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Drones are coming to an audit near you

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By PQ Magazine

Wave goodbye to your calculator, the accountant’s new best friend could be their pet drone!

PwC has a drone HQ in Poland and now EY has announced plans to scale-up the use of drones in its audit process. So the days of PQs climbing up ladders for the annual stocktake could be well and truly over.

Last year, PwC created a global centre of excellence in Poland, called Drone Powered Solutions. It wants to harness the opportunities drones can offer its clients.

PwC’s Michal Mazur said: “Drones are making the transition from novelty item to indispensable business tool.” He estimated that the drone-powered solutions market had an estimated value of $127bn.

Meanwhile, EY has just announced a Global Proof of Concept (POC) to expand the use of drones in ‘inventory observations’, as part of its digital audit programme.

The Big 4 firm said that in order to enhance audit quality this extensive pilot project will use pioneering industry technology to improve the accuracy and frequency of its inventory count data collection.

The cloud-based asset tracking platform, powered by an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor network, will analyse inventory qualities in real-time by reading Quick Response (QR), barcode and rack labels, feeding this information directly into EY’s audit digital platform, which connects to its 80,000 auditors.

The POC will initially be used in both the manufacturing and retail sectors. Audits for automotive manufacturers, for example, will use the drones to conduct an automated count of vehicles at manufacturing plants. In retail sector audits to count warehouse stock the drones will work autonomously while using variable image and object recognition tools such as optical character recognition and barcodes to collect inventory information, especially during off-hours, to minimise audit stakeholder risk and improve efficiency.

EY’s digital leader, Hermann Sidhu, said: “We have been testing the use of drones in the audit process for several months and the findings have been compelling.

“It’s now time to scale our testing globally across multiple sectors, as we know that many audits can benefit from the use of this innovative technology.”

He also felt that the use of drones will allow audit teams to focus on identifying areas of risk, rather than manually capturing stock counts.