I am a diehard fan of “Peaky Blinders” a popular BBC television series picked up by Netflix. Set in 1919, it chronicles the rise of an Irish crime boss, Thomas Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, as he makes his way in the rough world of Birmingham, England and beyond. Netflix knows I really like this show. They know that I watched the entire fifth season in one sitting. So it was easy for Netflix to recommend two more movies dealing with similar themes that I also found riveting; The Irishman and The King. 

Big Data has revolutionized entertainment. But it also has revolutionized business. A recent IMA survey of 170 members has found accounting and finance professionals keenly aware of the role Big Data can play in transforming their organizations. The results,  “The Impact of Big Data on Finance: Now and in the Future”, speak to this fact. Companies deploying Big Data initiatives will double in the future, far outpacing the implementation of other “hot technologies.” What companies value most about Big Data is its contribution to performance measurement, where the objective measures it uses clarify decision-making around critical areas of the business. 

When Big Data strategies are properly implemented, data-driven cultures can be built and improvements in things like fraud recognition can be made. For example, the report cites how the British National Health Service (NHS) deployed a new analytics infrastructure that allowed it to identify roughly £100 million in potential savings following a reduction in benefit fraud and the risk of human error in identifying it. 

So what is holding firms back from implementing Big Data strategies? Lack of knowledge about what data they need and lack of cross-functional buy-in appear to be the two biggest hurdles. This echoes what others who have studied Big Data implementation have found. Deloitte’s “2019 Becoming an Insight-Driven Organization” survey found most executives feeling their companies are not “insight-driven” or “consistently embedding analysis, data, and evidence-based reasoning into the decision-making process.” Among the results: 

  • Just 37% rate their companies in the top two categories of the insight-driven organization maturity scale
  • A mere 10% fall into the highest category 
  • Less than desirable infrastructure, silos, and ad hoc implementation are all barriers that the remaining survey respondents (63%) cited as impediments 

Executives poor assessment of their data capabilities shed light on why implementation of Big Data can be so difficult. The IMA survey found that Big Data is most often championed at the executive level (a full two thirds of IMA survey respondents said their Big Data initiative was championed by executives). If executives lack faith in their organizations’ ability to properly implement Big Data, chances are it will not implemented at scale. 

But organizations that are not utilizing Big Data are missing out. SnapLogic recently quantified by how much. They estimated there is a 547% ROI differential between organizations that embrace data initiatives versus those who do not. 

Just like Netflix data capabilities have been game-changers for home entertainment, so too has Big Data been transformational for organizations. While Big Data strategies can be hard to implement, the pay off can be enormous. It’s a cost/benefit analysis for every finance and accounting professional to consider. 

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