How Big Data Is Changing the Finance and Accounting Landscape

If your iPhone perplexes you sometimes, then get ready. Increasingly, accountants need to be tech savvy to do their jobs well. In fact, the big data phenomenon is fundamentally changing the finance function. Here’s how big data is modifying expectations for accounting and finance professionals everywhere.

Change #1: Connecting IT and Finance
Never before has IT and finance worked so closely together. Indeed, accounting and finance professionals will increasingly need to bridge the gap between IT and the business.

ReadDoes Not Compute – Increasing Tech Demands on Accountants” to learn more.

Change #2:  Unstructured Data
In some cases, an organization may employ an entirely separate unit to analyze the data. For example, a “Customer Data Analytics” team comprised of data miners and SAS programmers may be created to analyze the data captured from various customer segments. Not all organizations, however, have the means to fund separate teams to mine their data.  In these circumstances, organizations may look to their finance partners.  This places an increased expectation on the finance partner to have the SAS or SQL skills necessary to sift through the data and capture relevant insights.

Read: “4 Ways Big Data Will Change Every Business” to learn more about the impact of big data.

Change #3: The Audit Function
One only has to look at the audit function to see the impact of big data. In the past, auditors would manually examine correspondence. Now, there is technology to analyze text. And in this age of instant gratification, where more tasks are being automated to improve accuracy and delivery time, there is a decreased margin of error for audit professionals.

Change #4: The Cloud and Small Business
Cloud accounting and real-time reporting has fundamentally shifted the small business finance function. It allows accountants to collect data within a given industry and develop performance benchmarks that can be used to advise clients. The result – an increased demand for higher margin planning services.

Key Takeaways
The line between IT and finance is becoming blurred. Whether it’s advanced SQL skills or cloud based accounting software, big data is fundamentally altering the finance function. On the bright side, big data offers finance and accounting professionals a greater chance to become strategic advisors and business leaders.

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