significantly increased exposure to strategic activities within the organization, including being invited to participate in key IT department committees (e.g., IT governance and risk management, information security, IT strategy). Leaders also assess and identify technology risk on a more frequent, even continual, basis. Finally, leaders include cybersecurity in their plans on a more frequent basis than those who have lower levels of engagement and interaction with the IT department.

Lack of Skills and Resources Is a Pervasive Challenge

IT audit functions across industries are experiencing a shortage of skilled resources. The survey revealed the top five skills most in demand are:

  • Expertise in advanced and enabling technologies (44%)
  • Critical thinking (32%)
  • Data science (27%)
  • Agile methodology (20%)
  • Communications expertise (17%)

As businesses continue their digital transformation journeys, the importance of focusing on data and technology by internal audit grows. The way internal auditors engage and partner with their stakeholders, and the skills, tools and technologies they need to develop to support their organizations through a transformation are going to be critical areas of focus. 

The in-depth survey report, including a detailed breakdown of benchmarking data by organi­zation size, region and more, is available for complimentary download from Protiviti here and from ISACA here.

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