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Big Data, Big Capabilities: Developing the Senior Finance Professionals of the Future to Exploit the Benefits of Big Data

Funder: 

ICAS – Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

Project Team:

Dr Alessandro Merendino
Prof Maureen Meadows

Duration:

1 May 2021 until 31 July 2022

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Project overview

Big Data (BD) has had a significant impact on both how and what information senior finance professionals/accountants access and use to inform their decision-making. BD can lead to a range of benefits for businesses; for instance, it can enable innovation and knowledge creation. However, professional bodies, policy-makers and researchers all point to the need for senior finance professionals/accountants to acquire new capabilities if they are to make more informed decisions by using BD in their decision-making processes. These new BD capabilities, often misunderstood or overlooked, should become valuable tools as the finance/accountancy professions positions themselves to benefit from BD. In particular, this project will focus on senior (i.e. strategic/board level) financial professionals/accountants with responsibility for commercial decision-making.

Project objectives

The study aims to address the following research objectives:

  1. To examine the main capabilities that senior finance professionals/accountants need to make good use of BD in their decision-making
  2. To analyse the main obstacles to the roll-out of BD capabilities
  3. To propose how senior finance professionals/accountants can acquire and develop a portfolio of these new capabilities.

Impact statement

Impact Implications for the Finance/Accountancy Profession and Academics

  • Improved knowledge of BD for the finance/accountancy profession. This project will bring together senior finance professionals/accountants to understand how BD applies across different areas of finance/accountancy (such as digital technology). The finance/accounting profession can and should engage with BD by, for instance, using predictive models (ICAS, 2020). However, this requires a novel set of capabilities in order to deploy BD for the success of the company. This study will contribute to the enhancement of senior finance professionals and accountants’ knowledge/skills concerning how BD can be used to make more efficient/effective decisions.
  • Improved organisational approach to BD. This project will seek to prompt a change in organisational culture regarding BD. We seek to demonstrate the importance of BD capabilities for senior finance professionals/accountants across the organisation; and we argue that an enhanced understanding of the benefits of such capabilities can drive an improved organisational approach to BD.
  • Improved policy recommendations. This project will deliver evidence to regulators and standard setters, like ICAS, to inform the public debate and policy development on which BD capabilities senior finance professionals/accountants should invest in and acquire to maximise the benefits of BD in finance/accounting.
  • Improved knowledge in the research arena. This project will enrich our knowledge of BD in the field of management research and the knowledge-based firm. Many scholars have called for a more nuanced and deeper understanding of this phenomenon. This study will therefore contribute to boosting the BD research debate that is currently taking place via a number of initiatives where the applicants are already involved. These include conferences (e.g. Conference on 'Tension in the Data Environment’), calls for special issues (e.g. Special issue on Big Data - https://www.journals.elsevier.com/technological-forecasting-and-social-change/call-for-papers/tension-in-the-data-environment), new big data research centres/clusters (e.g. ‘Data, Organisation and Society’ research cluster of the submitting University) and recently published research (e.g. Merendino et al., 2018; Ferreira, Merendino and Meadows, 2019).

Outputs

  • 4 interim reports
  • 1 final report
  • Articles for ICAS
  • Press Releases
  • Launch Event
  • Webinars
  • Guest Lectures
  • Scientific Publications in 3*/4* ABS list

In this article, the academics working on the ICAS funded project on the topic of Big Data (BD) for Senior Finance Professionals, introduce the origins and objectives of their research: Big Data, Big Capabilities: Developing the Senior Finance Professionals of the Future to Exploit the Benefits of Big Data.

Find out more in the latest CURB blog: Big data in accounting and finance

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