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Data Analytics Community – 2023 in review

Author: Ian Pay

Published: 03 Jan 2024

It's been another remarkable year for the ICAEW's Data Analytics Community. Our Head of Data Analytics and Tech, Ian Pay, reflects on some of his highlights as well as the challenge of making 2024 even bigger and better.

A year of firsts

I'm understandably delighted that the Data Analytics Community remains ICAEW's largest community. During 2023 we became the first community to pass the 30,000 members mark and we're now over 35,000, a testament to the importance of data analytics in the modern world of accounting and finance. This means we have a hugely diverse membership and an appetite for an incredible range of topics and content – more on this below.

Another milestone for the community this year was our first in-person event – Analytics Live. It was really fantastic to have just shy of 200 people come to Chartered Accountants' Hall to explore all things data back in June. If you weren't able to make it, or just need a reminder of the key discussion points, we rounded them up in this summary. And the feedback we received from attendees was so strong that we're planning to do it all again next year!

And right at the end of the year, we held our first joint webinar with The OR Society, our collaboration partners for the Data Analytics Community, exploring the world of low and no-code analytics with Grant Thornton and KNIME. Attendees were thoroughly engaged and you can catch up on the webinar on-demand here and our write-up of the Q&A here. We're looking forward to working with the OR Society more throughout 2024.

Our content

In a year when we've covered themes as broad as data extraction, modelling, the role of the CDO, and ESG there's been no shortage of interesting topics for us to explore. But of course, there is only one place for us to start: AI.

As far back as December 2022 – not long after ChatGPT was released to the world – we were already talking about the potential for the technology to transform the profession, and we took this further when we questioned whether AI would mean the end of the accountancy entirely. We also delivered our third AI explainer on the LLM-relevant topic of deep learning, but by the autumn were already wondering if the focus of the accounting world had moved on to the next big thing.

Away from AI, one of our most popular articles this year was our practical guide to using the Companies House API – a handy follow-on from our API 101 webinar at the start of the year. In partnership with the Excel Community, we've also been running a very successful series on Microsoft's "Power Tools", covering Power Query, Power BI and Power Automate so far with more to follow in 2024. Indeed, our Power BI webinar, hosted by current Advisory Group chair Monica Odysseos (who is providing cover in the role for Franki Hackett while she's on maternity leave – congratulations Franki!), and the Power Query webinar hosted by Simon Hurst from the Excel Community, were amongst the highest performing webinars across the whole institute in 2023. We're looking forward to completing the set with webinars on Power Apps and Power Pivot in 2024 – look out for more details on these soon.

Don't forget – you can find all of our previous articles and on-demand webinars on our website.

2024 – where next?

Much of the chatter in 2023 has been focused on AI, but in 2024 there is a sense that we'll start to see some really tangible use cases emerging, and we can't wait to talk about them more throughout 2024. Indeed, our bigger and better Analytics Live 2024 event, focusing on Data and AI, will look to explore real-world examples. Keep your eyes peeled for more details soon but you may want to save 15 October in your diaries!

Alongside this, we'll be focusing heavily on the ever-increasing convergence of ESG and technology throughout 2024, and the role that data analytics can play in supporting organisations on their ESG journey. Data skills will also be ever-present, and we'll continue to explore the more strategic side of data too. We've already got some great webinars in the pipeline, including our rescheduled webinar on Microsoft Fabric – look out for the newsletters or on our upcoming webinars page.

Could 2024 be the year that we break the 40,000 members mark? We can, but it'll need your help! Remember that signing up to the community, our articles and on-demand webinars are all totally free for ICAEW members and non-members alike so please do share your favourite content on social media and encourage your friends and colleagues to join here. And of course, we're always open to ideas and contributions from the community – if you've got something you'd like to talk about, or would like us to talk about, do get in touch with me at ian.pay@icaew.com.