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AFP 2018 Blog

How to Implement Big Data Analytics in your Organization

Apr 10, 2018

It’s becoming more and more popular for Big Data Analytics tools to be used for executive reporting in the finance and operational areas of organizations. However, when it comes to implementing these tools, there is no one answer that is right for every organization. To start you thinking about this opportunity in your own organization, here are some of the areas to consider.

Expectations of Different Roles

A company must first define how the implementation of Big Data Analytics tools will help or hinder the expectations of some of the critical roles in financial organizations.

Each role in an organization needs to have clear expectations. The person filling a role needs to know what is expected of them, and colleagues need to understand the expectations of others so that they know who to go to with questions or who can give approvals. Such expectations allow the organization to evaluate employees’ performance for compensation and advancement purposes.

When considering whether a new tool will help an organization, one needs to similarly look at the roles that it will impact and how the tool will help each role be successful.

Interactions with Existing Tools

The information that organizations use to make decisions is never isolated on its own. It is always related to or derived from other data that has been gathered in the organization. When any new tool is considered, one must take into account how the tool will interact with the existing tools.

Among the questions to consider are:

•   Will the new tool require changes to existing tools or methods of working with existing tools?
•   Is the data format between tools compatible?
•   Does the new tool accurately interpret the meaning of source data it gets from other tools?

How Accurate is the Business Case for Implementation?

Any new tool will only be implemented after a business case shows significant net benefits to the organization. The organization looks at the costs of the tool and the benefits arising from successful implementation in terms of efficiencies or additional capabilities. Too many projects have failed to be successful because the benefits were not realized and the costs were higher than anticipated. Management must therefore weigh the benefits with the costs that may not be evident before implementation.

Can a Tool Replace an Expert?

Today’s tools are often promoting that they have the intelligence to uncover insights through machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other high-tech terms. However, when you ask an expert in your organization how they came to a conclusion, they can explain their thinking and you can probe or challenge areas where you are unsure. We come to trust the judgement of the experts we rely on because they have proven their value to the organization. It’s important to measure to what degree a tool can replace the reasoned thought of an expert, and adjust roles accordingly.

Communicating Insights that Inspire Action

Organizations are always looking for better ways to communicate data and analysis to employees, stakeholders, and executives.

Regardless of the tool being used, if financial professionals cannot effectively communicate the insights from their analysis, the organization will not take the actions necessary to achieve their goals. Usually visuals are more effective at communicating messages than simply text or large tables of numbers. The visual outputs of these new tools can be used to convey your analysis when reporting to executives and other groups.

If you have implemented Big Data Analytics tools in your organization or are contemplating doing so, come to my session, “Using Big Data Analytics in Executive Reporting” at AFP 2018 and learn more about the best strategies and techniques to consider. As we explore the different perspectives and experiences, we can all make better decisions on the investments in these tools.

Dave Paradi