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In this article, I provide background regarding a hot topic in the public accounting profession: the rise of big data and the related field of data analytics (DA). The tax and advisory practices of public accounting firms have embraced the use of DA, and firms have made significant investments in growing these practice areas. Although DA holds great promise for the auditing practice as well, the use of widespread DA on audit engagements has lagged behind other practice areas. This is due to the fact that auditing presents unique challenges in the adoption of DA that are not relevant for other practice areas. Despite the impression that DA is not being embraced as readily in auditing, public accounting firms are continuing to make significant investments in developing audit-related DA, and it is only a matter of time before we start to see the transformational impact of these efforts. The purpose of this article is (1) to explain how DA applies to financial statement audits and why it could represent a game changer in how audits are conducted, and (2) to provide a context for researchers in terms of problems to be addressed related to DA.
7. What does DA mean for auditors of the future?
This article presented some ofthe challengesimpacting the widespread adoption of DA in auditing. Again,there issignificant promise forimproving audit quality through the use of DA, but significant hurdles will need to be overcome. Academic research can inform the myriad questions facing firms as they develop these approaches, but time is of the essence since the pressure to apply DA to auditing is growing. Companies are making investments in big data to improve their own decision making, and they expect auditors to be able to leverage big data to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of audits as well.