Big data - it's not size that counts

Big data

The phrase ‘big data’ has of late become part of business lexicon, but what does it mean?

Forbes Magazine says it is ‘a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis’.

The data is drawn from sources as diverse as point of sale information, footfall monitoring, surveys, social media monitoring, CRM information and of course sales and production data.  Effectively used and by merging, mining and analysing data from these sources it can offer businesses exciting new opportunities  to personalise services to customers,  to optimise operations,  to take advantage of emerging trends or sales opportunities and manage risk. However there is a danger that viewed like this that the scale of the task could be overwhelming.

That is why on this programme we provide you with the knowledge to select the right tools for the task at hand. To understand the possiblities offered by technology and the services readily accessible today. 

It’s about smart data, not big data...

While undoubtedly big data holds great promise, for most businesses the focus should be on ‘smart data’.The emphasis should not be on the size of the data but rather on a solution that best meets the objectives of the project.The real potential comes less from the size of the data and more from the ability to manipulate, analyse and interpret it in sophisticated ways.The key to success is to set clear objectives and understand the data that you already have ready access to. Armed with this you can then choose the most appropriate tools for the job.

It’s true that pure big data is and will most likely remain the preserve of specialists, of data scientists and mathematicians.  Accountants are however perfectly positioned, due to the already high levels of confidence in the information they provide, to become ‘power-users’, interfacing between these data specialists and the business.  A recent ICAEW report reveals that due to accountants experience dealing with issues around quality data and analysis, as well as their natural prudence and scepticism, that they are well placed to take this leading role.