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Episode 31

2020 wrapup - learnings, listener feedback, what's coming

In this episode we wrap up, talking about:

  • a few things we've learned this year
  • feedback - what people found valuable
  • feedback - what people want to hear more about
  • some of the tech/software used to produce this podcast

Transcript

 

Narrator: 

Welcome to the assurance show. This podcast is for internal auditors and performance auditors. We discuss risk and data focused ideas that are relevant to assurance professionals. Your hosts are Conor McGarrity and Yusuf Moolla.

Yusuf: 

This is the last episode for 2020. In this episode, we just wanted to wrap up the year, talk about what we've learned, talk about what people want to hear more about. So feedback from listeners. And then just wrap up with an acknowledgement of some of the tech that we use to produce this podcast. It's been a fascinating year, I think, lots of learning for us anyway.

Conor: 

It's really reinforced the importance in ongoing learning and development. And there's real appetite out there among those in the audit and assurance profession to continually learn and improve how they do their work. And that's been, fantastic to see and hear. So some of the things we'll cover today, we'll talk about some of the feedback we've heard from our listeners, things they liked most about the episodes over the past year and some things they really would like to hear more about in the coming 2021 year. Three areas stood out in particular. And the first one was the use of data and experimentation in the use of data. And some of our listeners thought the importance of them being empowered and their leaders empowering them to use data, and experiment with it was something that was front of mind for them, understanding that they won't always get it right. They need that latitude to try new things.

Yusuf: 

Yeah, that's right. And in fact, we had an episode recorded last week. And that's probably only going to come out in January, 2021 with, the data science leader at a US-based audit office. And he was talking about how they are continuously experimenting. So that was quite good to see, but quite a few other people have talked about, either they have been experimenting already or they would like to experiment. And they're now starting to see the benefit in that. When we think about how we can benefit from using data, as part of our audits, it is about effectiveness and about quality. Efficiency is a distant third, as it relates to getting efficiencies in your audit, unless you are a compliance focused audit team, which most of our listeners won't be because most of our listeners are going to be far more forward thinking than that. And so they would see efficiency from things like, better reporting, better granular level of information in findings. Being able to provide context to the audiences that they serve as opposed to actual efficiency in their audits. And so what that then means is that if you're not trying to chase an efficiency target, and you can create the room for experimentation and understand that using data in a more advanced way really is going to mean some level of investment that you would then have a payout from then that would involve experimentation.

Conor: 

The second theme that came out from some of the audience feedback, was the discussions we've been having around audience and the importance of really focusing on your audience, at an early stage, so that when you are using data in your audit, that you're setting out early to make sure that you think about what the audience needs to see from your data analysis so that you're not scrambling at the last minute, once you've done all your field work and you've done your analysis, trying to figure out, how do I actually visualize this? Or how do I show all the good work that I've done to the people that need to see it.

Yusuf: 

And then if we think about it more broadly than an individual audit, that shift away from let's produce something just because it's interesting. Let's produce a dashboard because it looks cool. Let's put this data out because we have it and we can. And the shift is towards what do people actually need to see? What do they want to see? What will be interesting to them? How can we best serve them? So think about that audience and then serve them. And, it'll change depending on who exactly the audience is. Sometimes in the performance audit world, it's just parliament or just the agency. Sometimes you want to do something for the broader public. We had a discussion just last week that will come out in 2021 where the importance of that was emphasized again.

Conor: 

And staying true to your audit objective. Don't just produce something flashy that's very far removed from the original objective of your audit. Third thing that came out strongly in some of the feedback and we only just started to scratch the surface on this. And that's the use of AI and machine learning, both within audits, to conduct your audits, but also getting some assurance or auditing machine learning where it's been applied. The acknowledgement that they need to spend more time considering how AI and machine learning in particular impacts their work for future audits. That's certainly something we'll pick up and run with in 2021.

Yusuf: 

We've only really had two episodes on that. Episode 17 was around what auditors need to know about using and auditing AI, where you and I had a discussion about a few areas to consider. And then we had a discussion with Andrew Clark, the CTO of Monitaur, a machine learning assurance specialist provider. Those two episodes are really the introductory material, like you said, and we're hoping to have a, a few more conversations. This is really an emerging field and so there aren't that many thought leaders out there that we can tap into, but we'll hunt them down and find them and tap their brains to provide value to auditors.

Conor: 

So that takes us into some of the things we're talking more about next year. So the first one, obviously a direct flow on there are the advances in AI, and in particular, the currency of new technologies.

Yusuf: 

Most of what we're talking about is focused on auditors. We focus the conversations on what it is that auditors can benefit from. We may need to go a little bit broader, but there's so much of waffle that goes on in the AI and machine learning field that we're going to make sure that we cut through that.

Conor: 

We did try and speak around that waffle, or cut through that waffle, in one of our episodes where we talked about the terminologies around data that are misused.

Yusuf: 

Yep. So that was episode number 20, data related terminology that's commonly misused.

Conor: 

The second thing we'll have a continued focus on is the guest interviews that we've really only started in the past few months. And I just actually don't know off the top of my head, how many we've done now are published at this stage.

Yusuf: 

So we've published four. Sorry, I'm lying. we published five. The very first one with Josam Watson, the CRO of Tyme Global. The second one was Carlos Phoenix, who's a cyber professional, that's episode 26. The third one was episode 28, David Haylor who is a specialist internal audit recruiter. We did episode 29, which was Andrew Clark, we just mentioned there, the CTO of Monitaur on machine learning assurance. Episode 30 was John Moore, the CTO of the Queensland Audit Office. We've got a few more in the pipeline, it will be every fortnight with our voices in between.

Conor: 

The feedback suggests that there's been real value in hearing those different perspectives from those guest interviews. And like you said, upfront Yusuf we ourselves have got a lot of value and learnt a lot from speaking with those professionals.

Yusuf: 

Yeah, that's right. We've got a few more coming up. There'll be interviews with performance auditors, interviews with internal auditors. We're looking to get a few audit committee people, so members or chairs of audit committees. We've got a nice conversation coming up around data visualization, and there'll be a little bit more about that as well. It's proven to be over the last four years, quite an important field, particularly when we're thinking about addressing the needs of our audiences. And so we're going to get a few trusted data visualization people onto the show, starting with Alli Torban, who's a data visualization designer out of Washington, DC. And then a range of performance audit folk. So that's both data scientists in performance audit, and there's a few of them around now, but also performance auditors that are on the ground. Because obviously most of what we talk about is focused on data has some sort of data focus. The benefits of talking to performance auditors is that we get an understanding of what it is that they looking to do themselves directly as it relates to data. A key focus of ours over the last year or two has been getting more people involved in using data directly themselves.

Conor: 

Absolutely. And that takes us to the third theme or main focus area for next year, and that will be sharing lessons. So understanding what's happening in other countries and other jurisdictions, hearing about some of the progressive moves that have been made within audit teams

Yusuf: 

Yeah. So we've had people based in Hong Kong, LA, Virginia, the UK and Queensland. We want to expand that to have a broader footprint globally. And so we've got a few coming up from outside of those areas. If you have any suggestions on people that we should bring onto the show as guests that you would like to hear about, or you think have a good story to tell, then feel free to contact us, just easily available contact information on our website to get hold of us, or just call us or email us, whatever.

Conor: 

We're interested in people who have different viewpoints or very strong passions about a particular thing that relates to audit or assurance more broadly. So please feel free to get in touch. The last thing, we probably can't sign off the year without doing is acknowledging some of the tech we use in this podcast and some of the fantastic services that are available out there that we've been able to utilize.

Yusuf: 

Yeah. So we started With no idea in January when we started the podcast about how this was going to work and what we were going to do. And, it's been quite an interesting journey across several different types of software platforms and products to produce this podcast. But broadly in terms of acknowledgements, the hardware technology that we use is largely Rode. On the software side, a combination of open source and proprietary software. The biggest piece of open source software that we use is something called Audacity, which is, if you're a Mac user would be similar to GarageBand on a Mac, but Audacity is an open source what they call a DAW, which is, I don't actually know what that means. It's some sort of audio processing software anyway. But that enables us to do all sorts of nice nifty things with, the audio that we produce. and it's such an amazing piece of software that it's really one of those that has strengthened our inherent bias towards open source software. We've always been talking about open source software and we've spoken about this on the podcast as, open source is something that everybody should look to and a combination of open source and proprietary is really where you want to go because not everything open source will work and sometimes you do any proprietary software and pay for really smart things as well. But Audacity is one of those. The other piece of open-source software that we use is something called GIMP that we use to create our podcast artwork, and there was another software product, and I just can't remember what the name is, but we'll talk about that next year. And then we use Buzzsprout for our podcast hosting, really good value. They have lots of informative articles as well, so have to acknowledge them. We use something called Auphonic to level our audio, it's a paid piece of software, but there are some free options available as well. Really good stuff, that's all they do. And then on the proprietary side, one of the biggest pieces of software that we've started using for this, and the thing that has created significant value for us in terms of time saving and just being able to do all sorts of things that we didn't think were possible is a technology platform called Descript. And Descript is what we use to edit our podcasts. The interesting thing about it is that it's only a couple of years old and they've already created a software platform and I think the CEO of Descript used to be the CEO of Groupon. If you remember Groupon. I think when he left Groupon, he created Descript, and they've come in leaps and bounds since then. You import your audio, it automatically transcribes it, and you can edit your audio by editing the words that you see as opposed to having to go and edit these wave forms That's where we started. you've got to listen, and then work out what is the wave form look like in terms of the audio and where do I cut it? Where do I change things? This is all done in text, which is ridiculously fascinating and ridiculously powerful. And that's what we've been using for a while, so got to knowledge that. We hope that the audio that we produce is of high quality. We try our best to, make it listenable, even though people have to listen to your and my voice, but that's okay. We just try to use some hardware and software to make our voices a bit more palatable to the audience. But that's a wrap-up of technology for the year. What's interesting about that open source thing is that, again, we use KNIME as our open source platform. We've said this many times we are KNIME partners. So just, a disclaimer again, but that KNIME open-source software and a few other pieces of software that we use are so well-crafted, so well-designed and have a level of functionality that we would have never expected to see in open source software, and I know we spoke about open source at length before, but this is just something that, again, blows my mind every time I see it.

Conor: 

That wraps us up for the year. Keep in touch and let us know what you want to hear from us next year.

Yusuf: 

And we'll be back in January. Thanks for listening to us and bearing with us over the last year as we mumble our way through, what is quite an important set of topics. And thank you Conor for a great year in recording this podcast.

Conor: 

Likewise I'll work on my accent over the holidays.

Yusuf: 

Ok, look forward to it.

Conor: 

Thanks Yusuf.

Yusuf: 

Thank you, see ya.

Narrator: 

If you enjoyed this podcast, please share with a friend and rate us in your podcast app. For immediate notification of new episodes, you can subscribe at assuranceshow.com. The link is in the show notes.

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