Exemplar Global has embarked on a journey to reinvent itself to better serve the future needs of the auditing profession.
Our organization is fast approaching 30 years in business, has undergone three name changes, and has evolved from a membership organization to one that delivers personnel certification. These evolutionary steps were taken in response to an industry need. Again, the time has come to take a look at what the future holds for our industry and what we can do to support it.
With 80 percent of auditors in the 55-65 age bracket, the future of the auditing profession is unsustainable. At most, we have five to 10 years before this wealth of knowledge disappears. Retaining this knowledge and enticing the next generation to consider a career in auditing is essential.
The way we currently administer certification will not work in this new landscape. We need to change this perception of certification from the final achievement in the career pathway to something that boosts your career in the middle. We need to align our products to this mindset and make them accessible, recognizable, valuable, and in demand.
With this in mind, what can Exemplar Global do to foster the future of auditing? To answer this question, we held an intensive one-day brainstorming session, or “hackathon.”
We invited customers and professionals with no knowledge of our business to participate in creative problem solving and brainstorming to “hack” and improve the current qualification‐based certification process. “Hacking” involves pulling something apart down to its raw components and reassembling them to perform a new or improved task.
To start, we developed a criteria of focus points for the hack:
- Improve and increase customer interaction.
- Develop a more streamlined approach for the certification process.
- Consider the potential to gamify the career pathway.
- Look at the possibilities of offering additional services.
These points were discussed at length by two groups throughout the course of the day. Although we initially set out to hack the qualification-based certification process, certification was only the beginning of the discussions. What we ended up with was much more meaningful dialogue and ideas that touched on the business as a whole. Here are some key concepts that we discussed.
As the different perspectives of those in attendance converged, the notion of new ideas was readily accepted.
Interestingly, the topic of certification for both groups led straight to the source of auditing sustainability—attracting the next generation. It became apparent early on that the value of graduates in the future is not to be overlooked. What this profession desperately needs is new recruits with a fresh perspective. As a profession, auditing has much to offer, as does certification and other services offered by Exemplar Global. We need to sell this value and create desire for what Exemplar Global has to offer.
Young professionals increasingly view their careers with a sense of flexibility—that they can have multiple careers and be equally successful across each endeavour. As a result, many graduates are unsure of the professional path to take. Many people don’t know what they want to do as a career or what their next step is. Imagine if there was a tool to help these people decide on a career and services to help them achieve their goals.
Enter gamification. You only need to look at the overnight success of Pokemon Go to see the success of gamification—the key concept of which is striving to reach the next level. What if this model could be applied to certification?
Returning again to the concept of graduates. What if they could be paired with a professional with 20-plus years of experience to help foster their career development as part of a mentoring program. This could be promoted to graduates as an opportunity to develop their career through work experience. This environment would be beneficial for both parties, with the mentor gaining the satisfaction of passing on their knowledge and establishing themselves as a thought leader. The knowledge of our customer base is something that should be tapped into, beyond just mentoring. Building these relationships and a professional community network is beneficial for both older and younger generations.
Customer Service/Streamlined Certification
Before we address either of these points, one key takeaway for the day was that young people—those who the future of the auditing profession relies on to survive—don’t know what auditing is. At a tertiary level, auditing is rarely spoken of, and, if it is, it is in a negative light. Auditing needs to be actively promoted, along with the benefits the profession can offer, including earning potential and opportunity for travel. To put it simply, we need to make auditing sexy.
Now let’s look at the “dream” customer service/certification for the future. Firstly, we need to find a more interactive way to engage with customers through our online portal. It needs to be personalized, customizable and able to be utilized for career progression. This can be something an individual can build, add to as required, and even share with potential employees.
Interaction was another key theme identified at the hack. Customers love feeling like they are valued and that the process they are working through is an easy one. However, every customer is different and, as such, a one-size-fits-all approach to customer interaction will not suffice. Some people will be interested in being engaged through an online chat, or only want to be contacted via phone or email. Some will need to be provided specialized career assistance. We need to cater to the needs of everyone and make ourselves easier to deal with.
While the hack didn’t necessarily address our original objective, the learnings that we gained from pulling apart our business were much more valuable on a fundamental level. We are left with many exciting ideas on how we can improve ourselves for the good of the profession. This was definitely a positive experience for Exemplar Global. Stay tuned to see what Exemplar Global 2.0 looks like.