The Death of Business Intelligence

Big data opportunities for CFOs

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on November 27, 2013

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are at the heart of an organization’s operations. Holding the purse strings, everything done by the enterprise needs to come through them at some point.

This means a lot of control and oversight. But it also entails a huge volume of data that is relevant to the finance function. Monitoring, harvesting and assimilating this information is not an easy task, and one that CFOs recognise as a significant challenge.

Big data is seen as one of the major technology trends affecting the accounting profession, according to a recent report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The global survey polled over 2,100 finance professionals from around the world.

Of the US respondents, 62 per cent said big data would be influential, compared with 91 per cent of Australian respondentsand only 47 per cent of respondents from Ireland. US participants also claimed big data will demand new skills, with 72 per cent responding that tools will be needed to support data modelling and analysis. Three-quarters (77 per cent) claimed they will need knowledge of data extraction tools to aid business intelligence.

US finance professionals seem a lot more clued up about big data than their British peers. Just 52 per cent of UK respondents said it would be impactful in the years ahead.

Whether in the US or the UK, however, it seems CFOs need to do more with big data, to understand it and harness it to their advantage.

Chris Gentle, head of research at Deloitte and a member of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy, says accountants and financial professionals must be able to adapt to the changes created by big data. “The future will not be like the past, and we will all need to adapt,” he explains.

Raef Lawson, IMA vice president of research, adds: “US accountants and finance professionals are influential agents of change; they’re adept at using technology to advance their careers, their clients’ prospects and their own organizations.

“But they need to extend that influence to advising clients. Only 35 per cent of US respondents said they could influence their clients’ use of technology, compared to 80 per cent of respondents in Africa.”

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