Businesses have access to more data than ever before, yet many struggle to make the most of this valuable information. They need analytical help every step of the way, from the initial capturing of data to interpreting the meaning to making the best decisions based on the results. Where will they find this expert-level data analysis?
An accounting background makes you the perfect candidate.
You already understand the inner workings of the business and it’s your job to offer objective, evidence-based insights. Data analysis is simply another tool to do what you’ve done all along — improve decision-making, support strategic goals, add value and sharpen performance.
Employers often seek new hires with data analysis skills rather than training up current employees, so whether you’re on the job market or want to make yourself indispensable at your current position, now is the time to start upskilling.
1. What you need to know about big data
You work with data day in and day out, so aren’t you already conducting data analysis? Not necessarily — you need to move beyond financial data and enterprise data, into the vast world of big data.
Financial data is the basic information our profession relies on. It’s reliable and easily trackable.
Enterprise data not only includes the financial data of an individual business but also includes its transactional and operational information. And remember, the more factors you can incorporate into analyses the stronger the results and the resulting decision-making.
Big data is all this and more. While financial data and enterprise data make up the bedrock of quantifiable information, businesses are increasingly pulling in data from new internal and external sources. Think of metrics gleaned from the news, social media or other online communications and how they might affect decision-making.
Municipal administrators use big data to forecast public interest and demands for changes in utilities, transportation and other areas. In the retail space, businesses leverage big data to predict customer behavior, develop digital products and evolve their operating models.
Big data provides the insights that financial institutions rely on to manage lines of credit, conduct fraud analysis and much more — just a few examples of how big data is making major waves across every industry and sector.
2. How to use data analytics to create professional career opportunities
Every aspect of the business model can benefit from data analysis, but it’s not enough to simply gather information. Businesses need to be able to spin raw data into golden insights. This is where you come in.
Depending on your interests and experience, you can stand out in several positions:
Filling this role may involve improving your technical abilities, as the data sets you’ll work with are as complex as they are numerous.
If you’re able to mine data, write code, derive algorithms and carry out other advanced analytics, you’ll be in high demand.
If you’re not there yet, it’s time to start studying data science. An accounting skillset backed up with advanced analytical skills is a future-proof combination for success.
Properly capturing and managing data is the cornerstone of every business, and overseeing the relevant processes and systems can be a full-time commitment.
While data management may have been left to IT professionals in the past, businesses increasingly need candidates with a strong accounting background. Use your position as a trusted business adviser to ensure the integrity of data, guide best practices and take charge of data planning.
You don’t need to be a data science whiz to help businesses make the most of big data. Fostering the right kind of company culture is every bit as important as analyzing the right kind of data.
You can provide professional objectivity and ensure the business is making the most of their data in terms of evidence-based strategizing and decision-making.
As a management accountant, it’s your job to understand an organization inside and out. Your familiarity with every aspect of the business puts you in an ideal position to partner with data scientists, business managers and IT professionals.
If you’re interested in performance management and creating value, data analysis can help with everything from measuring intangible factors such as customer relationships to driving innovation.
3. Steps you can take today
Start by exploring the full range of CIMA’s digital learning resources. Learn what burgeoning technologies can be used to analyze data — new software, machine learning and RPA will rapidly improve your results. And be sure to consider your professional ethics concerning big data.
Always remember that rational analysis of the right information can help any business make better decisions and improve operations. Doing so requires more than just crunching the numbers; you need to be able to present evidence that backs up your claims. Do that and you’ll guarantee your future.
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