Business analysts are critical drivers of success for modern enterprises, where AI-enhanced solutions are transforming how businesses operate. In order to stay ahead of the curve, business analysts will need to focus on the aspects of their contributions that move the needle and are not easily replaced by AI.
It’s not enough for BAs to be SQL and spreadsheet wizards. Great business analysts develop functional (e.g. marketing) and/or industry (e.g. retail) expertise, along with a deep understanding of the underlying data that are available for making decisions. We believe that there are two key areas of competency that will enable business analysts to be successful in this rapidly evolving technology landscape.
Context & Interpretation: While AI excels at processing and presenting data, and even generating insights, it often falls short when it comes to interpreting results because good business decisions require context. AI models are limited by the data they are trained on and common challenges include:
- Lack of data quality and completeness — yes, this recently happened: “Eight Months Pregnant and Arrested After False Facial Recognition Match”
- Overfitting of models — check out what this AI expert says: “Andrew Ng Criticizes the Culture of Overfitting in Machine Learning”
- Need for properly labeled data — this is a bit wizard-behind-the-curtain: “AI Is a Lot of Work”
So how does this shape the role of business analysts? Their domain expertise becomes a critical asset as they:
- Inform and guide the development of better data and better models (data models and AI models)
- Contextualize data outputs through the lens of real-time and real life business impact
- Follow up with the outcomes of data-driven business decisions to iteratively inform future analyses and actions
In essence, business analysts become conduits between functional stakeholders, data teams, AI, and the data itself.
Strategic Value Creation: As AI solutions continue to automate and commoditize data tasks, they are not replacing the role of business analysts, but enabling them to repurpose their time and focus towards endeavors that amplify their influence. Successful business analysts will not only continue to develop their technical skills, but also:
- Enhance domain expertise to become indispensable advisors who bridge the gap between data and business
- Deepen understanding of business needs and opportunities to unlock new dimensions for value creation
- Refine analytical skills to not only solve problems but to better define problems
- Lean into cross-functional collaboration to improve outcomes for data and analytics initiatives
These skills will not only ensure that business analysts stay at the forefront of industry trends, but will also empower them to have a more significant influence on crucial business decisions. Embracing this evolution is not about replacing existing skills, but about augmenting them with additional competencies that enable business analysts to excel in their jobs and to accelerate their careers.