Big Data – The Next Big Thing for Finance Professionals

Diversification as to, how the decision making strategies
are being influenced, is being witnessed. Reliance on Big Data by companies for
decision making is gaining momentum. Hence it is very important to influence
all to think analytically, think strategically in a total context, deliver
insight through analytics, monitor organisational performance in an analytical
context, develop innovative business models and use analytics to transform
finance. A CA can diversify his services and provide management consultancy
services in providing Big Data Solutions to the client. A CA being exposed to
variety of business, data, knowledge etc. would be considered the right person
to provide solution for a company to implement Big Data Platform. Creativity is
the main factor for arriving at a able design of the framework. Hence it is
necessary to think out of the Box. Chartered Accountants now have the capacity
for rendering a new breed of services which would lead to immense growth and
development in the society.

History

Civilisation has been built on the foundation of
preservation of records and dependence on these records. Hence the importance
of identification, Analysis and Storage of records and data was recognized by
the dwellers of the past. Ever since, ‘Data’ has been the next most important
resource as ‘Time’ being the most important one to mankind. Data has been given
high relevance from then on.

Data includes any piece and bit of information which can be
recorded and stored to be put in use in the future. Civilization has realised
that efficient utilization of data would lead to effective growth. And over the
years man has continuously putting efforts to make the best use of data. New
ways of capturing data and analytics of the data is being constantly evolving
and has now become a field itself. Many terms have been coined for these series
of activities. Some of them are Data Warehousing, data analytics and presently
is being termed as Big Data.

Big Data Analytics

The industry now has a buzzword, “big data,” for
how we’re going to do something with the huge amount of information piling up.
“Big data” is replacing “business intelligence,” which
subsumed “reporting,” which put a nicer gloss on
“spreadsheets,” which beat out the old-fashioned
“printouts.”

Big Data is a scientific field of information analysis
wherein the following processes are part. They are –

  • Data
    Identification
  • Data
    Source Identification
  • Data
    Storage
  • Data
    Categorization
  • Data
    Analytics
  • Data
    Reporting
  • Life
    of Data

Big Data Analytics is now a huge field of Business itself.
Big data is a more complicated world because the scale is much larger.
Sophisticated tools have been developed to compliment Big Data Analytics. Open
Source tools such as Pentaho, Hadoop, Tabeleau, Splunk etc. are powerful tools
used for Big Data. Companies have been incorporated with the purpose of
providing Big Data Solutions.

Who uses Big Data?

The Big Data revolution began immediately soon after the
advent of the Word Wide Web. Ever since the e-platform was built and stabilized,
techniques of using the Internet for Business was developed, and thus, a new
market-place was born. Companies who use this market for their business
operations use big data to achieve the following objectives –

  • Demand
    and Supply Analysis
  • Improvisation
    of the Product Life cycle
  • Better
    rendering of services
  • Market
    Research
  • Customer
    Behaviour
  • Decision
    Making
  • Market
    Diversification
  • Market
    Penetration
  • Product
    Penetration

There are many classic examples of companies who make of
data to achieve the growth that they currently are having. Some examples are as
follows –

  • Flipkart,
    e-bay, Amazon (e-commerce giants) use big data to understand the needs of
    the consumer and hence always publishes those products on their respective
    websites for sale at a price that the customer cannot refuse.
  • Google,
    Microsoft, Yahoo use big data to understand the browsing patters of the
    customer and make sure to target the correct advertisements that would be
    needed to the user. Even their search engines provide those results,
    against the search phrase inputted by the user, which are of high
    relevance and would solve the problem faced by the buyer.
  • Facebook,
    Google Plus and other social networking sites use big data for the purpose
    of Consumer behaviour and give those advertisements, communities, pages
    etc. that would favour the user.
  • Telecom
    Companies use Big Data to understand the Calling, SMS, Internet and
    Roaming Patterns of their customers in order to provide better call
    tariffs and plans so that they capture the entire market.

From the above, one can conclude that, companies use big
data so that they are able to capture the customer and more importantly, retain
the customer.

Drawbacks of Big Data

Big data in the present era makes use of a lot of data for
analytics and storage. This means that the Confidentiality and Privacy of data
is now questionable. Privacy concerns are being developing as personally
identifiable information is used for analytics. Big Data, no doubt is a
powerful tool, but if misused, then the effects can be proven hazardous.

Numerous regulations have been passed by the legislation of
various countries to protect the integrity and availability of data and thus
the confidentiality and privacy of the data is secured. This entire acts of
restrictions have given rise to a whole new concept which is called as “Data
Localization”.

Data Localization, in simple words, refers to applying of
restrictions on the travel and storage of Data to the limit of a geographical
boundary.

Analytics from big data may not be always right due to the
constantly changing macro and micro factors of environment and change of human
behaviour.

Misuse of Big Data Analytics would lead to the following
other drawbacks –

  • Wrong
    sale of product and services
  • Advertisement
    Abuse
  • Sale
    of Personally identifiably information.
  • Financial
    Losses

Big Data Analytics as
a Fresh area of Consultancy

It is clear that companies harness the power of big data
analytics for their growth and Market Presence. It is however not clear to
those companies as to “Which is the best way to make use of Data”. There was a
proliferation of so-called unstructured data generated by all of the digital
interactions, from email to online shopping, text messages to tweets, Facebook
updates to YouTube videos. According to computer giant IBM, 2.5 Exabyte’s –
that’s 2.5 billion gigabytes (GB) – of data was generated every day in 2012.

Data is only as good as the intelligence we can glean from
it, and that entails effective data analytics and a whole lot of computing
power to cope with the exponential increase in volume.

Big Data and business analytics are two of the most exciting
areas in business and IT these days — but for most enterprises, they are still
developmental. Although the opportunities are boundless, the road to an
effective Big Data operation is fraught with challenges. Here are some of the
obstacles companies are being encountered –

  • Budget
  • Data
    clean-up
  • Data
    Retention
  • Business
    and IT Alignment
  • Developing
    new talent

A Chartered Accountant plays a vital role in assisting
businesses to improve the use of their resources, increase their efficiency and
achieve their objectives. As a management consultant CA can also identify,
evaluate and recommend ways to increase revenue and reduce operating costs,
analyse operations and suggest changes in structure and individual
responsibilities, conduct special studies, prepare recommendations, plans and
programs, and provide advice and technical assistance in their implementation.
Chartered Accountants by application of their technical knowledge and business
experience have been able to cater to the client’s changing needs.

With reference to Big Data Analytics, A CA can render the
following Management Consultancy Services –

  • Big
    Data Pre Implementation Preparation
  • Big
    Data Analytics Framework Design
  • Big
    Data Design of Dashboards, Reports and Visuals
  • Big
    Data Assurance

Big Data Pre Implementation Preparation –

A CA based on his knowledge, skills and judgement can
firstly help the company to facilitate a smooth big data implementation. While
accomplishing this goal seems realistic given the progression of technology and
the commoditization of infrastructure, there are common pitfalls that
companies, in particular, need to avoid when planning and implementing a big
data program. By avoiding these drawbacks, outcomes can enhance an
organization’s analytical insights and decision support processes. –

  • Developing
    a business case
  • Maximizing
    data relevance
  • Correct
    Estimation data quality
  • Ensuring
    data granularity is not overlooked
  • Contextualizing
    data in the correct manner
  • Grasping
    Data Complexity
  • Facilitating
    data preparation
  • Creating
    organizational maturity at the correct stage
  • Design
    of data governance methodology
  • Consideration
    of Privacy Laws and Data Localization Laws
  • Leveraging
    on cloud service vendors for implementation of Big Data platform

Big Data Analytics Framework Design –

Preparation for the implementation has to be given the most
importance and due care is to be taken for smooth implementation of the Big
Data platform. It is the very foundation and depending on the strength that is
present in the foundation, further expansion of the platform can be performed
smoothly.

The next step is the design of the Analytics Framework. A CA
can add maximum value addition as designing the analytics model is the very
solution for the Big Data Platform. This model has the following components –

  • Data
    Identification
  • Data
    Categorization
  • Linking
    of Data
  • Analytics
    on the data – It includes performing calculations, ratio analysis, trend
    analysis, linking of data etc. A CA can leverage the analytical methods
    that has been given under Standard of Audit 520 which is about Analytical
    Review Procedures.
  • Design
    of a scoring system and a decision making criteria
  • Design
    of Reports

All of the above constitute the model/framework which would
be then tested with data. The data may or may not be live data. However, a CA
can facilitate the test.

Upon successful completion of the tests, the framework would
have to be implemented in the production/live Big Data Platform. In simple
words, the Big Data Analytics tool would be configured to identify the data and
capture it from the source, link and categorize the data, perform analytics on
the data as per the parameters that have been set, assign scores and ratings on
the processed data and generate a report with a conclusion that would
facilitate the management to come to a decision regarding a problem.

Big Data Design of Reports and Dashboards –

As Big Data is a implementation of significant size, it
would involve many users using the solution. The users would may not be in the
same position of the organisation chart. Hence it is crucial that the employee
in his respective position of the organisation chart to have adequate access to
data which is sufficient, limited and in a logical presentation manner. A CA
can facilitate in design of different types of Reports, Dashboards and Visuals
that can be used by the appropriate personnel.

Reports –

A Report is a type of visual which would consist of data
which is processed, visuals and a conclusion to which a decision can be made by
the user of the report. The structure of the report is usually custom made and
this design is loaded to the tool.

It is important to note that only those information which is
material to the position is displayed in the report.

Dashboards –

A Dashboard is a real-time visual display of various data,
reports in the home-screen of the user’s account in the Big Data Platform. A
Dashboard would facilitate the user for smooth navigation among the available
Big Data inbuilt tools, reports, open items, pending decisions etc. A Dashboard
would contain visuals mainly of charts, status updates, links, List of reports
to be generated etc.

Big Data Assurance –

This is completely a new field under Big Data Analytics
itself. A CA will be able to provide assurance to the client regarding the
following scope of activities –

  • Privacy
    Laws and Data Localization Laws are complied with
  • Sufficient
    preventive and detective controls are in place and are continuously
    monitored against the identified risks
  • Ensuring
    that there is no data leakage from the platform
  • Reviewing
    the Big Data Analytics platform is loaded with the framework that is
    actually providing the value that is expected by the company.
  • Reviewing
    the storage controls that is implemented keeping in mind of the various
    Privacy and Data Localization laws
  • Reviewing
    that sufficient and adequate security measures have been deployed to
    protect the personally identifiable information of others
  • Ensuring
    that the data which is being captured by the Big Data Platform is legal
    and is from legal sources

Conclusion