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What’s Next: The Future of Business Analysis in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, professionals across industries are witnessing the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Business analyst profession is not untouched and is on the brink of a significant shift in its roles and responsibilities. As AI technologies continue to advance, they are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of business analysis. In this blog, we’ll deep dive into how AI is set to impact the future of business analyst professionals.

 

The Rise of AI in Business Analysis

 

1. Data-Driven Insights

Business analysts have always been tasked with extracting valuable insights from data to support decision-making. AI, with its machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics, empowers analysts to delve deeper into data. They can now unearth hidden patterns, make more accurate forecasts, and identify trends that might have remained concealed with traditional business analysis methods.

 

2. Enhanced Efficiency

AI-driven automation tools can handle repetitive tasks, such as data collection and cleansing, leaving analysts with more time for critical thinking and strategic analysis. This increased efficiency allows business analysts to focus on high-impact activities, making them indispensable assets to their organizations.

 

 

 

 

  1. Real-time Analytics

AI enables real-time data analysis, providing business analysts with most relevant and current insights. This instant access to reliable and accurate information empowers business analysts to respond swiftly to market changes and emerging trends, enabling more predictable and agile decision-making which is critical for reaching organization’s strategic goals.

 

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  1. The Evolving Role of Business Analysts

As AI becomes more integrated into business operations, the role of business analysts is evolving in several significant ways:

 

  • From Data Analysts to Data Strategists

With AI handling routine data analysis, business analysts are transitioning from mere data collectors to data strategists. They are expected to interpret AI-generated insights and translate them into actionable business strategies.

  • Ethical Considerations and challenges

AI raises ethical concerns, such as bias in algorithms and data privacy issues. The role of Business analyst is to navigate through these ethical challenges and ensure that AI systems are used responsibly and the data they collect and analyze is both accurate and unbiased.

  • Cross-functional Collaboration with different partners

Business analysts are increasingly expected to collaborate with data scientists and AI engineers to develop and implement AI-powered solutions. Effective communication and collaboration between these roles are vital for successful AI integration and forms core of various digitization initiatives.

  • Continuous Learning is the key to success

The rapid evolution of AI requires business analysts to engage in continuous learning and skill development. Staying updated on AI technologies and methodologies is crucial to remain relevant in their roles.

  • The Impact on Job Market

Even though the initial buzzword of AI lead to job insecurities but future seems to be bright. While AI is automating some aspects of business analysis, it is also creating new opportunities. The demand for business analysts who can harness AI and effectively interpret its insights is on the rise. Companies are actively seeking professionals with AI skills to drive innovation and competitive advantage.

 

Conclusion

Industry’s future hinges on how well business analysts use Artificial Intelligence (AI). Business analysts will find themselves at the vanguard of data-driven decision-making as AI technology develops and advances. They will play more strategic and team-oriented roles with an emphasis on utilizing AI to boost corporate success. Business analysts are expected to embrace AI and see it as a potent tool if they want to succeed in this dynamic and fast paced environment. They should invest in their AI-related skills, navigate through ethical challenges, and adjust to the shifting needs of the labor market. By doing so, they will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that Artificial Intelligence presents and remain valuable resources for their organizations in years to come.

Requirements are a Contract

Ensuring that project requirements have been understood and agreed to by all stakeholders is one of the foundations of a Business Analyst’s work.

However, that understanding and agreement from the stakeholders doesn’t always translate to the successful delivery of the project. Even though everyone on the business side has confirmed that the BA understands their wants and needs, those requirements can wind up being misinterpreted (or outright ignored) once they reach the technical team.

No matter how careful the BA has been, things seem to slowly and surely fall apart. It seems to make no difference if the project is using agile, or waterfall, or the requirements are documented in Word, or Excel, or in requirements management software such as IBM DOORS, or SPARX Enterprise Architect, or JIRA, or written on a sticky note. The results are depressingly similar from project to project.

 

Whatever is presented in the demonstration never seems to be what anyone in the business asked for. Which usually becomes the Business Analyst’s problem. Somehow the BA didn’t do enough documentation or missed something.

Over the years, I have realised that no amount of documentation, meetings, or stand-ups will save the BA. That’s because the problem is not with the requirements or the Business Analyst. The problem is with the quality of the technical team.

Before anyone gets upset, no, I am not insulting the technical team. What I’m suggesting is that most projects are a mixed bag of personalities and experience. There might be new junior developers, overworked senior developers juggling multiple projects, people who don’t want to read the documentation, and sometimes, people who outright ignore the requirements because they have determined, “that’s not how the business works.” The project is either over time and out of budget (or both) but even then, can never seem to finish.

No one seems to discuss the impact the technical team has on the requirements themselves and the amount of stress it places on the Business Analyst.

 

Think like a lawyer

What can a BA do to reduce the pressure they’re feeling?

In my opinion, a BA may find it useful to think like a lawyer.

A lawyer researches the parties involved in a contract. What are these parties like? Are they prepared to negotiate, or do they dispute everything? As a BA, you do have one advantage in that you will have communication skills and you can deal with different people and personalities. This allows you to figure out who you may be dealing with. What are they like? How experienced are they? Are there issues within the team? Although you could argue that this is just a RACI matrix – this goes one step beyond. You don’t care if they’re responsible, accountable, consulted or informed. You want to know how likely it is that the project will wind up in a mess. Something the Project Manager is unlikely to acknowledge until it’s too late (depending on the PM’s experience).

 

This changes the focus because not only are you eliciting your requirements from your stakeholders, but in the background, you’re also trying to determine what the technical team is like. The makeup of the technical team is going to help you determine your deliverables.

Alistair Cockburn states in the introduction in Writing Effective Use Cases, “A use case captures a contract between the stakeholders of a system about its behaviour.”

 

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Decide on the type of contract

Keeping with a more legalistic view of requirements, the Business Analyst can then decide if the contract should involve a high degree of ceremony in which requirements are meticulously explained and documented, formally signed off, with meetings scheduled to discuss these requirements in detail. Or whether you can take an approach that is highly collaborative and relies on face-to-face chats between the team and the BA, with light touch documentation (some user stories, and a couple of whiteboard sessions).

In other words, how you construct your contract, will depend on how tightly you need to bind the technical team to that contract. And the type of contract the binds the two parties together will depend on how much you trust that other party. If you trust the other party, and you’ve known them for a while, then a handshake agreement may be all that is needed. A handshake agreement tends more towards an agile approach with some user stories and daily discussions, over and above a standup.

If you have less trust, or the project has a lot riding on it in terms of its budget or the features being delivered, you may decide on the equivalent of a legally binding contract. It may consist of several documents, and the documents are all formally signed off. Like all weighty contracts, you need to write in a manner that removes all ambiguities.

 

Much like a lawyer, your job is to ensure your wording is not open to misinterpretation or provides a way for the technical team to deliver something else entirely.

And if they do, you have your signed off documentation in which you can point to it and politely ask why the clause was ignored – and how they’re going to remedy the problem. Because the requirements are a contract. One that all parties need to adhere to.

Do we understand what Data, Information, and Knowledge are?

“Data is everywhere, but it requires CONTEXT and accessibility to be useful…”

 This compelling statement by Symphony Logic immediately caught my attention. It resonates with my model of “The Intelligence Life Cycle,” whose first axiom, or postulate, is “Data is measured in context”—a notion that I expanded upon with my second axiom, “Information is organized data with a purpose.”

At first glance, it might seem trivial, but currently, there’s significant confusion in the semantics, ontology, and taxonomy of the three terms that form the building blocks of Intelligence.

Data, Information, and Knowledge are often used interchangeably as though they are synonymous, but they’re not. This confusion compromises the quality and analysis of our data.

 

The Delphi study titled “Knowledge Map of Information Science,” conducted between 2003 and 2005 sought to explore the foundational elements of Information Science. 130 definitions of data, information, and knowledge are documented in this study. The international panel consisted of 57 leading scholars from 16 countries, representing (almost) all the major subfields and essential aspects of the field.

Working with 130 different definitions for terms as vital as DATA, INFORMATION, and KNOWLEDGE seems excessive, and rather than providing clarity, it obscures and leads to confusion.

Therefore, I took it upon myself to find or create simple yet accurate definitions for these pivotal terms using an axiomatic approach, similar to the one used by Euclid in his fundamentals of Geometry.

Axiom 1: Data are measured in context.

Axiom 2: Information is organized data with a purpose.

Axiom 3: Knowledge is the discovery of patterns and their relationships.

Axiom 4: Wisdom is the effective use of knowledge. As Professor Drucker put it, effectiveness is doing the right thing, as opposed to efficiency, which is doing things right.

Fortunately, I did not need to introduce a fifth axiom.

 

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I applied these axioms to develop a model that I call The Intelligence Life Cycle, which has helped me identify the limitations of AI and numerous pitfalls in Big Data models and architectures. I presented my theory about the ILC in July 2023 at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida during a presentation titled “The Intelligence Life Cycle and the Limitations of AI” at the SQL Saturday event.

More recently, I also spoke at USF during DevFest to a select audience about the ILC and the Limitations of AI, and I introduced my other model, “The 4 Pillars of Digital Transformation.” Here, I argued that Data is not the new oil nor the first block of importance; instead, it is a third-level block in a hierarchy of importance, preceded by the Cultural and Procedures and Policies Pillars.

You can learn more about The Intelligence Life Cycle and Limitations of AI in my LinkedIn article.

Efficiency and Excellence: The Strategic Advantages of Outsourcing in Web Design and Recruitment

These days the convergence of web design prowess and strategic recruitment methodologies assumes paramount significance. Nowadays, it is of utmost importance that strategic recruitment tactics and design expertise are combined. Understanding outsourcing’s varied applications in the fields of design and recruitment is essential in the current outsourcing structure. In order to highlight its strategic importance, this article provides an in-depth review of outsource web design services.

 

The Significance of Design

A strong digital presence has undeniable relevance in the present company environment. The mindful art of web design has an unbreakable connection to this significance. Such design arranges user engagement, smooth interaction, and the aligning of brand identity without relying solely on surface aesthetics. The design emerges as a crucial tool for capturing and turning transitory digital fingerprints into permanent support in a time when attention spans are known to be short.

Pursuing the Pathway to Design Proficiency

It takes a combination of technical skills, artistic expertise, and programming knowledge to become an expert designer. Prospective designers would be well advised to set out on a planned route that includes the following checkpoints:

 

Foundational mastery. Achieving expertise in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript — the key web development languages.

 

Artistic insight. Immersion in color theory, typographical principles, and layout design strategies.

 

UI/UX proficiency. Gaining knowledge of user interface and user experience concepts to create interfaces with an intuitive design.

 

Tool competence. Familiarization with industry-standard design tools, including Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch.

 

Curation of portfolio. Assembling a strong portfolio with a variety of projects to demonstrate one’s creative ability and technical skill.

 

The Multifaceted Role of a Designer: Confluence of Creativity and Code

A designer’s job goes beyond simple aesthetics in the complex world of digital architecture. It’s a harmonious combination of technical proficiency and creative ingenuity that creates engaging online experiences. The various responsibilities that make up this diverse position are similar to the expertly intertwined tapestry-like threads that produce a work of art that is both useful and beautiful.

 

A skill set serves as both a palette of creative inspiration and a toolbox of expertise within this mosaic of duties. In this case, the combination of creativity and coding produces an interactive ecosystem that appeals to end consumers and captures the spirit of a brand.

 

Each aspect of this position works together to provide a smooth user experience. Every pixel and interaction on a website, from the first glance at the layout to the finer points of color psychology, bear the imprint of a designer’s choices.

 

Indispensable Competencies for Web Designers: Synthesis of Skills

Source: Eftakher Alam. Unsplash

 

The focus is on the dynamic blending of creative originality and technical accuracy. The precise coordination of talents that effortlessly combine into an exclusive and broad skill set is necessary for the profession of creating compelling digital landscapes. These skills act as the foundation upon which the digital world is built, shaping it into an interesting, understandable, and visually appealing space.

 

  • The capability to transcend conventional design paradigms.
  • A commitment to intricacy akin to micro-architecture.
  • Proficiency in navigating the ever-evolving currents of design trends.
  • Effective communication. The ability to interpret client aspirations and articulate design concepts.
  • Problem-solving proficiency. Agility in addressing intricate coding conundrums.

 

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Deciphering Distinctions between Designs

The basis on which digital experiences are built is the interaction of UI/UX design, web design, and graphic design. Exploring these fields’ intricacies reveals a rich mosaic of originality, usability, and visual communication.

 

 

Decoding the Dynamics of Outsourcing

When used in the field of web design, outsourcing—a paradigm inherently linked to maximizing operational efficacy—evolves into a strategic concept. Scalability, increased effectiveness, and the enlargement of creative views all highlight this shift. Outsourcing becomes a virtual hub of specialized knowledge, enabling the acquisition of unrivaled design quality that is not restricted by physical boundaries.

 

Strategic Vistas for Design Outsourcing

Outsourcing web design offers a range of strategic benefits that go beyond the typical cost-efficiency boundaries and drive firms toward increased efficiency, amplified creativity, and the freedom from geographical limitations. The review of outsourcing reveals an expansive field of possibilities where the lines of strategy meet the blank slate of design.

 

  • Incubation of startups. Fueling nascent ventures with superlative designs devoid of exorbitant expenditures.
  • Surge management. Mitigating design inundations, ensuring project continuity and client contentment.
  • Cultural infusion. Infusing designs with cross-cultural nuances to enhance global resonance.
  • Project-based endeavors. Streamlining one-off projects with specialized design interventions.
  • Strategic focus enhancement. Delegating design responsibilities to concentrate on core business competencies.

 

Navigating the Landscape of an Outsourced Web Designer

Outsourced designers now serve as virtual partners and channels for digital manifestations, transcending the limitations of geography. The following is the course of the collaborative work: project briefing as the starting point, then prototypes and wireframes created by the designer. The realization of a design corpus, symbolic of a harmonious combination of vision and competence, results from the iterative feedback loop that follows.

 

Gazing Ahead

In the midst of technology’s unrelenting advance, web design’s direction is ready to change. The position of the designer changes into that of an experienced architect with the integration of AI-driven design tools and immersive technologies like AR and VR. Websites will evolve from being simple digital pages into immersive spaces that blur the line between the physical and digital worlds.

 

Conclusion

Outsourcing has a lasting reputation as a source of innovation and efficiency in modern digital business. The profession of web design propels businesses toward virtual prominence through the fusion of technical skill and artistic talent. The client and outsourced designer’s cooperation takes the form of a dynamic tapestry of ideation, execution, and realization. The possibilities of design and recruiting outsourcing beckon. Here is a field where strategy and creativity come together to create a work of digital triumph.

The Unique Competing Space: A Framework for Evaluating the Competitive Landscape and Strategic Options

The Unique Competing Space (UCS) is a macro-level strategy visualisation framework, which enables teams to understand the broader scope of customer needs, evaluate how well their offerings are meeting customer needs, and evaluate how well their competition is also meeting the needs.

 

The UCS can easily be one of the tools in a firm or team’s arsenal for probing and situating  “…the firm’s strategic position in its greater competitive context”[1].

 

First introduced by George Tovstiga in their book Strategy in Practice: A Practitioner’s Guide to Strategic Thinking. The framework is often presented as a venn diagram consisting of three overlapping individual circles that overlap to provide a view of the firm or team’s competitive space unique to them, the opportunities open to them and the challenges on offer by the competition(s).

 

First each circle.

Figure: Components of the UCS framework

 

Customer needs:

Customers are the reasons any business is in business. They are the stakeholders whom businesses seek to serve and create value for. It is in meeting their stated, or, observed, or perceived needs that businesses indeed create value for these stakeholders, who in turn pay for the goods and or services the business has provided them. When or if satisfied, these stakeholders return to make repeat purchases as their needs may dictate and the business’ bouquet of unique offerings, prices, and customer experience may afford.

 

The firm’s offerings:

These are individual or collective products or services or both, that a business offers to its customers as a way of meeting the customers’ needs.

These offerings are often dictated by the alignment of the firm’s capabilities, enabling regulatory, social and cultural environments, and noted customer needs.

 

The competition’s offering:

Rarely is it the case that there isn’t an alternative or substitute product or service that can meet a customer’s needs other than the one offered by any one firm. This collection of offerings from one or more competing entities servicing the same market or market vertical or segment combines to make up the competitors’ offerings.

 

And now to the Unique Competing Space:

Figure2: The UCS framework

 

The UCS emerges when the customer needs overlap with the firm’s offering and, the competition’s offerings where those exist, are accounted for.

The portion of the Venn diagram where the customers’ needs uniquely overlap with the firm’s offerings is the firm’s UCS.

 

A firm’s strategic objective could be:

  • to defend that space from shrinking – if it is large enough or
  • to grow that space if isn’t large enough and there are potential benefits to the firm for growing the UCS or
  • To exit the UCS completely if it is shrinking and there isn’t any value to the business for defending or growing the space.

 

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Using the UCS:

Figure 3: The UCS framework with conceptual labels

 

To use the UCS, it may be best for teams to gather around a large whiteboard with sticky notes (or an electronic equivalent – think Miro, Mural etc.) and then create the Venn diagram representation of the customers’ needs, the firm’s offerings or capabilities and the competition’s offerings.

 

On the sticky notes write down:

  1. All known customer needs that both the firm and their competitors are not currently meeting: place these on the part of the Customer needs component of the UCS that isn’t overlapping with the firm’s offering or the competitor’s offerings. This portion of Figure 3 is labelled C1.
  2. All known customer needs that the firm is currently meeting: place these on the overlapping section of Customer needs and Firm offering components of the UCS labelled C3 in Figure 3.
  3. All known customer needs that the firm is currently addressing and that also have alternative or substitute offerings from competitors: place these on the overlapping section of Customer needs, the Firm’s offerings and Competitor offerings components of the UCS labelled C5 in Figure 3.
  4. All known customer needs that are not being met by the firm, but are being met by the competition: place these on the overlapping section of Customer needs and Competitor offerings components of the UCS – labelled C2 in Figure 3.
  5. All firm’s offerings (and available capabilities) that may or may not overlap with those of the competitor but which are not currently being utilised to meet customer needs: and place these on the non-overlapping section of the Firm’s offerings component of the UCS – labelled A2 in figure 3.
  6. All of the known offerings from competitors which isn’t currently offered by the firm or meeting any known customer needs: place this in the non-overlapping portion of the Competitor’s offering component of the UCS, labelled A2 in Figure 3.
  7. All known competitor offerings which are also offered by the firm, but meet no known need of the customers: place this in the portion of the UCS framework labelled A1, where the Competitor’s offering overlaps the firm’s offering but both are not known to be meeting any known customer needs.

 

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What to do with the information:

In general, the UCS helps the firm see the size of their UCS relative to that of the competition(s), and can provide clear inputs into the strategic choices the firm makes.

 

In some cases, these options include but are not limited to:

  1. Defend the UCS
    Customers often end up churning for one reason or the other, and the goal of every business should be to retain customers for as long as they can manage and also attract new customers. When customers churn, it could only mean that the UCS shrinks one churned customer after the other, with the implication, if unarrested, of a negative impact on a business’ bottom line.So how does a firm keep customers? Listen to customers.
    Observe what they love most about your products and your competition’s offerings. Ask what can come along and replace your firm’s offerings in your customer’s mind (clue – look at those things already replacing your firm’s offerings).Lock customers in (though customers protest malicious lock-ins, however, you are better off locking customers in by ensuring your offering is the most delightful to the customer). Apple had no business making watches, right? But it risks losing some iPhone users to Android OEMs who have leapfrogged the smartwatch economy and were building ecosystems between their watches and mobile devices. By introducing the Apple Watch,  Apple figured out a way to lock customers into their ecosystem, whilst selling more to the same customers (people buy a phone once every two years on the average, and Apple figured out to sell to the same customers a second device which relies on the first one within the same or adjacent sales circle – both defending and growing their UCS in one fell swoop.
  2. Grow the firm’s UCS
    Growing the UCS could require selling more to the same customers, selling to more customers or both. Additionally, it could also imply meeting customers needs that were not previously a focus for the firm but that has a great potential for cementing the existing relationship between your firm and customers. You may recall that during COVID, UberEats which was a predominantly food delivery business expanded to also deliver medicines and small packages – both of which have now become additional sources of income for UBER and in a way, has expanded the UCS for Uber.

 

Closing notes

Whilst most strategy teams and firms understand that having a current bird’s eye view of the competitive landscape in which they compete, the UCS may be one easy-to-use framework for doing so and carrying all stakeholders within the business along for the ride.

 

[1] Chapter 5 Strategic Analysis II: High-Level Sense Making:  https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/strategy-in-practice/9781118519271/chapter05.html (accessed: 18/09/2023)