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Where have all the Business analysts gone?

  • If there is anyone who should know what an enterprise system - like billing - should do, it would be a Business Analyst.

    I was having a chat the other day with a management consultant about enterprise applications, and the topic of business analysts came up. We came to the conclusion that there are plenty of business analysts, but they are (to quote Dr. John) in the "wrong place at the right time"...

    Let's start with the "right time"... I firmly believe this is the golden age for business analysis. Companies (especially in Telco) are realizing that their business is maturing - meaning lower margins and a commoditization of even their "sexiest" product lines. The natural reaction is to concentrate on HOW they sell as opposed to WHAT they sell. In other words - concentrate on Business Strategy. And how doe you implement a differentiating Business Strategy? You come up with new Business Models, that in turn drive new Business Processes, which - ultimately - break down into new Business Services.... And up pops the need for excellent Business Analysis!

    In the old days - when vendors sold packages that concentrated solely on best practice (in other words a strategy based not on differentiation but on grabbing market share ) Business Analysts were in the "right place" - under the employ of those vendors of "best practice" business models. But, now that "best practice" is in having a differentiated business model not implementing a vendor's idea of what this model should be (in other words (not one based on someone else?s) - the Business Analysts are in the "wrong place".

    And they are doing the "wrong thing": they have become experts in packages, what these packages can do, what these packages can't do, and how to ingeniously configure and integrate them. The Business Analysts of the era before packaged software, that really knew their business, have been absorbed by the complexities of getting packages, designed to implement one business model, to shoe horn into a completely different one: one now driven by differentiation. To be harsh ? these analysts are actually spending most of their time convincing the business how to compromise and not get what they really want; on how to live with outdated best practice.

    What a waste of talent. These "folks" have a lot more to offer than being product experts. Happily - a new generation of software is upon us - such as Service Delivery Platforms, Enterprise Service Bus and service based Enterprise Applications that are all about differentiation. Analysts can go back to what they are good at = analysis = figuring out how to implement business strategy with the help of IT.

    This is new golden age for Business Analysts. Who employs them does not really matter - companies, vendors or integrators. All places will be the "right place". It is time we put them in the position to do the right thing.
    Douglas Zone
    About Douglas Zone Douglas Zone works as Special Projects at Cable & Wireless
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  • Alexander Boykov
    Alexander Boykov In our company we have two types of Analysts. First of all it is Business Analyst. In some cases it is necessary to collect requirements about some module like as Inventory, Asset Management and etc. In some cases it is necessary to understand business pr...  more
    April 9, 2009
  • Cheryl A. London
    Cheryl A. London Most of the business analysts that I've interfaced with are new graduates with a computer science background. This position seems breft of more experienced folks (i.e. more than 10 years industry experience). I'm not clear as to whether these positions pa...  more
    April 10, 2009
  • Barbara Lancaster
    Barbara Lancaster What is clear from all of these comments is that the term Business Analyst has been hi-jacked. The term originally applied (and should continue to apply) to a subject matter expert in the business in question - just as Neil described. That broad and deep ...  more
    April 11, 2009
  • Puneet Ranka
    Puneet Ranka Nice Article... How do you think 'right' BAs can be put in 'right' positions?
    April 4, 2009