Big data: its power and perils

This report presents a balanced picture of the impact of big data on the accountancy and finance professions in the coming five to ten years by identifying specific opportunities and challenges for the accountancy and finance professions.


The amount of information published was growing exponentially before the world embraced computers and information became digital. Converging technology trends, the shift from analogue to digital, widespread mobile device adoption, internet-connected systems and ‘exhaust data’ from physical objects (also known as the internet of things, or the internet of everything: IoE) have combined to create the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data we now call ‘big data’.

New types of data will throw up new challenges as well: over the next decade, new standards for measuring and valuing data will be developed, with the inclusion of new and more diverse datasets in reporting, modelling and forecasting. There are less measurable issues too, such as those concerning ethics and privacy. The debate about the impact and implications of these has barely begun – but getting them wrong could prove to be explosive.