US and UK finance pros are upbeat about big data’s potential to
change business in the longer term but right now many of them think companies are
losing significant sums because of inaccurate analytics.

Almost nine out of 10 global chartered management accountants and finance
pros – including CEO and CFO level executives – say big data and better analytics
will transform the way business is done over the next 10 years, according to a
survey by the American Institute of CPAs and the UK’s Chartered
Institute of Management Accountants.

However, an almost identical number of the 2,000 survey respondents
think businesses are struggling to turn growing volumes of data into valuable insights.

Yet it’s not just a failure to analyse current data. Many
think what data analytics is taking place is not merely inadequate but
positively detrimental.

More than one in three of those polled say incorrect analysis
of organisational data is having a significant impact on revenue. A similar
proportion feel they lack the technology tools to understand important new
trends affecting their business.

When it comes making significant improvements in providing
information for decision making or performance management, two-thirds of the
accountants cite the accuracy and reliability of information as a problem area.

Roughly the same number think the timeliness of the data is
also an issue.

The figures are contained in a new report, From insight to impact
– unlocking opportunities in big data
, which also highlights finance’s
insecurities about failing to take the lead with analytics.

“Big data raises challenging questions about the future role
of finance. Accountants could be sidelined as the professionals who specialise in
providing financial accounts to report past performance,” the report says.

“Alternatively, they could seize the opportunity to
become champions of big data as a source of evidence to support decision making
– and help to redefine how business is done.”

Perhaps understandably for a survey of finance pros, it’s
clear that accountants put themselves centre stage on questions of data
analytics, with a third of them thinking that finance leads on finance-related
data, and supports other forms of business analysis.

Only nine percent say they work as an equal partner with IT
and business heads on analytical tasks.

When asked who has responsibility for ensuring the organisation
gains a return on investment in data management technologies, 61 percent mention
the CFO and only 28 percent the CIO.