WHAT IS A BUSINESS ANALYST?
Can you tell me?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the job title Business Analyst (BA). The word ‘Analyst’ is probably the most used term in the corporate dictionary. Anyone can theoretically claim that they are an analyst – and that includes me (Blog and Technology Analyst anyone?). However, the fuzzy job title of Analyst can actually do bit of harm to both Job Hunters, and Employers looking to hire.
How can you be effective at any job if you don’t really know what that job is?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ANALYST
Working off of the above definition, an Analyst can apply to many different careers and areas of expertise. Essentially, they are people who review and examine data or information for a specific area. Analyst may be the title, but the real identifier is what comes before it. For example:
- IT Analyst: someone who is responsible for building and maintaining I.T. networks, servers and other computer hardware.
- Financial Analyst: someone who is responsible for researching and analysing financial information to make well informed decisions about the future investments of a company.
- Data Analyst: someone who performs a variety of tasks related to collecting, organizing, and interpreting statistical data.
- Application Analyst: someone who specializes in specific software package or custom business application.
- Digital Analyst: someone who specializes in understanding the effectiveness of any digital marketing channel such as social media, mobile, or even email.
If you want to see Infographics of some of these job titles, check out our Pinterest page HERE. P4Digital is an excellent source for information about the new jobs emerging in the digital revolution.
There is a reason the term ‘Analyst’ is so used in corporate society; because it can apply to a wide variety of areas and expertise. It is not a phrase that is meant to be bottlenecked.
To understand any of the above jobs, you have to understand the first word in the title.
The key to a business analyst role is business!
WHAT IS BUSINESS?
It doesn’t matter which part of the world you’re in, which language they speak or what dialect – everyone understands Business.
The key to business analysis is to further define what is meant by that particular business, and which part of that business you are referring to.
- Horizontal Industry: A horizontal industry is one where companies tend to produce a wide range of products and services. This type of industry totally lacks in specialisation.
- Vertical Industry: A vertical market is an industry companies that develop similar products and are marketed to similar demographics.
Business can be broken down into these industries.
VERTICAL MARKETS AND BUSINESS ANALYSTS
Businesses can further be subdivided into Divisions. Vertical industry in retail, manufacturing, banking and government could be divided into divisions of accounting, distribution, public relations and consumer affairs, to name a few.
For example: The mortgage department at a bank would be considered a division, while the Credit department there would be considered another, separate division.
A Business Analyst is someone who can work within a division in a business Vertical.
In Toronto, for example, a common Business analyst would a retail/mortgage business analyst for a Canadian global financial institution.
They can be incredibly specialized.
WHAT IS BUSINESS ANALYSIS
Business analysis involves understanding the needs of the company in each division and vertical. From there, an analyst can recommend solutions that deliver value to both employees and stakeholders.
They do this by assessing the impact of that solution, understanding requirements needed for it, and then ensuring that those requirements are delivered.
While all this change is happening, a business analyst must continue to support the everyday functions of the business.
IF A BUSINESS ANALYST IS THERE TO ENSURE THE SURVIVAL OF A COMPANY, WHERE IS HE LOCATED?
Business Analyst’s are located in practically all business divisions. They can be found within a number of departments in an organisation:
- Public Relations
- Consumer Affairs
- Many more
Wherever they work, Business Analysts must be great communicators, tactful diplomats, and excellent problem solvers. They must have the ability to understand and respond quickly in rapidly changing business environments.
WHY ARE THEY SO IMPORTANT?
The only constant thing in this world is change, and Business Analysts are likely to be the key change facilitators in any organization or company.
They must deliver effective solutions with obvious benefits, and these usually have to be done within short time frames.
This is especially true now, in the wake of the digital revolution. If a company can’t keep up with the changes happening at an exponential rate, they will be left behind.
In hindsight, Blockbuster video could have probably used a better Business Analyst. Maybe one in the consumer behaviour division.
Apple on the other hand, has an amazing one.
Business analysts work across all levels of an organization. They could be involved in in everything from defining strategy, to creating the architecture, to taking a leadership role by defining goals, to supporting continuous improvement in businesses technology.
They have the specialized knowledge needed to act as a guide, and lead the business through unknown territory to get it to a profitable destination.