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New CFO challenges push firms to harness big data

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Stricter government regulations are forcing CFOs to better manage the massive amounts of information their firms gather, according to experts.

In particular, complying with Dodd-Frank reforms and Basel regulatory standards is a challenge for financial services companies, and solvency rules and the implementation of Obamacare have been a challenge for insurers, according to Glenn Finch, IBM's global leader of big data transformational services.

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IBM surveyed 576 CFOs across the globe and found that the office of the CFO, not the CIO, is the one that could actually be using big data the most, particularly since data can be used to help contain costs, develop forecasts and manage risk.

"We found a pretty significant shift in the office of the CFO. They saw a 205 percent increase in their work on just integrating data across the enterprise," Finch said.

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But many CFOs still aren't sure that they're doing as much as they can with the data they have, and adjusting to new, stricter government regulations poses a new and potentially bigger challenge, according to IBM.

"They use enterprise resource planning systems and analytical tools for about a third of their work. The rest of the time they rely on spreadsheets or old-fashioned intuition," IBM said in a recent report.