Business Analysis in the Age of Automation by Bill Oakes, business analysis consultant

Mckinsey put out a report earlier this year where they opined that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and robotics are ushering in an ‘age of automation’. They estimate that 49% of activities in the workforce can be replaced through automation that is available today.

Having the technology available is only one facet that organisations must consider.

If they want to leverage automation to realize significant performance improvements, create new products and services or develop differing business models, they need to implement the right technology, successfully.

There are 3 key considerations:

  • There is uncertainty regarding the depth and breadth of the impact of automation on organisations and society more broadly;
  • There is uncertainty regarding the timing of this impact; and
  • Organisations may be uncertain whether they will derive genuine business improvement from implementing automation.

So how do organisations undertake AI analysis? Business Analysts play a key role in helping organisations respond to challenges and have a role to play in the transformative process kicked off by automating technologies. So what is different from a Business Analyst’s perspective this time?

I believe that the pace and uncertainty around automation will require Business Analysts to focus their resources on “value driven analysis”. The IIBA has identified the shift away from “task based analysis” and the leaders in the Business Analysis industry are investing heavily in the competencies that support this change.

In the “value driven analysis” approach, Business Analysts need to be expert in:

  • outcome-centric activities;
  • collaboration;
  • consulting;
  • proposing strategy; and
  • data insights

In a nutshell, given the complexity of these automating technologies, organisations need access to people to assist them in more than just implementation. They need people who can help them to unlock and realise their potential in a cost-effective manner. Business Analysts help organisations take advantage of disruption to add value.

So how well placed is your organisation is to reap the benefits of automation?