Big Data and external audit. An explorative study in the Italian context
Recent technological developments referred to Big Data (BD) and Data Analytics (DA) may offer significant opportunities in the statutory auditing context. Despite numerous studies dealing with the opportunities and obstacles related to the adoption of such technological advancement in conducting audit engagements, the way in which BD and DA can contribute to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the statutory audit activities is still under investigated.
This paper aims to provide an explorative analysis regarding whether, and if so, how extensive is the use of BD and DA technologies within the Italian auditing context. BY performing semi-structured interviews with the partner and senior managers of eight different audit firms (both Big 4 and not Big 4), the proposed analysis allowed to underline that in the Italian context audit firms have shown a lower degree of advancement compared to that of other countries (mostly US and UK). The peculiar characteristics of the Italian economic environment, specifically related to Italian audited companies, as well as the need for high-specialized skills in applying the mentioned technologies constitute the main obstacles to a full endorsement of BD and DA technology within the daily practices of Italian auditors.
Keywords: revisione contabile, Big Data, Data Analytics, audit innovation.
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