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CEO Message: Finding Opportunity in Adversity

Digital Anthony Pugliese, CIA, CGMA, CITP, CPA Feb 10, 2022

For every disruption, we've discovered a new opportunity.

As the last two years demonstrate, we can't predict what comes next, but our pandemic-honed agility will serve us well. As you read this issue, consider how we can apply the lessons we've learned over the last two years to tackle the challenges ahead and seize the opportunities that await. 

I remember the early days of 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago, first hearing the name that would turn our world upside down: COVID-19. None of us could have imagined that we'd still be battling the pandemic two years later, let alone predict the ways it would change nearly every aspect of business and our daily lives. From supply chain disruptions to homeschooling, remote working to normalizing mental health discussions, our world has changed and there's no going back. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

To be sure, the pandemic disrupted life on a scale of historic proportions. But for every disruption, we've discovered a new opportunity. You'd be hard-pressed to find parents who enjoyed home schooling their children while balancing their own jobs, but remote learning and working are now more widely accepted, and that flexibility is undoubtedly a good thing. Yes, business was slowly trending more virtual/remote before the pandemic, but necessity accelerated these and other trends.

COVID-19 forced industries to operate differently. Businesses have adopted new processes and technologies to improve efficiency and manage the challenges of new safety protocols and a dispersed workforce. The pandemic also pushed internal audit functions to accelerate adoption of technologies they may have been considering for years. Drones, for example, are being used for inventory observations, enabling auditors to be more efficient and making their job safer by completing dangerous tasks. Other types of robots and artificial intelligence systems are handling data-heavy computations that free up auditors to focus on higher value areas that only a human can address. This technology gives auditors new ways to provide assurance that critical functions are being maintained and helps address tasks made more difficult by the pandemic. Now we must ask how we can leverage these lessons to get in front of other technology developments.

And as technology evolves, there's an accompanying need to create standardized processes to ensure quality, consistency, and privacy with each new advancement. Our profession is at the heart of this transformation — the independent internal audit function is uniquely positioned to provide objective assurance that organizations are adopting new technologies efficiently and responsibly.

As the last two years demonstrate, we can't predict what comes next, but our pandemic-honed agility will serve us well. As you read this issue, consider how we can apply the lessons we've learned over the last two years to tackle the challenges ahead and seize the opportunities that await. In fact, we're seizing opportunities right here with a new digital design of our magazine. This redesign reflects the world's more digital approach to business and will bring our content to life in new ways. We're excited to share this new experience and the great content to come this year.

Anthony Pugliese, CIA, CGMA, CITP, CPA

Anthony Pugliese is president and CEO of The IIA in Lake Mary, FL.