Introduction: The Conditions are Strong for Business Analysis!
It is often said that we live in a ‘fast moving world’, and many would agree that in recent years we have seen extremely fast movement in the context that organizations operate within. Whether it is political change, the availability of new technology, changes in social trends or customer expectations, increasingly there is a need for our organizations to respond quickly. Organizations that cannot innovate, adapt and respond to the market risk losing their market share as they slowly dwindle away. Stakeholders want change, and they want it now… gone are the days (if they ever existed) where schedules were empty and time was available in abundance.
In situations of fast-paced change, business analysis is even more relevant than ever. BA Practitioners are able to help organizations identify problems, opportunities and threats, and work with stakeholders to create new products, new ways of working and new ways of solving problems. Skills that underpin business analysis such as holistic and systemic thinking have a huge part to play in this context.
Given the speed of change, it is really tricky to predict what trends will grow in popularity or relevance. I am sure whatever emerges will seem obvious in hindsight, even if it would have been difficult to foresee. Yet, I have always thought that making predictions has a useful place in that it creates a conversation and it creates debates. So, what follows is designed to provoke discussion, and is intended to represent ‘potential trends to watch’. It is certainly not intended as a definitive or extensive list. I’d love to hear your views, so please do connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s continue the conversation.
Trend 1: Increased Focus on Organizational Agility (as well as Agile!)
In order to keep up with the fast-paced external environment, organizations increasingly rely on their underlying organizational agility, and business analysis has a key part to play in enabling this. Agility is a broad term (be sure to check out the ‘business agility manifesto’ for a wider discussion), but a key angle relates to how quickly the organization can respond to a stimulus from its environment and adapt. Imagine an opportunity or threat presenting itself— did the organization predict it? Did it even see it when it happened? Does the organization have the ability to act quickly, experiment, test and learn? All of this requires a commitment to agility throughout the organization.
Agility requires a coordinated response from different actors within the organization, and it can be small-scale or huge. This probably sounds rather abstract, so let’s take a fictional example. Imagine three online retailers dominate a particular niche market. All three have ‘free three day delivery’ or ‘express one day delivery’ options, which customers accept as the norm. A new innovative competitor emerges that offers free one day delivery, and can even offer 3-hour delivery for a limited range of products in some cities.
The entry of a new innovative competitor threatens to reduce sales and create higher expectation from existing customers.