Guest author
Faye Chua
ACCA head of business insights
Faye Chua
Guest author
Faye Chua
ACCA head of business insights

Faye leads ACCA’s future research and its global research and insights programme with a focus on the future directions of business and the accountancy profession. Faye has over 10 years' experience across different economic sectors and has worked in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

The data revolution’s already happened. What next?

Managing data and the data lifecycle has become one of the key functions of modern business.

There is no escaping it. Our digitised lives mean that every click, call and purchase is tracked and analysed.

Data management is a risk, opportunity and a concern. You only have to see recent media articles about data privacy, cyber security and scamming to see that data can be used for good – and for nefarious – purposes.

Sometimes the use of data is surprising to say the least - a recent unexpected development about data and how it can be used to anticipate and manage risks was Australia’s New South Wales government’s use of data for ‘shark management’.

UK newspaper The Guardian reported that shark-tracking drones are being deployed to protect Australia’s beachgoers following a series of attacks on surfers. Trials will begin next week as part of a strategy by the government of New South Wales, which will also see hi-tech drum lines installed to allow sharks to be hooked, tagged and released further out to sea. Alongside this, an app is available called SharkSmart which sends real time shark alerts to the public using their mobile phones and tablets.

Behind the quirky headlines lies the serious usefulness of data management.

This is perhaps one of the most striking uses of data management, showing how creative – and careful - data analysis can identify risk and literally save people. But behind the quirky headlines lies the serious usefulness of data management, and how it is revolutionising lives – personally and in business.

A recent report called from ACCA and IMA entitled The Data Revolution draws attention to the radical change in the role of data in relation to the accountancy profession. While their day job may not be as risky as swimming with sharks, accountants have to manage inherent and very tangible day-to-day risks in finance and business.

Our report looks at issues of data management, data governance and data lifecycle, and describes key current and future trends for a broad range of data-related activities.

Demand for new data-related skills is already high, and it’s set to increase even further. So this report recommends that accountants and finance professionals must acknowledge that technology skills are no longer a ‘nice to have’, but rather a ‘must-have’, and be more proactive in getting and maintaining a skillset fit for the challenges that lie ahead.

There is even mention in the report that IT and finance could merge – where collaboration becomes convergence. Many finance and IT professional work together already, forging great working relationships that really secure great value from data.

But as one interviewee for the research for the report said, knowing the terminology and the technicalities really matters. Faris Dean, FCCA, Head of Business Services at Bowden Jones Solicitor said: “To properly advise a client it is essential to understand the terminology and the way in which the IT works and the data flows through that IT structure.”

The revolution’s already here. Long live the revolution!