Big data in China – opportunities and challenges for accountants

I was in Shanghai last week to launch our research report on big data in Chinese businesses. As I blogged about in June, we have been working in partnership this year with the Shanghai National Accounting Institute (SNAI) and technology company Inspur on a research project into big data in Chinese businesses, and the implications for accountants.

The report highlights four main themes:

  • The particular conditions that make China a potential leader in data technologies – notably the size and scale of China, alongside rapid adoption of mobile payment systems
  • Some of the innovative ways that Chinese businesses are using big data – ranging from new business models and direct monetisation of data to precision marketing and operations
  • The practical challenges and organisational resources that businesses need to succeed with big data investments – in particular issues around data governance, culture and working out what to do with all that data
  • How accountants can do more with big data, if they have the right skills – this was grounded in a combination of IT literacy and good business understanding

I presented the key findings at the annual SNAI forum, which focused this year on big data and innovation in management accounting, with around 1000 people in attendance and many more streaming the event online. A couple of pictures of my presentation are below.


While in China, ICAEW’s Executive Director Technical Robert Hodgkinson and I had a week of presentations and events to talk more broadly about the profession and our ‘ABCD’ of transformational trends – AI, blockchain, cyber and data. There was a lot of interest in AI in particular, and the impact on jobs, so, it was a great opportunity to share our work and thinking in this area with senior figures in the profession in China as well as top university students.

The final stage of this project will be in London in late January/early February, when we will have a series of events based around the themes of the report. We will be joined by senior figures from SNAI, Inspur and Tencent to share more of their experience from China.