The speed of change is hard to fathom. Real-time data analytics help audit teams keep up.
Every day, we make thousands of decisions, all contributing to an ever-growing stream of data. Businesses tap into that data to shape their products and services and to foresee their customers’ demands. But in the past, businesses could only examine their history or speculate about their future.
Real-time data analytics allow organizations to do more and to do it immediately. They are changing the current business environment by interacting with and affecting the market in real-time.
To understand the possibilities that real-time data analytics can offer your organization, this blog will explain:
- What real-time data analytics is
- Why real-time data is used in analytics
- The relationship between real-time analytics and audit
- Real-time data analytics examples
What is real-time data analytics?
Real-time data analytics is the process that enables you to immediately examine data — that is, as soon as it enters your system. This allows you to see and use information as it is gathered without having to pause production.
Because data streams come from a wide variety of high-velocity sources, such as the Internet of Things, mobile devices, sensors and click-stream interaction, that data can deeply impact your business decisions. Without it, the audit function may be constantly behind the curve. With it, audit departments can serve a more strategic function because they’ll be able to assess the business as changes arise — putting them in a better position to keep up with the quickly evolving business landscape.
Why use real-time data in analytics?
Real-time data allows for nearly instantaneous information. While other data types become available outside the flow of normal production, real-time data is available as circumstances change.
This gives audit teams the opportunity to be more strategic. Rather than relying on historical data that may no longer be relevant or predictive analytics that don’t pan out, audit teams can report to the board about what may impact the business right now.
Data in real-time allows audit to be more proactive — and, ultimately, keep the business more competitive — in a number of ways, including:
- Making operational decisions and applying them to ongoing processes or transactions immediately
- Applying pre-existing predictive or prescriptive models and monitoring their effectiveness
- Reporting and comparing historical and real-time data
- Receiving alerts from monitored systems or at certain pre-set parameters
Examples of real-time data analytics
Many different use cases exist for real-time data across industries and even departments. Some examples are:
- Account monitoring: Many different companies monitor their accounts in real-time. Consider credit card companies. They continuously collect data on their customers’ accounts and analyze that data to determine whether a transaction is fraudulent. If the transaction is larger than the customer would usually make or is an atypical product for that customer, the credit card company might flag it as fraud and freeze the account.
- System security: Real-time data analytics can be key to cybersecurity. In this scenario, businesses monitor how users access and process data within the system. If they pick up on an activity that deviates from the average user, they can remove that user’s access and keep hackers from compromising data.
- Predictive maintenance: Machinery that breaks down may have some warning signs in common. Businesses with fleets of planes, trucks, cranes, or other machinery can use real-time data analytics to determine if something is likely to break down, then intervene before the repair becomes even more costly.
Advantages of real-time data analytics
So, how can data analytics in real time help your audit team?
The primary advantage of real-time data analytics is that it facilitates time-sensitive and important business decisions. For example, marketing teams have used insights from real-time data to target online sales coupons just after customers have browsed their websites. Operational facilities have used the monitoring capabilities of real-time analytics to prevent production slowdowns in the event of a faulty process.
In addition, real-time data analytics empowers organizations to::
- Reduce preventable losses: Real-time analytics’ immediate data feedback allows companies to minimize or prevent the damage associated with events such as security breaches, stock exchange crashes, manufacturing defects and negative social media barrages.
- Create customizable user experiences: Real-time analytics can provide a unique and responsive customer experience for users and consumers of your organization’s website. These applications allow you to recommend, cross-sell and upsell, depending on users’ interactions with the web content.
- Monitor and analyze day-to-day business operations: By accessing data streams available through sensors and web-enabled devices, businesses can gauge the effectiveness of IT systems, manufacturing control systems, financial transactions such as authentications and validations, and field assets such as vending machines, radio towers, delivery vehicles and oil rigs.
- Enhance the audit function: Audits can easily be an afterthought without real-time data analytics. How strategic can audit teams be if they’re limited by either historical or predictive data? Real-time data elevates audit since audit teams can use data streams to help the business pivot and ultimately remain competitive as the landscape or their customers evolve.
Real-time data analytics tools
Real-time data analytics is valuable, but that data can quickly become unwieldy. Real-time data analytics tools exist to automate the repetitive processes that can come with data collection. With collection and monitoring on autopilot, audit teams can instead focus on crafting reports that give boards better visibility.
Look for a real-time data analytics tool that can:
- Connect to any data source
- Offers advanced data analysis
- Continuously monitors your financial and IT controls
- Feeds you the data you need to respond in real-time
- Automate tasks to expand your team’s capacity
- Deliver reports with deeper risk insights
Learn more about ACL Analytics from Diligent.
Embed real-time data analytics into audit
Real-time data analytics give audit teams the power to advise on how the business environment should change almost instantaneously. From creating targeted marketing options to the safety assurances of remote-sensor data streams, real-time data analytics helps businesses adapt and shape their present moment.
But bringing real-time data analytics into audit comes with its own challenges, like how to train audit teams to use this new data, keeping that data secure, embedding with audit technology and setting proper expectations with the board.
Download our analytics and audit guide to learn how to overcome these challenges and more.