What does it take for an organization to be truly data-driven? IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) canvassed 170 members from around the world to find out changing organizational attitudes towards analytics and Big Data, and the progression of their usage moving forward. The newly released report, “The Impact of Big Data on Finance Now and in the Future,” assesses how organizations are increasingly harnessing Big Data and how this change presents an opportunity for finance and accounting professionals to build on their proficiencies around data governance and analysis.

Based on a survey of IMA members, this study finds that companies that have implemented Big Data have already begun to reap the benefits. These organizations report significant improvement in performance, especially in the areas of performance measurement and strategy formulation.

“Big Data is being implemented by companies at a much higher rate than other technological initiatives, and the number of companies that use it will double in the near future,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CSCA, CPA, CFA, CAE, IMA professor-in-residence and vice president of research and policy. “For accounting and finance professionals, this provides an opportunity to increasingly assume the role of business partner with others in their organizations, as they draw on other competencies in governing, analyzing, and communicating data.”

The report identifies several key considerations that will allow companies to successfully implement Big Data without roadblocks. Companies are advised to:

  • Start simple and small when first implementing Big Data projects
  • Expand the sources of data used and explore potential uses not only of data available internally but also of data available externally
  • Get information based on data in the hands of those who need it, on a real-time basis
  • Get buy-in for Big Data and leading-edge analytics initiatives at both the executive and departmental levels
  • Develop strategies for the effective use of leading-edge analytic techniques and technologies
  • Build strong data governance and quality infrastructure in order to ensure data integrity and quality

The research expands on the findings of a previous report, “How to Embrace Data Analytics to Be Successful,” which explored the four necessary elements identified in a company looking to develop analytical capabilities: data-savvy people, quality data, state-of-the-art tools, and organizational intent. More details regarding this and other findings are available in the report and on IMA’s Technology & Analytics Center, an online resource for professionals.

The full report is available here.