A conversation with Thierry Dessange, vice president of technology audit at Visa Inc. 

Whether it's data analytics; governance, risk, and compliance solutions; or planning and collaboration software packages, most internal audit departments are looking to improve their use of technology as they strive to do more with less. Meeting the organizational mandate to provide more value means achieving greater efficiency, and technology offers the best chance at doing that.

Still, many internal auditors say they have muchwork to do to get where they want to be on the spectrum of those who use technology to its full potential. A recent study by the Institute of Internal Auditors found that just 40 percent of internal audit leaders say their departments embrace technology at what they consider to be appropriate levels. More than half said they were lagging on the use of technology. A separate Deloitte study found that only 7 percent of respondents say their internal audit department is using data analytics at an advanced level.

At the SuperStrategies 2016 conference in Las Vegas last week, we caught up with Thierry Dessange, vice president of technology audit at Visa Inc., to talk about how internal audit departments are leveraging technology to increase efficiency and how technology is changing internal audit.

"Technology is very rarely the answer to your problem, even if the problem is well defined," he says. "Technology is an enabler for you to solve those problems. So I think internal audit departments still grapple with how to do their work as efficiently and effectively as possible, and part of that equation is the effective use of technology."

Dessange, who delivered a keynote address at the conference on IT concerns every internal auditor must address, says internal audit departments need to careful and thoughtful about how they implement technology solutions. "Technology or the misuse of technology can actually create more problems for your internal audit department than if you didn't have it in the first place. As with any problem statement, you have to step back and look at what the requirements are."

Digging Through Data

The IT auditor also says that data analytics can be a real boon to internal audit shops, but he cautions that it isn't a silver bullet to cure all that ails the department. "It's extremely important to consider data analytics. You can't ignore it. You need to leverage the power to do it, whether it's to reduce sampling and focus on 100 percent testing. And that can even help you on the risk-assessment side on where to focus your testing efforts," he says. "As you move up that evolution scale, then you really need to start thinking about the human equation in data analytics. Do your people understand what data are, and what you can do with data?"

Finally, Dessange talked about how technology is changing the internal audit profession. He says all auditors will likely have to improve their technology abilities. "I am a huge proponent of every internal auditor having a baseline understanding and skill set surrounding the use of technology and data analytics." For more, click play to watch the interview.