Press releases

EY scaling the use of drones in the audit process

LONDON, 13 JUNE 2017

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  • EY to use pioneering industry software to improve inventory counts
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be built into the drones to extend capability
  • Information to feed directly into EY Canvas, the EY Assurance global audit digital platform

LONDON, 13 June 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 analyze 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.

Hermann Sidhu, EY Global Assurance Digital Leader, says:

“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. 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.

Felice Persico, EY Global Vice Chair – Assurance, says:

“We are investing heavily in the development of new technologies that can enhance the quality of our audit process. Our primary function is to build trust and confidence in the capital markets, and digitalizing these types of tasks in our audits means that we can improve not only audit quality, but also provide deeper business insights that further benefit our stakeholders.”