Tax’s Appetite for Data Continues to Grow

  • March 12, 2015

I attended two conferences recently centered on cloud-related technology improvements. Strata + Hadoop World, which takes place in Silicon Valley, covers the latest developments and concepts related to big data and data science. Five years ago, the conference drew roughly 500 attendees. This year, it attracted more than 5,500 people, including some of the world’s leading cloud thinkers and some of the world’s biggest leaders. (In a keynote, President Obama discussed the rising importance of big data and data science and also introduced Dr. DJ Patil as the country’s first Chief Data Scientist and Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy.)

The Strata event made it clear that corporations are no longer asking if they should move to the cloud, but when and how they should move to the cloud. For me, it was exciting to see that the technologies have finally caught up with the needs of corporate tax professionals, who want fast access to large stores of data from around the corporation, and insight into that data.

Tax may have the biggest data appetite in the company: it needs data from ERP systems, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, human resources, treasury, sales and distribution, procurement and dozens of other areas and systems. By using big data and cloud technologies, the collection of that data, harmonization, and enrichment of data for tax purposes becomes faster, easier and more powerful. As an added benefit, the big data technologies allow full drill down capabilities from summarized financial data to the lowest level of transaction detail used to build those summaries.
I also attended the TDWI World Conference in Las Vegas, run by The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) that largely focused on planning and analytics. Presentations examined the concepts of storytelling and data visualization as a way to help business professionals throughout the organization gain more insight from their data – quicker and more effectively than they receive from canned reports. Overall data-reporting capabilities have advanced to allow daily updates as financial systems are refreshed. This is also good news for data-hungry tax professionals, who now have enticing opportunities to plan throughout the month rather than waiting until the end of the month to finally see numbers.

As tax’s appetite for data grows, new technology – cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications – look like an appealing way to satisfy its hunger.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.

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