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Can Artificial Intelligence Boost Productivity?

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Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: It depends.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools like generative pre-trained transformers (GPT) has become increasingly popular in business analysis, and it’s easy to see why.

Trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response, GPT is a powerful tool that can help professionals save time and effort on anything from emails, website menus, and text summaries to privacy policies, terms and conditions, and shipping and delivery procedures.

For business analysis professionals, who rely on data to drive better business outcomes, its potential is limitless—but so are its risks.

In a recent Business Analysis Live! podcast, Emal Bariali joined Susan Moore and Scott Bennett for a fascinating conversation on the power of GPT and its implications for business analysis, some of which we explore below.

Looking to outsource some of that drudgework to your shiny new colleague? Here are four things to consider first.

1. Critical thinking is always trending

First things first, GPT is far from infallible. In fact, you can read about mistakes generated by AI every day in the news. But that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker for those trained in the art of critical thinking.

Despite AI’s ubiquity, careful reasoning and analysis are still key to using it properly and effectively. That’s because tools like GPT often produce generic, incomplete, or even inaccurate results. The information it generates is relatively old, too: until recently, GPT was trapped in the year 2021, with no means of escape.

Enter the business analysis toolbox, which can unlock the potential of AI by filling in its knowledge gaps. Applying critical thinking—and a healthy spoonful of skepticism—can help plug some of those holes and make a powerful tool even more so.

2. AI tools are just that, tools

Yes, our machine overlords have transformed the way we work by simplifying and speeding up mind-numbing tasks. But (whisper it quietly) they’re quite limited when it comes to showing their work, and that can be a problem when you’re depending on them for reliable, instant results.

If you asked your AI co-worker why they provided certain results over others, you’d probably wait ages for an answer (and it wouldn’t be in a language you could translate). AI tools can only give what they are programmed to give, and they can’t explain the reasons behind their decision-making process.

That might sound insignificant at first, but consider the ambiguity of a prompt like, “What are the new features of websites?” You’ll be provided with an answer regardless, but is it the right answer? Is it the only answer?

Fortunately, this is one area where business analysis truly shines.

Responsible for evaluating the results of AI tools and ensuring their accuracy and relevance, business analysis professionals are the brains behind AI’s brawn, capable of filling in the missing context behind the prompts to steer them in the right direction and ensure they’re drawing from a sound source.

3. Leave the grunt work to the grunts

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could spend more time doing the fun stuff?

Automating mundane tasks like research, emails, slide decks, and data entry is AI’s calling card—but it’s also seen as a threat (more on that later).

Automation can free up time for business analysis professionals to focus on tasks worthy of their unique skill set. And that’s great news for businesses, which depend on their strategy and leadership.

It can also be used to generate insights that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming for us ordinary humans to crank out, things like outliers in a massive data set or freakishly accurate predictions.  

By automating mundane tasks, business analysis professionals can free up time (up to six hours a day) to focus on more meaningful, deep work instead of shallow work—which cuts to the core of what any profession is all about.

Recommended Resource: From IIBA’s Online Library, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

4. Hold your AI-generated horses

Let’s end by addressing the prominent issue here: risk.

There are countless potential risks and ethical implications that come with developing and using AI tools, ranging from deep fakes and misinformation to bias and privacy concerns.

And while it’s hard to imagine machines outright replacing humans in the job market, many worry that automation will someday make their jobs obsolete.

All of these are serious concerns, and they only reinforce the need for skilled, human intervention at every stage of the automation process.

Business analysis professionals use their expertise to analyze data, identify trends, and develop strategies to improve an organization’s performance. That makes them a natural fit to steward the expanding digital workforce, harnessing AI as a powerful tool and mitigating its very real risks. 

With the right experts behind the wheel and the right safeguards in place, AI can be used to boost productivity in ways we haven’t even begun to imagine yet.

Watch this space.

Explore more podcasts from Business Analysis Live! Find additional episodes here

About The Authors:
Susan Moore

Susan Moore, Community Engagement Manager, IIBA

Scott Bennett

Scott Bennett, Manager, Business Analysis, IIBA

We host Business Analysis Live to discuss business analysis topics and answer questions from our live audience.  We have a backlog of upcoming topics and we’re happy to take suggestions. Add a comment to one of our videos to suggest a topic you would like us to cover in an upcoming Business Analysis Live!


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