ESI International's 2015 Business Analysis Trends: Tips For Staying Ahead

A number of themes stood out in ESI’s Top 10 Business Analysis Trends for 2015, a report prepared annually by ESI executives & subject matter experts.

This post discusses the BA trends in the ESI report in the form of “themes” and suggests ways Business Analysts can prepare themselves to take up the evolving BA role in 2015 and beyond.

Business Analysts and Technology

1. Cloud Computing

According to the report, the wide-scale availabaility and hype associated with cloud solutions underscores the need for BAs to understand how to meet business requirements with cloud solutions while bearing their limitations in mind. Though cloud-based solutions are widely marketed as cost-effective and low maintenance, BAs must understand the limitations that come with these solutions and be able to advise the business as the need arises. 

Key Takeaway – BAs should understand cloud technologies and the culture of the organization concerned when recommending solutions. They should also be prepared to educate stakeholders on the limitations of cloud technology, identify how associated risks can be mitigated for the organization while managing stakeholder expectations in light of these constraints.

2. Predictive Analytics

Much has been said about big data and the need for business analysts to support the business in deriving actionable insights from the masses of business data, which are increasing at a fast pace (See Big Data & The Business Analyst).

According to the ESI report, Big data has become, “a core function” in every organization. The report emphasizes that the role of BAs will go beyond data mining and predictions to descriptive and decision modelling.

Key Takeaway: With the growth of big data, BAs will be expected to play a strategic role in how data can be exploited to generate superior business insight.

BAs should continually position themselves to build core competencies in this discipline.

Business Analysts & Associated Disciplines

3. BAs & Enterprise Analysis

Enterprise Analysis is predicted to take up a bigger role this year. According to the report, increasing market volatility means that businesses will need to select projects that deliver the most benefits. Enterprise Analysis will pave the way to creating an increasing connection between business strategy and its execution.

Key Takeaway: Business Analysts have a key role to play in identifying feasible enterprise projects. This further places emphasis on the need for the BA to identify projects that meet the business need and participate actively till the final implementation.

4. BAs & Change Management

Projects are about change. BAs work on project teams. The report emphasizes that BAs must understand how project outcomes translate to behavioural changes and how organizational changes can facilitate project success. BAs must understand and value change management in order to preserve the link between strategy and execution.

Key Takeaway: BAs must be ready to prepare the business for any upcoming change so that it is better placed to experience the benefits of implemented projects.

The Evolving Business Analyst Role

5. The Strategic BA

Project ideas often arise from portfolio discussions in boardrooms, resulting in situations where project selection processes lose touch with market dynamics. In such instances, projects pay the price. Business Analysts will therefore be key to the strategic validation of project ideas.

Key Takeaway: BAs should prepare themselves for the opportunity to take up strategic roles in enterprises by helping to align business objectives with project outcomes.

6. The Hybrid BA

With most industries facing rapid change, methods that allow for quick developments and learning will become more critical. Industries will also be looking to develop technologies and solutions in close collaboration with customers. As most projects are faced with this pressure, Agile will creep into traditional (waterfall) organizations, creating hybrid environments for Business Analysts (See Waterfall to Agile: The Role of BAs in Agile Projects).

Key Takeaway: BAs should prepare to work in both traditional and agile environments. Continuous learning, coaching and flexibility will be needed to achieve this.

For more on this, read the full report here.

Picture Attribution: “Prediction Sign Shows Estimate Forecast Or Projection” by Stuart Miles/