Part 2 of 9

In this blog series, we’re unpacking each of the eight core Data & Analytics roles. We aim to share key information to guide those looking to enter the industry, or seeking to employ these skills within their ranks. We’d love to hear your thoughts too.

In this blog, we’re unpacking the Business Analyst role. Probably the role with the greatest longevity, BAs have been employed by organisations for the past two decades. Still central to information management, the focus of a BA has shifted as technology has advanced.

Business Analysts are no longer expected to do and be everything and anything within a typical IT delivery team. Rather, they are expected to enable their organisations to take advantage of opportunities through critical analysis of real-time information, customer demands and business needs and by the effective management of the mountains of data, digital tools and technology required to drive internal process refinement.

Role Overview

Business Analysts are the fix-it men and women of the corporate world. Their job is to improve business processes (e.g. productivity, output, distribution, etc.) and their solutions are often technological ones. A multi-faceted role, BA typically handle a variety of tasks such as:

  • Establish and manage the objectives and scope of the business and associated IT systems;

  • Identifying organisational problems and determining data-driven solutions;

  • Recommend changes to processes, products, personnel and structures necessary to drive efficiency;

  • Develop, or revise, processes and systems

  • Conduct analyses, testing or training;

  • Make specific IT recommendations and support their implementation; and

  • Act as the liaison between technical developments and management

Qualifications

BAs have varying degrees of technical know-how, depending on their backgrounds and approaches. They primarily are focused on seeing the “big picture” and understanding the challenges to develop – and implement – solutions. Some approach a job from their extensive knowledge of IT processes, others from a management, business administration or finance perspective.

For this reason, most employers expect a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or a field relative to their specific industry. Those who have higher levels of IT knowledge/qualification will be more attractive as candidates, given the technological drivers today. For those who begin with an IT qualification, consideration for a BA role would require them to have exposure to quality management, organisational development and statistics/finance.

Skills

Business Acumen

The ability to understand how individual processes and technologies impact the business holistically, and how to predict new developments through monitoring of industry trends

Technical Expertise

Utilisation of knowledge and experience of computer programming, systems engineering, database management or big data to achieve strategic business goals

Analytical Skills

Complex problem-solving and technical analysis to create unique solutions

Written & Verbal Communication

Ability to translate technical concepts into pragmatic solutions that management, and other staff members, understand and can buy-into

Interpersonal

Ability to communicate and negotiate effectively to tactfully direct a broad spectrum of individuals – across various departments – to affect change

Management

Effective planning, strategic business process modelling and quality management techniques

Career Pathway

Individuals seeking to occupy a BA role typically come from analytical jobs such as Developer, Database Administrator, IT Support Specialist, IT Infrastructure Specialist or Quality Assurance Analyst.

For those looking to stretch beyond a standard BA, the following options typically exist on the career ladder: Business Intelligence Analyst (BIA), Management Analyst or Senior Business Analyst.

Many experienced BAs seek to transition into independent consulting or into management consulting firms but to do this, most are expected to earn an MBA or masters within a financial discipline.

Remuneration Trends

Because “Business Analyst” is an exceptionally broad job title and could mean anything from an entry-level analyst to an extremely specialist independent consultant, there are significant variations in remuneration. Remuneration typically is linked to the individual’s qualifications, industry-specific experience and data analysis abilities.

Outlook: Future of Work

Business Analysts have traditionally relied on experience and reactive analysis to make decisions but big data is changing this rapidly. The breadth and depth of information available to companies, in real-time, is staggering and this has shifted the focus of the work typically completed by a BA.

Organisations can now automate tasks and interrogate raw data directly – pushing it to business users in real-time, meaning that the need to employ an expert go-between has diminished.

Instead of deploying surveys and other analytical tools to assess customer behaviour, data scientists can now mine key points (i.e. impulse buying decisions, advertising response rates, social media sentiment and the like) to make accurate statistical predictions.

Look out for the next installments in this 9-part series, where we’ll unpack each of the 8 core roles within the Data & Analytics environment. Visit www.tsrecruitment.co.za to view our blog and make sure you follow us on our TSR social media platforms to receive the blogs as soon as they’re released.

If you’re looking for an opportunity within the Data & Analytics space and would like to have a confidential career conversation, please get in touch with sheila@tsrecruitment.co.za

And if you’re looking to enhance your organisation’s data or analytical capability, look no further. We’d be delighted to meet with you for a no-obligation consultation on how to boost your chances of securing the best talent available in the market.