Business analytics is now a fundamental requisite for effective accounting practice, says Simon Wright, operations director of CareersinAudit.com
It used to be the case that business analytics skills in the accounting and finance professions were simply the proverbial cherry atop a sundae of prerequisite expertise. Yet in today’s fast-paced technological era they are as essential as any other “ingredient”.
As employers struggle to recruit and retain those individuals in possession of these skills and the so-called “soft” talents for effective written and verbal communication, candidates with experience of both will find themselves more in demand. As a relatively young skillset, companies are more willing to provide the training and resources to enable accounting professionals to obtain the experience and understanding required for big data projects, from operating the relevant software to extracting accurate results in a timely fashion.
Big data has been a core driver in the shift we’ve observed in accounting roles within organisations, as the demand for those fluent in technology and its many strengths and weaknesses has proven substantial to the survival of modern business. Getting to grips with the financial instruments and tools used to analyse big data and decipher the hidden patterns buried within reams and reams of numbers has become an important skill within the world of accounting and finance.
The face of accounting and the financial services industry has changed, with a rise in automated processes and demand for business intelligence placing added expectation on accounting teams to do far more than just tend to the numbers. Employers are looking for candidates able to dissect financial data and extract important trends, actionable insights and recommendations to be handed up to those responsible for making key decisions within the organisation.
Utilised in conjunction with business intelligence, which involves centralising data from a range of databases before the act of analysis is carried out, business analytics requires an accountant’s interpretive understanding to read the figures and use that to identify and calculate core performance indicators within the business. It is this skill, not to mention the trust typically placed in accountants, which serves to generate effective business intelligence within any organisation.
Add real value
Adding real value to an organisation, accountants with the ability to apply analytical thinking and problem solving skills to business intelligence strategy, can change the state of play by offering beneficial insights into every area of business. So much so that they’re even being given a say at the board table in order to share in the discussion of strategic processes.
Organisations need their accountants to bring simplicity to the numbers and make them intelligible to the business at large, in order to predict future performance and subsequently meet intended goals. So, with the presence of analytics bridging the gap between finance and the business, accountants are finding themselves in a position to bring real change to an organisation. Looking beyond their traditional scope and evolving to a more organic perspective that encompasses the company as a whole, the potential for strategic development has been added to the classic cost controlling and reporting roles ascribed to accountancy.