Business Analysis Trends for 2011 and 2012

by Jason Questor
EVP Learning Systems

Every year business professionals are asked for their thoughts regarding current and growing trends. There is no shortage of opinion. This can be a fun exercise, but must be balanced with something my grandmother taught me that has long been my motto – Consider the Source.  A vendor who is hawking jelly beans will sometimes insist that jelly beans are all the rage and are definitely on the uptick for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, you do often find vendors who really do their homework because they want to stay ahead of the game and provide a service to their clients.

In my role as president of the Toronto chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis, I am frequently button-holed for my thoughts on where business analysis is and is going.  So this year at our January event I thought it would be a cool idea to have a panel discussion about this. The purpose was twofold, and based on what people were actually seeing:

  1. Review and report on the trends we had predicted for us by an industry expert last year for 2011.
  2. Ask people what they thought the next 12 months will bring.

The demographic was people who are on the ground doing business analysis and those who are managing these efforts in real life, honest to goodness business projects.  The panel consisted of members of the Toronto chapter board, each of whom presented their thoughts. The audience, 33 Toronto Chapter members, was invited to contribute too. Hardly scientific, this was more of a “group wisdom” exercise, gathering together the ideas of people in the trenches: us.

This week I look at the 2011 predictions. Next week I will report on the going-forward predictions for 2012.

2011: How Did That Work Out?

Below are how the votes tabulated. Note that in some cases not every member voted. Also note that the votes were about what we saw in our own organizations and with our own clients. This is not the same as a yes or no. When you look at the responses, it will be easy, with 20/20 hindsight, to dismiss the predictions. Doing so would miss the point, which is this. Forecasting the weather, or anything else, means weighing a multitude of variables against each other and making a SWAG (scientific wild ass guess).  When you look at such predictions, you must ask yourself if they reflect:

  • what is happening
  • what we hope will happen
  • what we had better do if we know what’s good for us.

So here are the results.

Prediction

Saw It

Didn’t See It

Verdict

Board

Members

Board

Members

1. Business architecture will be the primary focus for business analysts

0

0

5

31

It is a growing focus but it is not the primary one.

2. Business analysis will guide the surge in cloud computing.

2

11

3

20

No. BA’s are not at the table but should be.

3. Requirements management and development will lead in delivering smart business perspective

0

2

5

31

No. BA’s are not at the table but should be.

4. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) will solidify its reputation as the industry standard.

2

1

3

32

Yes in pockets, but overall no.

5. Agile success will go to those willing to break with tradition.

4

12

1

21

Did not see it, but gap is closing.  The way the prediction was worded made a yes or no difficult, but overall it was not seen as making inroads overall.

6. BA’s will be recognized as the critical change management proponent to avoid troubled projects.

5

6

0

28

Yes, but only where there are Enterprise BA’s

7. Resurgence of Centres of Excellence

4

23

1

10

Not so much a resurgence as a continuing trend.

8. Requirements management and development will be essential to regaining market share.

1

0

4

33

Did not see it but it is something that is true. What is lacking is organizations actually leveraging business analysis for strategic achievement.

9. Requirements management and development will continue to struggle to define itself.

1

12

4

21

We are there. We know who we are and the value we provide and business is taking notice.

10. Requirements management and development will require better balanced competencies.

5

33

0

0

Absolutely. In particular, business analysts are becoming client relationship managers.