Internal auditors won’t be left behind by the 4IR

Marelize Santana -- Tue, 10/08/2019 - 15:30

Internal auditors won’t be left behind by the 4IR

The world is already knee deep into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and South African academics and researchers need to come up with innovative technological solutions to ensure students’ skills keep up.

Dr Cameron Modisane, who recently obtained his PhD from the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Faculty of Economic Management Sciences, has conducted research that will better equip internal auditing students for the 4IR.

His research study is titled “Establishing a competency framework for the integration of workplace information technology knowledge and skills within an internal audit education programme and training”.  It focuses on the impact that information technologies have on the auditing profession and how university students can prepare d for the coming changes.

The study started in March 2015 and was completed earlier this year. Dr Modisane administered a questionnaire to 53 internal audit practitioners and academic staff at 11 South African universities and universities of technology.

Meeting industry’s expectations

The study found that potential employers and internal auditing graduates agree that information technology knowledge and skills competencies should be included in the university curriculum. At the same time, there are gaps between the expectations of potential employers and the skills of internal auditing graduates.  

Dr Modisane says these gaps include auditing and management skills, programme development and change to prevent unauthorised changes to systems and applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and internet and e-business.  These skills were not adequately emphasised at South African universities, which means the current university curriculum should be updated in step with the needs of business and industry.

First-class solutions

Having identified the problem, he is now developing solutions. These revolve around his integrated workplace competency framework, which describes the information technology (IT) competencies internal auditors need and that will have an impact on the audit risks they investigate.

Topics should include cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence, block chain and machine learning, which are all relevant to the 4IR and should have a place in the accounting and auditing curriculum at South African universities.

This research is unlikely to be the end of Dr Modisane’s quest to bring the internal auditing profession up to speed with the 4IR. As he says, after all: “I have a passion for internal auditing and how it integrates with IT.”

Dr Cameron Modisane during his recent PhD graduation ceremony. With him is Bram Schouwstra.