Recent study uses experimental and textual analyses to understand how managers use big data, e.g., social media, relative to traditional data in their budgeting procedures. In a period of substantial technological change, big data is a game changer for multiple business processes, including management accounting.
Big data and downwards forecasts
A recent study from the University of St.Gallen, Monash University, Laval University and the University of Melbourne asked: Do managers utilise information collected via social media, for example in their budgeting when they receive negative forecasts? Research shows that there is a reluctance to use information derived from big data when forecasts follow an unexpected downward trend. The study indicates that because managers feel uncomfortable with big data, they are more reluctant to use it in adverse situations.
Interestingly, the difference between how managers use traditional data and big data is negligible when forecasts are moving in a positive direction. It seems that there is less hesitation on the part of managers when dealing with positive trends and that the reluctance to use big data fades.
The difference with experience
Additional analyses show that the more experience a manager has, (in terms of age and management experience) the more heavily they rely on the forecasting received from big data.
The results of this study contribute to an understanding of how information collected through big data is being utilized for managerial forecasting purposes. Indeed, management accountants need to be aware of how analytical tools are perceived by managers and used in decision-making.
The study, “Advice Utilization from Predictive Analytics Tools: The Trend is your Friend” was conducted by researchers Dennis Fehrenbacher (St. Gallen University/Monash University), Alessandro Ghio (Laval University) and Michael Weisner (University of Melbourne) and can be found at the European Accounting Review (forthcoming) here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09638180.2022.2138934