Companies can use data privacy to differentiate themselves and create a competitive advantage, says Carolyn Holcomb, CPA, leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers' U.S. practice for data protection and privacy. Holcomb co-authored a report on data privacy that concludes that companies can build trust with consumers by providing information on how their data are used. She offers five steps for companies to begin treating data as an asset: taking inventory of data, understanding data's life cycle, choosing a privacy framework, monitoring and reassessing policies and getting the board involved.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants has updated its Professional Qualification Syllabus to ensure that Chartered Global Management Accountant designation holders have accounting, finance, business and leadership skills required by businesses worldwide. As of 2015, AICPA members who are candidates for the CGMA designation will be required to pass an exam based on the CIMA syllabus, as well as fulfill practical experience requirements. New topic areas include managing Big Data, finance-function transformation and shared services.
Unstructured data, such as social media posts, media interviews and plain text in the Management's Discussion and Analysis sections of Forms 10-Q and 10-K, are increasingly important to companies as they use the information to make all kinds of decisions. This represents a problem for financial-reporting methodology, which is designed for structured data. Some chief financial officers are learning to incorporate unstructured data into traditional accounting and finance. Learn more about Big Data in the CGMA report "From Insight to Impact -- Unlocking Opportunities in Big Data."
Jack Ciesielski, publisher of The Analyst's Accounting Observer newsletter, has a new way to measure a company's profitability: COROA, for cash operating return on assets. It is designed to measure the ability of management to generate cash returns on investment.