The sheer quantity of data produced by modern life can be hard to fathom: Everyday our planet generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.
And it’s increasing exponentially. Over 90% of the world’s data has been produced since 2011. Data isn’t new, of course - but as the world was digitised and more people began broadcasting information, data transcended the neatly organised databases where it was traditionally stored.
This wall of data has some enormous applications for business. In a recent post on AccountingWEB’s supplier zone, Aqilla observed, “The understanding of, and the ability to derive meaning from, the huge range of information held within an organisation to shape strategy and delivery.
“Big data is disrupting how we live, consume media and shop online. An algorithm could even predict the causes that matter to a certain individual. Data can be used to revolutionised the way we live our lives and the way people connect with causes.”
Data analytics is, by now, just a normalised part of enterprise. Even here at AccountingWEB, we use data dashboards to help quantify our readership and track user data.
In accountancy we’ve already witnessed the proliferation of forecasting tools which help to decipher the streams of information produced by clients. But another application that is perhaps overlooked is its anti-fraud applications.
Fighting fraud with figures
“Big data offers an intriguing method by which accountants can simultaneously increase the value they bring to the organization,” wrote Sean Stein Smith on AccountingWEB US. “The potential of big data has, until this point, focused primarily on the potential benefits and opportunities that leveraging technology can bring to operations, financial decision-making, and improving reporting metrics. These areas are obviously key to accounting professionals, but there is an additional angle that can, and should, be explored.”
But as Stein Smith observes, frequently ignored is the “major potential area of growth for big data adaptation and implementation is in the fight against fraud”. “At the end of the day, the true value that an accountant - whether working/owning at an accounting firm or within an organization - brings to the proverbial table is information and data,” Stein Smith told AccountingWEB.
About Francois Badenhorst
I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter.