As of next year, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) will be implementing changes to the CMA exam to make it more relevant to the current job market. Whether you’re planning on taking the exam this year, will split sections between both years, or are planning on taking both sections next year, you’ll want to know about the new Technology and Analytics section of the CMA exam, both to help you pass and to put you in a good position for your future as a CMA.

Why is the CMA Exam Changing?

Like most exam changes, the new Technology and Analytics section of the CMA Exam is being added to ensure the exam remains relevant to the current business environment. In early 2018, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) sent out a job analysis survey to professionals in the finance and accounting fields. From their over 2,000 responses, they concluded that the accounting and finance professions have a much greater emphasis on data analytics, technology, and artificial intelligence than they have in the past. Due to the changing nature of the profession, IMA revised the content specification outline to include a greater emphasis on technology.

Why are Technology and Data Analytics so Important?

It’s no secret that big data has become a bigger component within the career of finance and accounting professionals. Implementing or enhancing analytical skills and processes within an organization are key, not only to success, but survival. However, according to a report released by IMA, most organizations are still in the process of implementing their desired analytics technologies and adopting cutting-edge techniques is especially difficult for organizations.

Despite the challenges, the report finds that companies that implement efficient, leading-edge data analysis technologies see related performance improvements and find substantial benefits within strategy formulation and implementation. Overall, the report concludes that implementing data analytics within an organization can significantly improve the success of the company.

Data analytics does this by allowing companies to take a deep dive into their markets, their competitors, and their products and services. Below are a few ways data analysis can help companies to sustain and grow within their environments:

  • Analyze operations to see where deficiencies lie and improvements can be made
  • Improve business intelligence within and outside the organization
  • Use predictive analytics to hone strategies to reach target markets and customers more effectively
  • Use data mining and data sets to see if and where competitors have an advantage and create strategies to match or exceed these differences
  • Use internal data sources to ensure operations are functioning within a secure environment
  • Generally, review and fix deficiencies within the organization and improve decision making

These are all big-picture areas within the organization where big data can improve the outcome of big business decisions. Data analytics are no joke, and being able to work with, interpret, and strategize around data are key ingredients to being valuable in the finance and accounting fields.

So what does this mean for you?

As a CMA candidate, you need to be prepared to jump into these important roles within an organization. You also need to be prepared to help organizations build their analytical systems and consider your role within data science. According to the report released by IMA, around 23% of the companies surveyed had just started implementation, while over 50% said they’re still working on implementing their systems.

The changes to the CMA exam regarding technology and data analytics will help you become even more valuable as a future CMA. You’ll be able to jump into roles as a data analyst, data scientist, or in general work with data to help companies improve their future. Overall, having a solid understanding of data analytics and any new technology relevant to the finance and accounting fields will put you head and shoulders above the competition and prove your worth as a CMA.

When is the CMA Exam changing?

The exam changes to both Part 1 and Part 2 of the exam will go into effect in January of 2020.

What Can You Expect on the CMA Exam?

There will still be two parts to the CMA exam, and the new technology and data analytics content will be on Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics. There will continue to be 100 multiple choice questions and two essays per part. However, the “Technology and Analytics” content will now make up 15% of Part 1. The focus on Part 1 will be on external financial reporting decisions, planning, budgeting and forecasting, performance and cost management, and internal controls; technology and data analytics will be built into these focus areas.

If you have taken one part of the exam or plan to take one part of the exam in 2019, your score will still be relevant and count toward your CMA. You will not have to take both parts in either 2019 or 2020 for it to count. However, if you’ve already begun studying for Part 1, it’s a good idea to sit before the end of the year (and remember that the testing window closes October 31 for this year!).

If it seems like you’ll have to take one part this year and one part next year or both parts next year, we’ve got you covered. Surgent’s CMA prep course includes free, automatic updates to content so you always have what you need to study for the exam you’re going to take. Plus, as a strategic partner of IMA, Surgent offers a discount on Ultimate Pass, the CMA program entrance fee, and the CMA exam fee. Learn more about how you can save $700!