As technology becomes increasingly vital for organizations in today’s world, the role of the business analyst plays a foundational part in facilitating transformation efforts. First let's consider what we mean by ‘digital transformation’. CIO states that: “Digital transformation marks a rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes in pursuit of new business models and new revenue streams, driven by changes in customer expectations around products and services.”
According to Forbes: “It generally means the shift away from manual procedures to digital technologies in order to automate new or existing business processes, along with the necessary changes to organizational culture and improvements in customer experiences to meet market and consumer demands. This usually translates to creating faster, more convenient ways of doing things, and we can see it in our everyday lives.”
Gartner explains it as follows: “Digital transformation can refer to anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.”
There are five aspects of digital transformation that, for business analysts, carry the most weight:
The replacement of manual or partially automated processes and operations with those that are digitized and mostly automated. The efficacy and success of these processes is reliant on the software or technology selected.
Technology becomes an integral part of the production process and the end-to-end product or service
Many direct human interactions are replaced by digital interactions
The unveiling of security, organizational or data issues that are ingrained in the legacy processes and operations
The impact on the entire organization due to the shift to digital
If we consider the reasons frequently cited for why companies fail at digital transformation, we are able to better appreciate the difference business analysts can make to the transition and effectively managing the inevitable disruption.
Let’s first consider those reasons for failure. The list below is taken from this excellent article from Forbes where they are discussed in deeper detail:
Not having the right data in the right place
Working with poor onboarding processes
Implementing new tech onto a broken outdated tech stack
Failure to set clear end-user experience goals
Miscommunication of the goals of the transformation initiative
Not coordinating goals across teams
Mistaking digitization for digitalization
Lack of commitment
Fear of failure
Lack of the right skills
Overestimating benefits and underestimating costs
Where business analysts make a difference is when they are proactively and consistently allowed and encouraged to engage with internal staff across the organization.
If they are supported, encouraged and motivated, they will freely share their knowledge of the industry and the company, including the ‘who’s-who’, the systems, the processes, and previous project experience within the organization. This inside knowledge is invaluable.
But business analysts themselves struggle with legacy processes and operations, particularly in tech laggard heavy industry. Here’s a quick inexhaustive look at some of those challenges:
They frequently deal with hidden agendas, changing priorities from upper management, and corporate dysfunction
They are required to interpret the needs of others and bring the different data together in a comprehensible digestible manner
They are navigating between headquarters and site regularly
They are frequently demoralized and even exhausted in their role of advocating for change in an environment where there is no appetite, significant resistance despite the information provided, and a lack of commitment from leadership
They frequently have limited resources but are always asked to do more with less
They are right at the forefront of dealing with rapid organizational change with little support or buy-in
One of the root causes of their frustration is the fact that their organizations data is siloed across multiple systems, out of date, difficult to search and find, and even sometimes not available in their network. Oftentimes they require approvals and permissions for them to access what they need to do their job.
For them, data aggregation is the beginning. Access to all engineering, geospatial, planning, scheduling, and operational data in a single web-based interface allows them to find everything they need wherever they may be.
Data contextualization is the next major benefit for business analysts. Data contextualization allows them to bring all aggregated data together and provide context back to the 3D site, providing immediate visual understanding. Business analysts can now easily understand what the data is saying, use data stories to enhance productivity, and deliver better outcomes. Better data drives better outcomes.
We’ll close this post with a quote from a Senior Business Analyst at ExxonMobil relating specifically to VEERUM’s digital twin solution:
“Having access to all this traditionally siloed data has been extremely powerful for us. This is now a foundational tool within our toolset. It’s a new visual way of doing work.”
If you found this to be of interest:
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