The role of business analysts is one of the most in-demand jobs in data science and analytics industry and has significantly evolved over the years. For instance, a few years ago business analysts would take charge of the whole systems and team during which they would grow deep understanding of systems and processes without relying much on the subject matter expertise. Business Analysts were thought to be taking care of a lot of analytical and technical aspects of the working, apart from handling the business side of it.
While that was a general perception, the role of business analyst is more scattered with every domain coming up with their own set of specific requirements. Some may require proficiencies in Python and R, while others might not require it at all. With the evolution of roles, there is now a belief that business analysts have become nothing more than glorified project managers, whereas the actual and real analytics is now done by data scientists. But how fair is it to say that?
Why It Is Okay To Be A Business Analyst and Not Work With Python Or R
As opposed to a few years ago when Business Analysts were looked as someone who would bring business agility, innovation or engage stakeholders to drive agility and innovation, there is now more noise around the title ‘Business Analysts’. For every company the role could have other meaning — it could be someone who researches internal company finances, it can be someone who aligns business and IT or it can be someone who handles external finances.
Based on these roles they might be required to have different skills. For instance, those perceived to be experts in Python and R are the ones who usually deal with the external financial fields or IT facing business analysts, a might require deeper analysis of data such as company finances, requiring them to know the technical side of analytics.
Whereas business analyst in non-IT based companies usually deal with organisational or product changes, systems optimisation or building and extending analytics capacity. They are just as real analysts as the ones that now R or Python, but focus more on the process in an organisation rather than data side of it.
The role of financial analysts might be concerned with analysing financial assets and making an informed decision using financial data. It might require a thorough understanding of the business in order to make recommendations while requiring them to know Python or use visualisation tools among the many other skills required.
Having mentioned how two different domains might require business analysts requirements, it shows that the term BA might not necessarily mean someone working with spreadsheets and data, but are important intermediaries between technology and business team, carrying out important tasks in business transformations.
Apart from domain-specific requirements, the role of business analysts may evolve along with the work experience. In the beginner’s role, they might not have to deal with data at all but as the role evolves, they might work with data more often, as they form the business case of a given project or initiative. In the process, they might be required to play a more quantitative role and ensure that all parts of business and communications go well.
Business analysts role, therefore, might require Python skills on most times, while not requiring it at all at other instances. But they are all analysts not necessarily dealing with quantitative data. Talking of them as project managers might not be fair as they might have overlapping functions, but are not necessarily the same.
Core Skills Required By Business Analysts
Having discussed the various divisions in an industry where business analyst job roles might be required such as IT, non-IT or finance, they are required to pose a few key skills across all domains, as per a senior business analyst’s input on a recent forum:
Communication skills: Business analysts are required to deal with a lot of information and therefore it is important to speak, listen, write, present and document conversations. They analyse and process information while asking the right questions to get into the next steps of business analysis assignment. It, therefore, forms one of the must-have skills for BA roles.
Problem-solving skills: For any business to carry forward, it requires a person who can identify a problem and find solutions to overcome it. For recommending solutions business analysts need to be creative while analysing many factors around the problem. They should be able to carry an in-depth analysis while thoroughly understanding the context of the problem.
Technical skills: It is important for business analysts to understand the trends in the technology space, especially around data science to be able to bring the best solutions. Some of the skills they must know are understanding of database, architecture, frameworks, systems and more.
Design and modelling skills: Business analysts are required to know skills around building and designing models based on the problem statement, requiring them to know how to do that.
Their job role is typically to understand and describe the problem, collaborate with architects and other analysts to define a solution for the problem, organising requirements for the solution so that the development team can leverage them to build solutions, and ensuring that solution that is built meets the business. In the meantime, it totally depends on the job role if they should know Python or not.
Real-Time Examples Of How Different Companies Have Different Job Roles For Business Analysts
For example, Sapiens is looking for business analysts with interpersonal skills, self-motivated, ability to work independently with analytical and strong problem-solving, understanding of IT landscape, experience in requirement gathering and implementation.
Whereas TEG Analytics is are looking for business analysts who will work across predictive modelling, BI implementation, data understanding, guiding junior analysts in data preparation, working with the statistical team, along with understanding business situation and data-backed analysis.
While others might require understanding in data quality management framework, data dictionary, xml, fmpl, reference data and data models, and others based on different companies.
It can, therefore, be said that it is true that the role of business analysts has evolved over the years, and it is because of the various other job roles that have evolved alongside such as data scientists, data analysts, among others. Most jobs not requiring Python or R skills for business analysts role is more to do with the bifurcation of roles that has happened rather than diminishing importance of business analyst roles, and above instances suggest that they are more than just project managers.
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Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.