In this episode, Elizabeth Larson talks about current trends in the Business Analysis field and how they will affect you.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • What key trends are affecting the business analysis field
  • The big news about the BA role in Agile
  • How to stay current and be seen as a Trusted Advisor

Show Notes

Change is the only constant.  To keep up with today’s fast changing environment, we need to keep abreast of current trends and understand how we need to adapt.

Our role has always been to be management consultants and trusted advisors.  We define the real business problem and make recommendations to achieve the business goal.

With some of the current trends in our industry, Business Analysts will need to use the skills and competencies that we’ve developed, but in a new way.


Trend 1: The Digital BA

What is the role of the Business Analyst in a digital transformation?  Is a BA still needed?

To adapt to the trend of digital transformations, our role becomes one of helping organizations introduce cognitive technologies.  This includes machine learning and artificial intelligence.

There are a lot of issues related to the adoption of these technologies and a BA can advise the organization and help them make the right decisions.  Questions to ask about adopting cognitive technologies include:

  • Are we getting the right data?
  • What is the data source?
  • How do we interpret the data?
  • What are we doing with the data (from an ethics standpoint)?
  • Does the way we use data change for different cultures or across borders?

Business Analysts can help organizational leaders understand the impacts, dependencies, and issues relating to data and cognitive technologies.  We need to understand the problem the organization is trying to solve and the capabilities of the organization to adopt these technologies.

This leads to advising on overall organizational strategy and future initiatives based on new capabilities.


Trend 2: DevOps

DevOps helps organizations adapt to faster delivery of small changes while mitigating risk to the production environment.  It requires a different way of working and the adoption of new tool sets.

Business Analysts can help with DevOps adoption by advising on the tool chain strategy.  We can also help by breaking down organizational silos so that technology and operations teams can communicate more effectively.

To do this, we need to step outside of the project box and see the entire value stream to make sure the organization is taking advantage of the new tools and DevOps approach.


Trend 3: Certifications in the Gig Economy

Many people are turning to short consulting stints instead of long term employment.  This trend will continue to grow.  With the emergence of the gig economy, are certifications still relevant and how do we need to shift our skills to be more marketable?

If you’re going out on your own into the gig economy, certifications will give you a leg up.  They help provide the assurance to hiring companies of a consistent approach.

But not all certifications are equal.  The trick is to choose relevant certifications.

Additionally, expanding your skills and knowledge to become a Full-Stack Business Analyst makes you in high demand and opens more opportunities.


Trend 4: Agile Business Cases

Organizations often make the mistake of entirely stopping business cases when they transition to Agile.  The decisions that come about from a business case are still needed, just in a different form.

Regardless of the project approach, we still need to answer some basic questions such as “How bad is the problem and is it worth solving?”  We can do that analysis formally or informally and it leads to advising the organization to make the right decisions.

While we need the information in the business case to make the right decisions, we don’t want to take a long time to do it.  Instead, build the business case incrementally on smaller pieces and at the right time.


Trent 5: The Agile Business Analyst

Many organizations have shifted away from having Business Analysts on Agile teams.  However, a recent trend is to bring BAs back into Agile teams and use their skills in a new way.

There has been a recognition of the value that a Business Analyst can bring to an organization adopting Agile practices.  The practitioners might not be called Business Analysts, but the BA skills are critical to success.

The type of work will shift depending on the time horizon of the work and a mindset shift is needed for BAs to adapt to an Agile way of working.


Keeping up with these and other trends will allow you to understand how you can shift your skills and continue providing value as a Trusted Advisor.

Listen to the full episode to understand trends in the business analysis field and what you can do to adapt and thrive.



Your Homework

To be a Trusted Advisor, you need to be knowledgeable about industry trends.  Invest some time reading and learning about these trends so that you stay informed and can use the information to advise your organization.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Elizabeth Larson

Elizabeth Larson

CEO of Watermark Learning

Elizabeth is the CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in business analysis, project management, and influencing skills. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes keynotes and presentations on five continents. Elizabeth has co-authored four books, including the acclaimed CBAP Certification Study Guide and has been cited in CIO Magazine and PM Network, PMI’s monthly publication.

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