Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User-centered Design

It is beyond doubt that the current times of digital, mobile and social age demand professionals who are versatile, agile, sociable and dynamic. Business Analysts and product specialists are no exception to this. Whether its due to the industry demands, peer pressure, market needs or pure evolutionary tactics, BAs today are far more leading-edge, competitive, assertive and visionary contributors to the products, processes and businesses, at large. From an also-ran team player role, new-age analysts have come a long way as the multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled and multi-dimensional professionals. In this post, I will touch upon the many facets of the new-age Business Analyst and how they are adapting to the continual changes happening in the spheres of business, technology, professional and personal lives.

Emergence of the new-age BA/PO

As we discussed in the previous posts, there have been several factors that led to the emergence and evolution of the Business Analyst. The BA today moved on from just a requirements owner and a document expert and is now addressing several facets around products, processes, business and technology. Their focus still remains pretty much around the problem space, compared to the facilitation role in the solution space. The analysts identify problems, dependencies, needs and opportunities. However,  products, processes and business domains. The BAs today have been involved in scoping, release management, continuous engagement with customers and users, strategising, laying out roadmap, and working with multiple teams.  In a nutshell, the Business Analyst of the modern age is much like a leader, architect, soldier, team player…all rolled into one.

NBA_Leader.Architect.Soldier.Team Player_Texavi

Leader, architect, soldier, team player & more – the new-age BA

From being an analyst, the BA needs to transform into a leader, architect, soldier, team player and perhaps many more such roles, all rolled into one. Of course, they need not be all of these roles at the same time. The analyst today has to don one, few or all of these various roles based on the context, time, stage of implementation as befits the occasion. During the initial stages, the emphasis could be on being an architect, while during the scoping it could be that of a soldier. However, throughout the project, or initiative analysts have to keep their hat of leader and team player, no matter what stage the work is in. I touch upon the four primary facets of the new-age Business Analyst in the following paragraphs.

1. Sensible leader, not just an also-ran

You can’t talk enough about the all-imperative skill and art of analysts to work with people. They must have their hands firmly on the pulse of the different categories of people. These include the various stakeholders – direct and indirectly responsible for the product and process, from senior management all the way through to people working on the factory floor. As an able leader, the analysts must not only lead the way, but also set an example by following and working along with the team members. They should  listen actively, take steps pro-actively and be able to put in their efforts with sustainable passion, drive and commitment to achieve this shared vision and common goals.

2. Architect and a builder, not just another player

New-age business analysts must be able to look beyond the near term goals and benefits. They must have a really good and long term vision to not only lead themselves but also the team members and the organisation, at large. They must think far and beyond, using their rich experience, in-depth and specialised domain expertise. The added advantage is that these help the analysts with a “peripheral vision” around the markets, business domains, products, processes and technologies.  Besides, the new-age analyst adds great value by laying a robust roadmap that is flexible, scalable, high-performing.

3. A soldier, well-equipped and prepared

Like a soldier, who is well-equipped and well-prepared to face any kind of challenges, the new-age analyst must be prepared with all the right tools, methods and a positive attitude. The very nature and aptitude of business analysts help them to stay on the top of their game, be it at home or outside their turf. Their ability to adapt easily and quickly depending on the situation helps build on to the agility of the new-age analysts.  Analysts’ skills of being sensitive, scrupulous and open-minded, help them usable insights from ideas and actionable intelligence from information. In addition to these, the BAs try to keep ahead by addressing all possible scenarios, potential challenges and constraints, internal and external dependencies and assumptions – stated and implicit.

4. Team player, not just a one-person show

Business analysts over the ages had been looked at more as specialised consultants who come in, do their work and get out. The contribution of analysts is considered from the prism of a “support” role who comes in early in the project, find problems, specify scope and requirements and exits the scenario. However, with the advent of agile practices such as Scrum, user stories, XP, BDD and TDD being put in place, organisations are increasingly looking for analysts to be well-integrated into the development teams. The analysts today are very much an integral part of the teams and by being  participative, they contribute to the collective value delivered by the team. So, new-age analysts are equally adept at being followers and team members themselves as much as they excel at leading the teams.

I hope this post helped you understand the many dimensions, skills and demands of the new-age business analyst. We will cover more specific details on the tools, and methods for the business analyst/product owner in the upcoming posts, until then, ciao!

Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

“Markets are conversations” – this saying is absolutely relevant to the current times. No wonder social media nowadays is not optional for businesses anymore. Increasingly, more small and medium enterprises have been embracing social networks albeit a bit coerced by competition than willingly. However, not all of them who adopt the social business route are successful. A handful of them have found the right path, stuck to it and achieved success. That brings a valid question in our minds – how would you measure the success of the efforts in building a social business? Like the well-established SEI-CMM model, success in social business too depends on the capability and  the maturity of the organisation. I came up with the Social Business Maturity Model, akin to the SEI’s CMM, but contextually aligned to social business’s focus areas and processes. This post touches upon the key aspects in assessing the efforts of the business, internally and the resulting output, externally.

Why to assess and measure the social efforts

It is evident that organisations are investing their efforts, resources, people and money into making their businesses socially successful. Irrespective of industry, size and domain, these companies have taken the social business journey. They have put in place various processes and are actively undertaking various activities towards the social initiative. There should be a way of assessing and measuring where an organisation is in the context of this social efforts and processes. Texavi’s Social Business Maturity Model(SBMM) would help you to assess how mature an organisation is in the continuum from Level 1 being an initial phase to Level 5, being the Optimising phase. The SBMM enables the small and medium businesses primarily, to understand what it takes at each phase of the Social Business journey and invest their resources and efforts accordingly.

Texavi’s Social Business Maturity Model – Overview

I thought about this SBMM framework, considering the internal and external facets of any organisation. These two perspectives are helpful to assess and analyse the resources,processes and efforts required internally to generate the desired results, externally. This SBMM framework, the levels, key focus areas and the maturity matrix are based purely on my understanding and views and I did not refer to any industry or academic source, for similarity or differences. Within each of the focus areas, the organisation’s  is divided across 5 levels starting from Level1 : Start-up through to Level 5:Tune-up.The 5 Maturity Levels - Texavi's SBMM

 

Social Business internal focus – What you can do

There is no doubt that companies have to focus on selling and marketing their products and services to improve their bottom lines. However, social businesses have to do much more than this. The focus has to shift from their products and services to enhancing their brand equity, which is a larger goal to accomplish. However this cannot be achieved overnight or with a magic wand, but done gradually. So, an organisation matures across the 5 levels in the SBMM to reach the stage where the focus is clearly on building their brand. In the same way, businesses traditionally focus on selling and advertising to their customers and they extend this behaviour to social media as well. On the social and professional networks too, companies use the tone of selling to customers. However, this needs to change to a tone of engaging people in meaningful conversations.

The key focus areas for the internal focus of the social businesses, as per the SBMM are:

  • Business Focus
  • Processes
  • Delivery platforms & channels
  • Activity on social media

The following diagram illustrates these points highlighting the key focus areas for an organisation to take care of, internally:

Key Focus Areas - Internal View - Texavi SBMM

 

Social Business external focus – how you do

Marketing and communications are like the face of the organisation, presenting their view to the external world. Customers and users have always been the focus of organisations traditionally. However, with social media businesses now need to extend their reach beyond the customers to followers, friends and fans on the social networks. Also, for successful social businesses, content becomes a key strategic tool. As the organisation matures in its social business approach, they move from consuming and sharing the content to curating and creating engaging content. Messaging too gradually shifts from being interruptive to highly-contextual and personalised to the users.

The key focus areas for the external focus of the social businesses, as per the SBMM are:

  • People
  • Content
  • Business Focus
  • Messaging

The diagram given below presents the key focus areas that an organisation should take care of, externally:

Key Focus Areas - External View - Texavi's SBMM

I will try and continue my thought process on the Social Business Maturity Model in the next few posts. Also, on Texavi’s web site and White Papers, you can find more details on Texavi’s SBMM such as the Maturity Matrix and focus areas. Feel free to share your views and feedback on this post. Until next post, ciao!