Mind+machine

Automation to Enhance Professional Services

Earlier this month, KPMG signed with IBM’s Watson Supercomputer to take care of rule based tasks in auditing. KPMG consultants will use Watson to analyze massive volumes of data to detect anomalies, for example in commercial loans or financial statements of a company. On the same day (March 8), Deloitte signed up with Kira Systems to help free its workers from the mundane task of reviewing contracts and other documents. Watson’s key offering is the processing of unstructured data, which has been widely used in healthcare – going through vast pools of data to help patients and providers make better decisions. Kira has similar offerings, but is more of a start-up and has professional services firms as target customers.

Deloitte and Ernst & Young are also using in-house analytics engines to automate similar tasks:

  • Deloitte auditors are using Argus, their own artificial-intelligence tool that extracts information from documents, and Optix, a data-analytics engine that sorts a client’s data and points auditors toward potential problems.
  • Ernst & Young said advanced technology allowed it to analyze all of a European manufacturer’s credits and debits, and to discern a number of expenses back-posted to an earlier quarter. The firm found the transactions were from one business unit, and were correcting previous errors: expenses that should have been recorded earlier. The issue reflected poor internal controls at the unit, Ernst & Young said, and the client improved its procedures and governance as a result.

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All this proves the need to keep pushing the envelope on mind+machine.

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