How Are Higher Education Members Reshaping Business Analysis? Part One
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Digital transformation and data analytics are driving demand for business analysis skills in non-traditional business analyst roles. Foundational skills remain key to laying the groundwork for a solid understanding of What, When, How, and Why you use particular business analysis skills, but as markets evolve, new and existing professionals need to adapt to future-proof their skills. Data analysis, UX, and digital are the skills students need to build.
41% of marketing and advertising executives say they are struggling to find skilled professionals with data analysis skills.1 Schools are seeing a range of students from different backgrounds looking to develop business analysis and data analysis skills, along with cybersecurity, agile, and product ownership.
Colleges and Universities around the world are using different tools, approaches, and methods to shape future business analysts to meet changing market needs.
To foster future-ready business analysis professionals, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, a renowned liberal arts institution, primes early-career business analysts to approach business problems in an entirely new way. “The next generation of business analysis professionals must have an array of diverse skills to meet technological advances while having a mindset of lifelong learning to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive workforce,” says Thalia Giraldo, Assistant Director of Applied Learning Initiative and Innovation Projects at Trinity College. “Rapid technological changes and demands for innovation mean that business analysts must pair their fluency in digital skills with a creative and critical, human-centric approach”.
At Midlands Technical College (MTC), they are actively engaged in fostering the next generation of business analysis professionals. “Our faculty leverages years of industry experience supported by our curriculum and the adoption of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) Body of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide) while instructing our BA courses. We educate business analysis (BA) students on business analysis tasks, tools, and techniques (T3),” says David Pfaehler, Program Director, Computer and Information Technology at Midlands Technical College.
“Focusing on the T3 builds competencies in our students and prepares them for employment in both entry and senior level BA positions. While the BA skills are core to doing the work of a BA, MTC helps students develop interpersonal skills to master stakeholder engagement. Students leverage their mastery of the IIBA methodologies to analyze and understand business problems and opportunities. This enables them to develop a deep knowledge of the domain to elicit and gather the ‘right’ requirements that will solve the ‘right’ business problem, within the ‘right’ scope of work,” Pfaehler added.
Developing Solution-Oriented, Value-Adding Enterprise Analysts
The Swinburne Business School for the Masters in Business Information Systems (MBIS) in Australia have orchestrated a range of touchpoints where students can gain the required skills and experience. These touchpoints include exposure to the current industry through guest presentations and in-class activities, tailoring assignments to industry practice, adopting BABOK® Guide concepts, cultivating soft-skills, and preparing students to be work-ready through internships (or self-sourced internships) and career advice. The future workforce will continuously face abstract problems that require more than technical skills which are increasingly being automated. “To connect the dots, future business analysis graduates will need to navigate stakeholder management, information elicitation and focus on increased value offering… these skill sets will help graduates to acknowledge the elephant in the room and see the whole picture without a tapered view. I recall a parable often shared in my school days about blind men asked to conceptualise an elephant by touching it. Each one of them feels a different part of the elephant's body, but only one part and are asked to describe the elephant based on their restricted experience, such as the ear or the leg. As the parable goes the men become distrustful of the others due to their narrowed perspective. MBIS delivers programs which help to unlock this tapered view to meet the changing needs of future business professionals,” says Suku Sukunesan, Course Director at Swinburne Business School for the Masters in Business Information Systems (MBIS).
At Indiana Tech they have structured their program to run courses like enterprise labs which allows students to immediately put into practice tools, skills, and models they are learning right away. “We like to see students actually making decisions and learning from the consequences of their decisions, both good and bad, as opposed to focusing too heavily on possibilities and probabilities in closed systems. It's through constant solution-oriented iterations of course material (how would we use this tool, how does this context change our strategy, would this model work here, etc.) students learn and start to make the material their own - developing heuristic and technical level expertise,” says Trent Grable, Assistant Professor of Business, Director of the Center for Creative Collaboration at Indiana Tech. “We teach students to ask the right questions, and then ask more of them, to build the usefulness of their conclusions, decisions, and prescriptions,” states Grable.
At Cork University Business School of University College Cork in Ireland their BSc Business Information Systems Degree (http://www.ck203.ie) was already very much aligned with IIBA standards. The accreditation process for certification provided the opportunity to reflect on module content to ensure it met the needs of both graduates and industry. Since joining IIBA as an Academic partner in 2014, CUBS have updated its analysis modules and adopted the BABOK® Guide as the supporting text for their final year students. “We have used the IIBA model as a tool in teaching the skill of constant experimentation - continuous analysis of the conditions in which we are attempting to make good decisions. We want our students to be technically and quantitatively correct absolutely. However, we want them to realize even imperfect decisions made in unideal situations can be useful to your enterprise. It is their job as analysts to make the best sense of any available data to inform difficult decisions in any given context,” says Gaye Kiely, Lecturer, Cork University Business School, University College Cork.
In the absence of perfection, that is a pretty good outcome.
1. 6 skills tomorrow’s digital marketers need to master: https://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/personal-career-development/6-skills-tomorrows-digital-marketers-need-to-master/
2. The Skills Companies Need Most in 2020—And How to Learn Them: https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/top-skills/the-skills-companies-need-most-in-2020and-how-to-learn-them