(Updated! See below)
Internet auditing is to me the same as internet surgery. Even in cases of remote surgery, you have someone local who has skills wielding the knife while the expert walks the TEAM through it from afar.
There is no model session in internet auditing. The “A” in ARC is strained because of the distance between auditor and PC. The “R” is strained because your interaction is in 2 dimensions (at best) rather than three, and the auditor can not see the entire auditing environment, or the PC. The “C” is strained because of the inherent lag time that absolutely exists between auditor and PC, the reduced number of perceptics that are available to the auditor to communicate with the PC, and the lag time and vias between cans and “e-meter”, and the lag inside the software-based, one-of-many-processes-running-on-a-Windows-computer “e-meter” when your read is forced latent because of lack of real-time processing capability of Windows (Windows will assume that processing an internet packet or mouse movement is more important than processing the translation of a digital impulse to a fake-analog output meter dial). Result is there are NO instant reads captured. Internet auditing makes that an impossibility.
There is no real session control. The PC can just up and walk out at any time. So, the auditor’s TR4 is forced out. The auditor’s 8C is forced out. The auditor is not really there, so there is no real “Auditor + PC > bank” factor there. The bank can up and walk away with the PC and the auditor is there staring at a Skype screen. So, sure, if the PC is not running anything real, internet auditing could be somewhat workable. But you are left with your dick in your hands the moment you hit something that requires auditor skill.
I know some people are in love with this crap, but get cussing over it. Either get the PC to show up at your door, or show up at the PC’s door, and do it right. Internet auditing is an excellent example of “just because you can do something does not mean you should.
UPDATE: November 8, 2012. This post started as a comment on Marty Rathbun’s blog, and I had a follow-on that I should add here that expands on the reasons why internet auditing should be avoided. Note – I am not picking on people who advocate this. I understand people are trying different things to get the tech out there, and I do not have the opinion that people who engage in this are evil people at all. And I understand the appeal – using high-tech to deliver the tech, expand your reach to the planet, etc. However, there are fundamental problems with auditing delivered remotely that are systemic to the medium, and I consider advocates misinformed and/or lucky.
(Additional comment inserted below:)
I use Skype/GoToMeeting/WebEx and internet technologies on a daily basis for my work – I could not live where I live and do what I do without it. I get being in love with the technology, and it is really cool that you can video call people on Skype or Google+ or Facetime or whatever and have great conversations with people, and when you go high-end, like HALO and the Cisco teleconferencing tech, it is fabulous.
But it does not replace physical co-location. It can only work where the ARC is already there, and the discussion is straightforward. As an example, daily Skypes to the significant other is a great way to stay in touch over long distances, but only a heel would break up with someone over Skype. Why? Because physical co-location matters.
I know my parents would rather have my son in their lap in the same room than have a call over Skype. They love Skype calls, but they would rather we be there in person. As I noted, there are 53 perceptics. Skype cuts off most of them.
I am sure people who engage in internet auditing mean well. But compare what is happening in a Skype situation with the five Gross Auditing Errors (HCOB 12 Sept 65, “Out Tech”):
1. Can’t handle and read an e-meter.
Your meter is by definition faulty over any kind of internet connection. Therefore, you have no meter, and if you try to use an e-meter remotely, you will miss reads, F/Ns – pretty much everything.
Technically, what is happening with an e-meter when you have a real e-meter is:
Cans -> wire -> e-meter circuitry -> needle movement.
A software-based e-meter Over the internet, on the other hand, is:
Cans -> wire -> A2D translater -> USB bus -> communications processor -> emeter capture app of some kind -> TCP/IP stack -> network card -> wire or air packets -> router (packet assembly) -> modem (packet assembly) -> router (packet assembly) -> [router router router router…] -> modem (packet reassembly)-> router (packet reassembly) -> air or wire packets -> network card (packet reassembly) – TCP/IP stack -> E-meter app -> D2A translater -> graphics code -> screen.
As bad as the above looks, it is worse than that, because the apps and network cards on both PCs involved are being preempted and scheduled by consumer-grade operating systems (usually Windows). And, there is nothing that can be done about it, because physics is what it is in this universe.
3. Can’t get and keep a pc in session.
You may be able to get a PC in session, but not keep him there when the going gets rough. You really can’t rely on the willingness of the PC to play along. Everythings cakes and roses until you hit a real engram or GPM or Missed Withhold, or out list. There are many, many times when you have to be there physically with them. One time missed in an internet session is a GAE.
2 out of 5 GAEs is pretty bad. All five need to be in all the time.