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Digital evolution: From business analyst to digital product strategist

As change moves us deeper into the digital age, many traditional roles in business and technology are evolving to keep up with the needs of business and consumers. One of the more intriguing evolutions has been that of the role of the Business Analyst.

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Traditionally, a business analyst is responsible for gathering, solutioning and writing requirements. They are skilled communicators with a keen ability to dig into the details, understand complicated systems and ensure the needs of the business are communicated to those developing a given product, system or process.

In recent years, a growing need for BAs has created an unplanned dilution of the role. Organizations have been forced to fill the BA void with resources that have not yet developed the proper skill set. A new generation of “semi-BAs” have been acting as scribes without the business analysis and solutioning skills that are key ingredients for the role.

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A proficient BA today must master new skills in order to succeed. They must be “solution specialists,” who can analyze complicated systems and solve complex problems. Understanding the needs for mobile, social media, accessibility, effective user experience, automation and fast performance has forced the BA to master an understanding of technology, marketing, human resources, usability and brand, along with the more standard technology requirement needs.

The scope of the BA role has changed, and they must be able to address new questions:

  • Does the solution meet brand objectives?
  • Does it map to the organization’s goals and investment priorities?
  • Does it meet organizational standards for accessibility and user experience (UX)?
  • How does the solution impact “technical debt”?
  • What about “intentional architecture”?
  • What are the potential negative impacts of not doing the request?
  • How can we put users at the center of design?
  • What analytics will be needed?
  • What are the key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • What are the risks?
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Being able to look at the bigger picture and understand the considerations within all these areas has positioned talented BAs to become Digital Product Strategists. Not only are they formulating requirements, they are working with key decision makers to craft digital strategies that solve an organization’s most complex business challenges.

A talented BA (as opposed to the “semi-BA” who serves as a scribe) is well-positioned to handle this role. They are trained to take all business areas into consideration, understand all necessary inputs, create a strategy, determine where the request fits into the overall company goals and identify the ultimate solution.

Individual BA professionals and organizations that recognize the strategic nature of digital solutioning within a collaborative design process will succeed in the digital age.

Those who climb aboard and buckle up will be rewarded. The Digital Product Strategist role has become a must-have for any successful organization and the time to embrace it is now.

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