Interactive Visualization of Big Data in the Field of Accounting: A Survey of Current Practice and Potential Barriers for Adoption

Lisa Perkhofer, Peter Hofer, Conny Walchshofer, Thomas Plank, Hans-Christian Jetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Big Data introduces high amounts and new forms of structured, unstructured and semi-structured data into the field of accounting and this requires alternative data management and reporting methods. Generating insights from these new data sources highlight the need for different and interactive forms of visualization in the field of visual analytics. Nonetheless, a considerable gap between the recommendations in research and the current usage in practice is evident. In order to understand and overcome this gap, a detailed analysis of the status quo as well as the identification of potential barriers for adoption is vital. The paper aims to discuss this issue. Design/methodology/approach: A survey with 145 business accountants from Austrian companies from a wide array of business sectors and all hierarchy levels has been conducted. The survey is targeted toward the purpose of this study: identifying barriers, clustered as human-related and technological-related, as well as investigating current practice with respect to interactive visualization use for Big Data. Findings: The lack of knowledge and experience regarding new visualization types and interaction techniques and the sole focus on Microsoft Excel as a visualization tool can be identified as the main barriers, while the use of multiple data sources and the gradual implementation of further software tools determine the first drivers of adoption. Research limitations/implications: Due to the data collection with a standardized survey, there was no possibility of dealing with participants individually, which could lead to a misinterpretation of the given answers. Further, the sample population is Austrian, which might cause issues in terms of generalizing results to other geographical or cultural heritages. Practical implications: The study shows that those knowledgeable and familiar with interactive Big Data visualizations indicate high perceived ease of use. It is, therefore, necessary to offer sufficient training as well as user-centered visualizations and technological support to further increase usage within the accounting profession. Originality/value: A lot of research has been dedicated to the introduction of novel forms of interactive visualizations. However, little focus has been laid on the impact of these new tools for Big Data from a practitioner’s perspective and their needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-525
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2019


  • interactive visualization
  • big data visualization
  • big data
  • visual analytics
  • financial reporting
  • Interactive visualization
  • Financial reporting
  • Visual analytics
  • Big data
  • Big data visualization


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