TECHNOLOGY: EY scaling the use of drones in the audit process

01 September, 2017

EY has launched a global proof of concept (POC) to expand the use of drones in inventory observations, as part of its digital audit capabilities. In order to enhance audit quality, this extensive pilot project will use pioneering industry technology to improve the accuracy and frequency of inventory count data collection.

The cloud-based asset tracking platform, powered by an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor network, will analyse inventory quantities in real-time by reading Quick Response (QR)/barcode/rack labels and feeding this information directly into EY Canvas — the EY Assurance global audit digital platform that seamlessly connects more than 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, for a warehouse stock count, the drones will work autonomously while using variable image and object recognition tools such as optical character recognition and QR/barcode/rack labels to collect inventory information, especially during off-hours to minimize audit stakeholder risk and improve efficiency.

“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,” said Hermann Sidhu, EY Global Assurance Digital Leader.

“It’s just one of many ways that we are working to embed the very latest technologies into our audit processes to further improve audit quality.”

The use of drones in the inventory count allows for more data to be captured, and for audit teams to focus on identifying areas of risk, rather than manually capturing stock counts. Innovating the stock count process using ground breaking drone technology, AI and machine learning, will create a capability that can further benefit EY audit stakeholders.