The Coming Boom in Business Analysts
Friday, August 27, 2004
The rise of service-oriented architecture and its corollary, business process management, also implies a rise in the number of people working as business analysts. It's kind of a funny term--what exactly is a business analyst, anyway?--but for SOA and BPM to succeed, more of these in-between people need to exist.
In a service-oriented world, for instance, who knows enough to figure out which business services to expose? The developers who create those services? Not likely. Doing a good job of choosing which services are worth exposing, then determining exactly what they should look like requires knowing a good deal about the business. After all, a primary goal of exposing services is to make them easy to reuse by other applications and business processes. A service-oriented application that exposes the wrong services, or exposes the right ones in the wrong way, isn't very useful. Neither developer skills nor business wizardy are needed to do this, but a solid grasp both of what an organization's applications need and how its business processes work is absolutely required. This middle ground is exactly where business analysts live.
Similarly, one of the most touted benefits of BPM is the ability to define process logic graphically, allowing business-literate people to be directly involved in creating applications. Yet expecting a VP of Sales to feel comfortable with a typical BPM process design tool is a fool's errand. Once again, someone who understands the business but isn't afraid of technology is needed: a business analyst.
Allowing business analysts to play a bigger role in actually creating software, not just specifying it, is unquestionably progress. And because these jobs require intimate knowledge of how an organization functions, they may well be more difficult to send offshore. Now all we have to do is create the positions and fill them with the right people, something which in the short run is likely to be a tall order. Still, for SOA and BPM to succeed, many more of these in-betweeners need to exist.