Big Data Analytics: Opportunity or Threat for the Accounting Profession?
Richins, G., Stapleton, A., Stratopoulos, T. C., & Wong, C. (2017). Big Data Analytics: Opportunity or Threat for the Accounting Profession? Journal of Information Systems, 31(3), 63–79. https://doi.org/10.2308/isys-51805
40 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2016 Last revised: 29 Mar 2021
Date Written: September 10, 2016
Contrary to Frey and Osborne’s (2013) prediction that the accounting profession faces extinction, we argue that accountants can still create value in a world of big data analytics. To advance this argument, we provide a conceptual framework based on structured/unstructured data and problem driven/exploratory analysis. We argue that accountants already excel at problem driven analysis of structured data, are well positioned to play a leading role in the problem driven analysis of unstructured data, and can support data scientists performing exploratory analysis on big data. Our argument rests on two pillars: accountants are familiar with structured data sets, easing the transition to working with unstructured data, and possess knowledge of business fundamentals. Thus, rather than replacing accountants, we argue that big data analytics complements accountants’ skills and knowledge. However, educators, standard setters, and professional bodies must adjust their curricula, standards, and frameworks to accommodate the challenges of big data analytics.
Keywords: big data, data analytics, job automation, managerial accounting, financial accounting, auditing
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