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How Are Higher Education Members Reshaping Business Analysis? Part Two

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IDC projects that revenues from big data and business analytics will surpass $210 billion at a CAGR of 11.9% in the next two years.1 This is great news for business analysis students looking to start their career as the role of business analyst is not one that can be automated by AI because it requires human cognitive skills and inputs. According to CredoLab, Data Analyst roles will be in greater demand to collect, organize and interpret statistical information, enabling enhanced decision making. 2

Improving digital performance is another critical skill student’s need to develop. “Cybersecurity and data analytics are important areas in which employers are continuously struggling to fill open positions. The IIBA certification and curriculum offerings in these areas are of great interest to us and our students.” says David Pfaehler, Program Director, Computer and Information Technology at Midlands Technical College.

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Globally there is a shortage of Business Analysis professionals and this is acutely felt in Africa. At Rhodes Business School in South Africa their Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analysis gives new professionals the knowledge and understanding to strategically, operationally, and critically address relevant methods, processes, systems, and techniques to apply to achieve sustainable business performance. “We have incorporated the IIBA ECBA presentations, into our low band-width Enrich audio format (having to deliver remotely during the pandemic), along with the aids and sample tests, into our final block; these have been indispensable.  The teachings are embedded throughout the programme, but this final re-iteration provides the students with the skills and tools to succeed,” says Professor Owen Skae, Director at Rhodes Business School in South Africa.

Higher education institutions are continuously looking at ways to keep their curriculum aligned with work trends of the future, so students are competitively prepared when they graduate. Schools are seeing an impact on the uptake and development of the business analysis profession from the curriculums being offered.

At McGill University in Montreal, the School of Continuing Studies has offered a Professional Development Certificate in Business Analysis since 2016 and a Professional Development Certificate in Data Analytics for Business since 2018. “The program gives new and practicing business analysts a deep understanding of all facets of the field…and places emphasis on the practical application of the principles, tools and best practices within globally recognized industry standards…and the additional resources available including whitepapers and webinars to help us keep abreast of industry changes, requirements and job trends,” says Lucy Brunetti, Program Manager/Gestionnaire de Programmes at the School of Continuing Studies, McGill University. Noting that in addition to aligning their courses with IIBA industry standards, the School also puts in practice some business analysis principles in the delivery of the courses within the programs. Successful business analysts must be very people centric and not only system centric. “In many of the courses that we teach in these programs, we focus on collaborative stakeholder engagement as well as, elicitation and facilitation techniques to encourage building true team dynamics in co-creating value-based solutions…and reflect the real-work environment using agile and traditional techniques…to address the constantly changing environment.”

Estonia, although a geographically small country, is a large digital country and digitization and digital innovation permeate the very fabric of enterprises, be it start-ups, multi-national companies, or government agencies. These organizations rely heavily on business analysis, even if the role is often named differently. “To cater to the needs of digitally versed business analysts, the University of Tartu offers students a set of five courses that comprise our Business Analysis Module. At the core of this module, are our Business Analysis and Requirement Engineering courses. In addition, the module also includes courses on Business Process Management, Business Data Analytics, and Digital Product Management. When our graduated students were asked about what courses are most relevant for their work, they list Business Analysis among the top 10,” says Marlon Dumas, Professor of Information Systems, Institute of Computer Science, University of Tartu, Estonia.

Has COVID Changed Higher Education?

COVID has impacted higher education from shifting to remote or blended learning – a new experience not all students are satisfied with - to challenges for international students studying abroad, or students and families’ changing financial situation, some schools may be seeing greater attrition. Administrators are looking at how to ensure students’ experience is not compromised by COVID and that they can offer the best options for students to meet the ever-changing demands of the market when they graduate. There are several approaches and strategies colleges and universities are contemplating to support enrollment and the student experience.

Fostering a next generation of business analysis professionals extends beyond a classroom setting. Moraine Park Technical College works closely with its local advisory board and regional committees to promote the profession and skillset of business analysis. The college also collaborates with regional groups, such as The New Digital Alliance. Participation with the Alliance provides opportunity to examine national trends and solicit broader feedback from organizations across Northeast Wisconsin. “We continue to see an increase in employment demand for individuals who possess a skill set associated with business analysis, spanning multiple industries,” says Bobbi Fields, Associate Dean of Business and IT at Moraine Park Technical College.

Academic institutions are also leveraging relationships with local Chapters to support the learning experience for new business analysts. In 2019, The University of Manitoba’s Division of Extended Education launched a new Business Analysis program. Built around the BABOK® Guide v3 it provides comprehensive training in Business Analysis methodologies, techniques, and tools. “This humanized online program hones the dynamic blend of soft, cognitive and technological skills necessary for success in the field of Business Analysis. Reflecting the ranging competencies, knowledge, skills, and philosophical outlook an individual Business Analyst might employ in their work, this program also captures the broad professional appeal, and develops the responsive openness and versatility, of this emerging professional field. The Manitoba Chapter of IIBA has generously supported the school’s students and program instructors,” says Paul Jenkins, Ph.D., Manager Delivery, Division of Extended Education, University of Manitoba.

There are so many more great stories from Academic institutions around the world including The University of New South Wales (Business School) in Australia to Algonquin College in Ontario to The University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand, and many others who are delivering agile programs that are aligned to provide the next generation of Business Analysts with in-demand skills and the right mindset to help businesses and organizations respond to the future needs of work.

Foster the next generation of Business Analysis Professionals

Does your institution offer business analysis courses? If not, consider that LinkedIn Learning2 ranked business analysis #6 on the top 15 skills companies need most in 2020.




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