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The rise of big data

ACCORDING to a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) report, data has become a key focus for corporate leaders today. It also holds the potential to change the way business is done, in the view of nearly nine in ten (87 per cent) of the finance professionals surveyed for the report, which is titled "From insight to impact: Unlocking opportunities in big data."

Other research highlights that just over half (51 per cent) of corporate leaders now rank big data and analytics as a top ten corporate priority.

"This is all part of a wider shift towards a data-driven era of business, building on the ongoing IT revolution of recent decades," the report said. Here are some of the other insights from the survey:

  • Firms face a steep "learning curve" in harnessing their data for commercial benefit.

For most companies, fully adapting to a data driven era of business remains a work in progress. 86 per cent of the finance professionals surveyed agree that their businesses are struggling to get valuable insight from data, not least due to issues such as organisational data silos, challenges relating to data quality, or the ability to work with unfamiliar non-financial data.

  • Finance professionals are well placed to help translate data into commercial insights and value.

More than 90 per cent of survey respondents agree that finance has an essential role to play in helping their organisations benefit from data-related projects.

Delivering on the potential of data will make closer finance/business partnering more important than ever.

To truly unlock the opportunities in big data, management accountants will need to partner more closely with three sets of key stakeholders: their colleagues in IT who capture much of the data; the data scientists who can perform advanced types of analysis on that data; and finally business leaders who can ensure new ideas are turned into concrete action.

  • Data holds opportunities for finance professionals to unlock new career openings.

The data-enabled era creates an opportunity for today's management accountants to develop new skills and competencies. Indeed, 85 per cent of survey respondents believe that increasing their ability to work with big data will enhance their career and employability.