There’s a brilliant saying:
“Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it”
I think the saying is absolutely spot on – but the truth is big data is one of the most influential technology trends for the office of finance today. Don’t take my word for it, last year the IMA and ACCA labelled big data as one of the 3 most important technologies in the office of finance in this report here.
What is it about big data that can help the office of finance? It starts with having the ability to glean deeper insights into the internal and external forces that influence companies performances. Integrating big data brings new inputs and variables that help anticipate the future, enabling rolling views of leading indicators instead of the more retrospective views the office of finance has used historically. More frequent inputs allow companies to respond more rapidly to change.
By capitalising on data using Business Intelligence tools, the role of the office of finance is moving beyond optimising just the office of finance to being able to transform the entire company. Just as the Chief Marketing Officer would use big data to better understand their customers the CFO can use big data to better understand all aspects of the business from supply chain to resources to taxation.
When people think of big data in business they usually imagine all of the new types of data they can work with, by doing this they are overlooking one of the main benefits of big data as a technology which is that it allows executives to better interpret data they may already have access to.
By using some of the outstanding modern technology tools available from the likes of Oracle, IBM and SAP executives are able to interpret and analyse data that is delivered in pre-defined dashboards that allow the executive to drill down into the data should they wish to gain a deeper understanding of the source and variables of the data.
Big data in the office of finance allows CFO’s to predict business outcomes and influence the business leaders to deliver optimum results. CFO’s will also be able to more effectively push for changes throughout the business based on communicating business cases backed up by big data findings.