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Author: Esther Folorunso

Esther Oluwabusayo Folorunso, MBA, CBAP Esther Oluwabusayo Folorunso is an experienced and certified business analyst currently working in the Higher Education Industry. She holds a Bachelors degree in Entrepreneurship/Business Management from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria and an MBA in Management Information Systems from Fort Hays State University, Kansas, USA. She presently serves on the Board of the IIBA Tampa Bay Florida Chapter and is a speaker on everything business analysis and Change. You can check her out on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/esther-folorunso

Business Analysis: How and Why Do I Need To Evolve?

Without a doubt, artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay and is not going anywhere. Still, it would and has even started disrupting the status quo of many industries and organizations. Well, this is an undisputable, crucial innovation. Still, I would gladly refute Elon Musk’s’ claim that “We will have for the first time something smarter than the smartest human. It’s hard to say exactly what that moment is, but there will come a point where no job is needed” (Marr,2023).

The human factor must be considered in every career path or industry; however, professionals in every space and sphere must evolve with the dynamic and changing environment.

Why do we need to evolve?

Regarding my specialization as a Business Analyst, how and why do I need to evolve?

Recently, there has been a surge in the search for business analysts. This is not because this is a new field; instead, it has existed since the Middle of the Old Stone Age, when the ancestors were able to effectively adapt to the changing natural environment, identify their needs, problems, and opportunities, and develop solutions to make their abode livable and habitable.

 

What is Business Analysis?

According to the BABOK Guide V3, Business analysis enables change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis enables an enterprise to articulate needs and the rationale for change and design and describe solutions that deliver value.

The business analysis field has undergone several nomenclature changes and could be referred to by different names in different industries. Some famous names include Business systems analysis, business process analysis, functional analysis, product ownership, systems architecture, project management, usability analysis, user experience consulting, operations assessment, and technical writing.

 

Business Analysis Requirements

The BABOK Guide v3 views requirements as a usable representation of a need and a design as the usable requirement of a solution. Still, both concepts can be used interchangeably and primarily depend on the context of being used or adopted. Requirements need to be identified, collected, modeled, analyzed, validated, verified, traced, prioritized, managed, and maintained in the lifecycle of a project (Pre and post-project stages). Still, they are all related to a business problem that requires a solution. It could be in the form of an organizational objective that must be met, a business process that needs to be optimized, and an existing solution that needs to be improved or even retired. The BABOK guide v3 defines a Context as the circumstances that influence or are influenced and provide an understanding of a required change. This explains that requirements are broad and depend on the context, such as industry, regulation, project, weather, attitudes, behaviors, etc.

 

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Unpacking BA requirements for Artificial Intelligence

Business analysts should not view themselves as AI experts but understand that they exist to drive change while still understanding the capabilities that AI provides and its complexities. Business analysts must see themselves as a bridge between business needs and AI capabilities.

Understanding the complexities of AI algorithms may and may not be a hard nut to crack; however, with a fundamental understanding of Natural language processing/ machine learning and knowing that most AI tools have been embedded with the critical technology to understand human language, as well as the ability to sieve through large data sets and establish a pattern or relationships, could serve as helpful information. Business Analysis could also establish broader knowledge of AI capabilities.

Also, the core of business analysis is need identification and solution generation. Both are valuable, but the most critical is correctly and efficiently identifying existing needs or problems, thus providing room for developing requirements and generating solutions.

This brings us to the question: can AI help in need identification or problem assessment? Realistically, with established data and available documentation, AI could help identify a need, but Hey, that need would be missing users’ humanity. Whatever solution is generated should provide or enhance satisfaction. However, can AI understand the complexity of the human emotion? With AI, we could develop the goals, desired outcomes, and key performance indicators (KPIs) and define roles and responsibilities, but how can usability be assessed?

With AI in business analysis requirements comes data quality, security, and privacy requirements. Every requirement generated for BA activities must answer these 3 data prongs. How reliable is the requirement gathered? If a requirement is trustworthy, it could speak to its quality. Was the requirement confirmed, verified by necessary stakeholders, and validated to align with identified needs?

To achieve these three tasks, the requirements must be specified and modeled to fit the organization’s environment with due consideration of the stakeholders involved. The modeling can be in the form of matrices or even diagrams, for which AI could be beneficial. Still, the prompts must be correct, which reflects the data quality and reliability. Using AI to generate, specify, or even model requirements (inexhaustive) would lead to data security and privacy prongs.

Privacy and security are critical issues in the professional world, not just business analysis. Before every BA task, how AI should be adopted and what data should be provided as AI prompts need to be addressed. There is a need to protect user privacy and define adequate security measures, as IT systems are susceptible to attacks. Privately owned AI tools can still be attacked; strict security and privacy rules must be strictly followed.

This is also very important as some requirements can serve as Unique selling points for a specific business or even a trade secret. In this situation, the use of AI might be optional.

 

Conclusion

Knowing that the Business analysis role will continue to evolve as a context evolves or dictates or even as a business dictates while putting Artificial intelligence as an addition in a context, it is recommended that the requirements generated in previous contexts be adequately managed and maintained for reuse. When done correctly, this would enhance knowledge sharing as AI could help create a central repository for past project requirements, thus making it easier for business analysts to learn from past experiences and build on existing knowledge, which could lead to overall project success.