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The BA Role: An International Perspective  

By Neil Bazley, Vice President, Chapters, IIBA  
 
In my travels and my quest to better understand business cultures around the world and to truly be the global BA, I have been quite understandably interested in the role of the BA in the countries that I have traveled in, as well as in other regions around the world.
 
There really isn’t a lot of data out there to support any trends based on geography, and as we all know “The plural of anecdote is not data.” However, there are a few trends that I have observed in my discussions with chapter leaders and BAs worldwide that we can use to start to make some generalizations as to how ‘business’ in specific regions view the role of the business analyst.
 
Strategic roles in industrialized regions
I’ve largely seen this in Western Europe and to a lesser extent in Canada, where the role of the BA is either embedded in the business or as a strategic partner to the business in a service group.  The BA liaises with senior management and works on strategic planning, road mapping and projects that are deemed to be critical to the success of the organization. Management consultants fit this role globally as well.
 
Tactical roles in industrialized regions
In two words, project analysts. My feeling is that these roles and the IT focused analysts in the next category make up the bulk of business analysis that is being performed today. These BAs focus on requirements and delivering business value in the project they are assigned to.
 
IT only roles in industrialized regions
This is a broad category, involving application support, infrastructure or network analytics. To the extent that they do not fall into the strategic categories (and some do) I would place most of the data analysts here as well.
 
IT roles in emerging regions
Outsourced support roles have been with us for decades now, and this is the bulk of IT BAs in emerging markets. There is a lot of activity in call centers and software development and there should be for some time as there are many emerging markets that have not reached their potential yet. This was very evident from my last trip to Vietnam.
 
Emerging roles in emerging regions
By definition, emerging roles are not fully fleshed out yet. My only real data point on this is the amount of interest I received when talking to younger, well-educated Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City and from my understanding of how much the Vietnamese government is trying to work to solve a myriad of internal issues and how they are trying to get to the root of many problems. As I explore more of Asia, this is an area I want to see more of, to find out if my assumptions here are valid, and hold true for other regions.