Regardless of your industry, experience or mission, business is, at the end of the day, a numbers game. And in today’s big data revolution, the more numbers you have, the better your ability to separate yourself from the competition. In 2012, Harvard Business Review and experts from The Wharton School, MIT and McKinsey & Co. found “companies in the top third of their industry in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average, 5 percent more productive and 6 percent more profitable than their competitors.” But what exactly is big data, and how can it work for your business? We turned to BKD CPAs & Advisors, which has a Big Data & Analytics practice with six full-time employees, to find out.
The accounting firm has been working in the realm of big data since the late 2000s, though the company’s forensics practice had been relying on similar analyses to investigate embezzlement and fraud claims prior to then. Big data is essentially the practice of data analysis on steroids, where powerful programs and trained professionals sift through an enormous amount of complex and diverse information to identify patterns, trends and previously hidden insights. Executives and leaders can then use these conclusions to fuel future business decisions. “Companies of all kinds of sizes are trying to figure out basically how to better utilize the data that they have for business intelligence, to make better decisions, et cetera,” says Angela Morelock, managing partner of the Forensics & Valuation Services department in Springfield.
BKD has worked with hundreds of businesses, including small nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies, on big data solutions. Morelock offers the example of BKD’s health care practice, which has collected all the Medicare claims from the past several years into a data set. “We utilize that data to build various things—dashboards, metrics—that help our hospital clients, in particular, compare to the metrics of the rest of the industry,” she says.