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Author: Rovena Bytyci

Why is Data so Important for Leaders?

The rise of digitisation has had a huge impact upon all industries and organisations and big data is at the forefront of this digital transformation.

Organisations and their leaders now have access to valuable insights into their business, customers, competitors and marketplace, allowing them to make strategic, data-driven business decisions. But why is data so important for leaders and how can it transform their role in an organisation?

‘As data and analytics become pervasive, the ability to communicate in this language, to become data literate, is the new organisational readiness factor’ Carlie J.Idione – Gartner Research

Streamlining the customer experience

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) are allowing leaders and businesses to automate certain work processes such as customer service. This not only allows for additional resources to be allocated to strategic business decisions, but it collects valuable data and trends from customer feedback that in turn improves the customer experience. Whilst most organisations will already have a strong idea of their target audience and demographic, it’s important not to stand still and constantly develop innovative products and services for the ‘new wave’ of consumers. A great example of this is Spotify, who used AI to sort through customer data and highlighted the most unique customer trends around the world, simultaneously humanising consumer data and creating a lucrative global marketing campaign.


Strategic Decision Making

Algorithms and real-time predictive data are enabling leaders to make better-informed decisions. These decisions are made on a basis of tangible data and trends resulting in less guesswork and increased accuracy. Predicting future industry trends can put an organisation ahead of the curve, spotting potentially lucrative business opportunities before their competitors. By analysing these trends, organisations can create products and services based on consumer need and desire, rather than ‘educated’ guesswork.

Shaping stronger leaders

A successful leader in the digital era should have a strong analytics aptitude and demonstrate logical thinking and verbal and quantitative reasoning. Rather than resting on their laurels they should always be looking for the next business opportunity and data-driven technologies can make this job significantly easier. Rather than being motivated by emerging technologies, strong leaders and analysts should be motivated on solving problems using well analysed data and algorithms. Leading a business through this era of digital transformation takes a unique set of skills, which can be developed through courses such as a Master of Business Administration.

The Future of Business Analysis

We are in an era of rapid technological and digital transformation, and modern businesses are adapting in line with this.

Organisations are now dependent on business analysts and project managers to guide them through this digital disruption and advise on best practice and emerging technologies. Predictive technologies such as machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and The Internet of Things can now provide industry trends and data patterns that have the power to significantly impact a business and its operations.

Digital Transformation

There are several different challenges that come with rapid digital transformation. Ensuring that organisations are readily prepared and have skilled specialists such as data scientists in place is essential. Having the appropriate software tools to analyse, manage and cleanse large amounts of data is key to staying competitive in the current digital climate. Organisations will need to make strategic business decisions that can be used as rules in machine learning and making the wrong decision can be catastrophic. The role of a business analyst in 2019 will become increasingly digital- focused.


Becoming Agile 

Agile is a project management methodology that is defined by the Association of Project Management (APM) as ‘an approach based on delivering requirements iteratively and incrementally throughout the project life cycle. At the core of agile is the requirement to exhibit central values and behaviours of trust, flexibility, empowerment and collaboration.’ As organisations are becoming more and more agile, the demand for business analysts to work on agile projects is set to increase. Adopting agile practice such as facilitating change, clear communication and engagement will be necessary for business analysts to effectively contribute.

What’s next?

According to the 2018 report, ‘The Future of Jobs’, reskilling will be imperative for the future workforce. By 2022, more than half of the working population, 54%, will need significant reskilling and upskilling. A commitment to continual learning and further education is imperative for business analysts that want to remain competitive and progress in their careers. The report also outlined that by 2022, 85% of companies will have adopted user and entity big data analytics, meaning that the role of a business analyst will transform in line with the change.
Increased demand for soft skills such as communication and critical thinking in the industry will become more prevalent. Although the future looks bright for the industry as by 2020, the number of job profiles for all US business analysts is set to increase from 364,000 openings to 2,720,000 as indicated by IBM.

Design Thinking for a Business Analyst

Design thinking is a concept that was first introduced back in the 1960s and has recently gained a lot of traction in the business world.

Adopted by many high-profile FTSE 500 companies such as IBM, Apple and Google to increase innovation and improve products and services, design thinking is becoming a part of everyday operations in organisations across the board.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking refers to the ‘cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed by designers and/or design teams. Many of the key concepts and aspects of design thinking have been identified through studies, across different design domains, of design cognition and design activity in both laboratory and natural contexts.’
Essentially design thinking revolves around gaining a deep understanding of the people that a product or design is being created for. It is widely accepted that there are five different phases of design thinking in no particular order;

  • Empathise with your users
  • Define users needs, desires, problems and your insights
  • Ideate by challenging common assumptions and creating innovative solutions
  • Prototype and start creating effective solutions
  • Test your solutions


What does this mean for BAs?

The very nature of a business analyst role is analytical, and this is unlikely to change, especially in an era of rapid digital transformation. However, this doesn’t mean that certain concepts of design thinking can’t be applied in practice to the role of a Business Analyst. Design thinking is in essence just another form of business analysis and many BAs will have used design thinking concepts in projects before. Perhaps the most common areas that business analysts can apply design thinking are scope definition, requirements elicitation and analysis and validation of decisions. The depth and length of the process will largely be depending on the scale and complexity of individual projects, and as organisations are becoming increasingly agile, so to will the concepts that business analysts are required to use.

Embracing design thinking

For business analysts embracing design thinking can allow them to become more analytical, user-centric and effective. By applying the skills and techniques developed as a BA and undertaking further education, this can also accelerate growth and career trajectory. Approaching a project with a purely business or analytical mindset will no longer be enough – for a Business Analyst, this could mean developing elicitation techniques, rhetoric skills, facilitation, and influence for a more effective project outcome.