Fifty years ago, a company on the S&P 500 would last over 50 years, today, they will be lucky to last 15 years. Companies are scaling faster and failing faster than ever before. In a recent Deloitte study, Age of Disruption, in a survey of 700 business leaders across a variety of industries, geographies and sizes, Deloitte found that only 13% of organizations are highly prepared for the disruption that is being created by exponential advances in the areas of advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, networks, advanced manufacturing and collaborative connected platforms and a third of businesses are not prepared at all. Further, given the productivity challenge in Canada, Canadian companies are particularly vulnerable to disruption. For those that are highly prepared, the rapid advances in technology present opportunities to increase efficiency and global competitiveness but for those organizations that are not highly prepared, there is much work to do to take advantage of this climate of change.
Deloitte has most recently found that corporate Canada lacks courage – not making investments and not exploring new ideas. Exploring opportunities and being willing to take risks is a key part of having business courage and being innovative. However, this should be done within a framework that is understood and supported by senior management, has the right governance in place and is communicated to the organization. While internal audit may not be in the position of identifying new opportunities for the organization, it does play a key role in ensuring that the appropriate governance is in place to assess and take advantage of these opportunities.
Internal audit is also in a position to innovate themselves and to assess their ability to take advantage of these opportunities to improve their efficiency, increase the value they bring and their on-going relevance to the organization. With the right perspective and frameworks, the disruptive change that is currently facing most organizations is not something to be feared but something to be understood and taken advantage of to improve the business and create new markets, new products and new ways of delivering services.