How big data is changing the profession

By Samantha White

CGMA research has shown that 84% of finance professionals think Big Data and analytics will change how they work over the next five years.

Big Data analytics enables companies to conduct predictive modelling and forecasting. It provides businesses with the opportunity to deliver better sales and marketing performance, and could also result in new data-driven products and services.

In this context, CGMA designation holders will be central to decision-making. They will be expected to help bring big data insights into the business context and become instigators of change.

So how can management accountants ensure that their organisations are leveraging the opportunities of Big Data?

In a recent CGMA Twitter chat, Tari Masamvu, who is CIMA’s technical lead on Big Data and one of the authors behind the CGMA report From Insight to Impact: Unlocking Opportunities in Big Data, and chat participant David Brady, a finance and employee transformation consultant with Capgemini, gave the following advice: 

  • Management accountants are already well placed to advise the business on data quality and governance issues and you can help develop the ethical framework around big data. Begin by understanding the drivers of management information. In addition to developing a good understanding of your organisation’s business model and its data architecture, ask what the business wants to gain from Big Data and examine how that aligns with the organisation’s strategy.
  • Next, develop a clear data strategy. Avoid silos with data stored across multiple systems and platforms. Master data management is a critical starting point in any good data and analytics strategy. Good-quality data, in a consistent format for analysis, is critical to gaining useful insights.
  • Establishing a line of sight from each key performance indicator to the balance sheet is also important. The business needs to know the “so what” behind the metrics.
  • To better engage with big data, work on developing core statistical skills.
  • Brushing up on your soft skills is also beneficial. The finance professional’s role is to make business sense of insight provided by the data scientist and communicate the ramifications for company strategy to other departments.