The problems with big data?

Big Data

Big Data (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

The previous two posts have hopefully given you a very brief insight into what big data is and how it can help even small organisations. Now let’s briefly consider larger organisations. Nowadays, even if a company like amazon can process a few million orders a day, the amount of accounting data associated with this (i.e.  a few million invoice and a few million payments) seems insignificant if we start to think about other data that might be collected at the same time. For example – and these are just a guess on my part – the age, sex, location of the purchaser, the type of device they searched and bought on, what the looked at before buying etc. The amount of data starts to get really, really big.

A report by Deloitte includes two quotes that capture the perceptions of big data really well:

“Big data is the new oil. The companies, governments, and organizations that are able to mine this resource will have an enormous advantage over those that don’t.”

“Big data will generate misinformation and will be manipulated by people or institutions to display the findings they want.”

(Source: The insight economy Big data matters— except when it doesn’t, Deloitte, 2012, available at link above)

As the report says, both the above perceptions are right. The key things about big data is getting information out of it and transforming that information into business knowledge. In other words, like many other things organisations encounter on a regular basis, big data needs to support the organisation’s strategy. This may mean being more competitive, gaining some market knowledge before others or opening up new business channels. Whatever big data might mean for larger (and smaller) organisations, I believe management accountants in particular have a key role in making in useful information/knowledge – after all, we are good at analysing information and filtering out what is relevant.



About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

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