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Corporate CFOs can get more out of big data

Richard Jones Archive

Companies everywhere have the potential to tap into big data and use it to improve their marketing, e-commerce and customer-service initiatives. By unearthing more information and using analytics while also striving for data quality, marketing executives can help shape their brands.

In addition to taking significant steps forward, corporate chief financial officers can also use data to avoid taking great risks. Running a big business is a high-stakes game, often rife with disaster scenarios such as fraud, cyberattack and government audit. By analyzing their financial numbers and looking for irregularities, CFOs can sniff out risky business practices before they become problematic.

If a suspicious uptick in activity is seen in one particular financial account or computer system, the trend may be evident of a greater problem. By detecting these abnormalities ahead of time, companies can nip their problems in the bud.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there's great potential for companies to get more out of big data while spending less money overall. Patricia Yarrington, CFO at Chevron, is excited about the possibilities.

"This offers a combination of much better quality for notably higher efficiency and lower costs," Yarrington told the newspaper.

The unfortunate news is that not many companies have gotten on the bandwagon yet. Among 634 business financial planners polled by Forrester Research in 2012, only 20 percent say they have already implemented big data technologies, while 24 percent more said they didn't have infrastructures in place but planned to implement them. There's still a surprising number of resistors - 19 percent said they were "not interested" in data and 6 percent said they "don't know" about the technology.

Data can do more than advance the business world - it can also make companies safer financially. Before that can happen, however, CFOs must be willing to embrace new technologies.