The Role Of Business Analysts In The Era Of Pervasive BI

With the move towards Pervasive BI, organizations are investing in or actively exploring the potential for injecting operational data into business processes. This might mean a sea change for business analysts (BAs). Traditionally, the BAs analyzed business needs, identified gaps and proposed specific solutions for tracking and managing metrics. This used to be a back-office operation primarily; if there were problems, the analysts corrected errors for business rules or data issues after the fact. Now with Pervasive BI, there is no such luxury because people can make high-stake decisions based on data supplied by those rules. It is also an opportunity for an organization to unite the business requirements with IT, and increase the areas of automation to drive productivity.

Undoubtedly, the BAs are mission-critical to organizations. However, the “identity crisis” is common among BAs, as concluded by Forrester Research analysts Carey Schwaber and Rob Karel. They found it difficult to define the duties of a “typical” BA even after reviewing 29,000 job listings and interviewing more than 300 of them. One thing clear is for BAs, they need to develop and tap their skills in addition to their chosen areas of expertise in business and technical fields. BAs’ communication and relationship-building skills help bridge the gap in IT and business. Forrester Research mentions that this extends to the communication with external partners and customers, so that BAs can help provide context for understanding the end-to-end solution requirements.

Informatica delivers a capability called Business Glossary to help provide the right context for business and IT. It enables data analysts, business analysts, and data stewards to collaborate; create, manage, and share a common vocabulary for business terms and technical definitions. It fosters cross-functional alignment and helps all parts of the business better understand the context and usage of data. One customer I recently talked to said that 10-15% of the effort of their data quality and governance is spent on defining and verifying terms. By providing business context to technical artifacts, the business glossary makes it possible to catalog, govern, and use data consistently while increasing productivity within and across IT and business.

An organization’s impetus to ‘operationalize’ decision making through Pervasive BI has never been stronger. BAs can use their Business-IT savvy to help push further integration of IT into business and promote greater business focus. In the era of Pervasive BI, a successful Business Analyst not only plays a greater role in refining and translating the business requirements into solutions but also closes the gaps and areas of inefficiency in the inner workings of business and IT.

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