Understanding the consequences of data-driven insights: a study of Future Fit in Finance & Control (FFFC) in Equinor
About the project
GOAL OF THE RESEARCH PROJECT
The goal of the project on data-driven insights is to study the consequences of a data-driven approach on organizational decision-making processes and management control.
In doing so, the project aims to generate and disseminate research-based knowledge that helps businesses and public organizations to improve their decision-making and management control processes in a digital age.
A data-driven approach, with all its features, will be studied from a holistic perspective, centering on strategic, managerial, and decision-making issues. We will strive for a high level of collaboration with industry and affiliated research institutions.
One key objective is to create an arena where young academics, post docs, and Ph.D. students can grow and build their academic carrier.
RESEARCH TOPIC AND RELEVANCE
The research project will focus on the Future Fit in Finance & Control (FFFC) to study the impact of a data-driven approach on organizational decision-making processes and management control.
Specifically, the research project will use two core initiatives within FFFC as focal points of the study, namely the NextGen ERP initiative and the Data-driven Analytics and Planning initiative. We focus on these two initiatives, as they jointly constitute the digital engines that is aimed to transform the finance and control function. By enabling real-time access to a diverse set of data, it sets to drive data-driven insights and ensuring financial control in automated ways.
The relevance of this project relates to the new ways organizations now are working to mobilize big data in order to drive commercial insights and enable value creation. There is still very little research on use of big data and business intelligence aimed at creating data-driven insights, and the concurrent consequences of such organizational changes. Some theoretical studies praise these new technologies while other studies question the quality of the decisions made on this type of information.
A question that is asked is if the quest for establishing digital rules and routines for accounting and control rather reduce the value and quality of information and reliance of accounting numbers. When placing the digital revolution into the historical and cultural context that have intertwined with the evolution of accounting as a practice involved in the production of reliable and useful information, the effects are admittedly unclear.
In this project, we will focus on the process of information production in a data-driven context. What are the organizational consequences in setting up a data-driven organization? How are individual decision-makers influenced when faced with persuasive, data-driven insights? What happens to group discussions and reflection on financial and non-financial information in this context? Are decisions that go against data-driven insights even a real option, if not based on an equally data-based foundation?
Assumptions are often based on numerous objective and subjective factors, and deep hidden nonobservable knowledge and experience from managers and decision-makers. For management control purposes, what are the consequences for managing performance and monitoring financial development?
What does this mean for internal control? Will we witness any de-skilling among professional groups? What are the consequences on key stakeholders? These are only some of the questions that arise in the context of organizational dependence on data-driven insights, which are likely to become relevant for a full range of private and public organizations in the coming years.
PROJECT DETAILS: HOW WILL WE PROGRESS?
In approaching this project, we aim to structure the project in three phases: a) Describing the current state, b) studying the process of the FFFC program towards its finalization in 2025, and c) evaluating the consequences of the new state after the completion of the FFFC program. The research project will primarily draw on qualitative research methods, such as ethnography and interviews. An ethnographic approach is adequate, as a central member of the research team is employed in Equinor on a fixed termcontract until July 2023. Moreover, the research project is encouraged by Vice President (VP) in Finance & Control in Equinor, Mette Ferkingstad, as well as Chief Analyst in Finance & Control, Stig Skoglund. Mr. Skoglund is also heading up the NextGen ERP project, which is a part of FFFC.