KPMG plans IBM Watson integration to boost audit analysis


news Big four auditing firm KPMG has announced plans to integrate IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology to a range of its professional services in the Australian market.

With the move, KPMG said intends to introduce the cognitive technology to audit and assurance services and other offerings, in a move aimed to enhance the firm’s “focus on quality and insights”.

KPMG Australia and IBM Australia have now committed to the integration via a participation agreement that extends existing agreements in the USA and UK. Other member firms “likely to follow”, KPMG said in a statement.

IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to provide insights from huge amounts of unstructured data.

By using natural language processing to understand grammar and context, it can analyse real-world data, understand complex questions and provide answers and solutions to those questions.

KPMG said that auditing is particularly suited to cognitive technology because of the increasing challenge to tackle immense volumes of both structured and unstructured data related to a company’s financial and non-financial information.

IBM Watson’s data analysis capabilities could transform how critical decisions are made and the level of assurance that can be provided, the firm said.

“Already, data and analytics techniques are transforming audit by allowing analysis of much bigger populations of data than traditional sampling from which to draw conclusions,” said Duncan McLennan, KPMG’s National Managing Partner of Audit in Australia.

“Cognitive technology will allow us to build on these data and analytics advances. They will be a game changer in how the value of audit is perceived by the marketplace,” he said.

KPMG expects IBM Watson technology to accelerate its teams’ ability to analyse and act on core financial and operational data.

The technology could also enable enhanced collaboration between humans and systems, KPMG said – allowing staff to communicate in natural language and analyse massive amounts of data to deliver insights more quickly.

“We believe we are nearing a tipping point where the use of automation tools, machine learning and data analytics will provide significant enhancements to the range of services and the depth of insights we can provide to clients,” said Ken Reid, KPMG Australia’s National Managing Partner for Innovation.

“We’ve been bolstering our capabilities in a range of emerging technologies through acquisitions,” Reid said. “We’ve also recently launched a new practice, Solution 49x, to help clients harness the power of cognitive and artificial intelligence.”

Image credit: IBM