In 2018 I had the opportunity to attend the much lauded Business Analysis Europe Conference in Westminster, London, courtesy of UCISA’s personal development bursary for those working in the education sector.
The 2018 event marked the conference’s tenth year and having been a Business Analyst for approaching fifteen years now, this conference has been on my radar for some time. Over the years I have watched longingly as more senior colleagues, freelance peers and even co-workers nominated for ‘Business Analyst of the Year’ have departed for London for three days of sharing ideas, networking and learning and returned positively sparking with inspiration. This year, my turn came and I spent much of the week before preparing and planning, determined to gain the most I possibly could from this experience.
I returned, somewhat exhausted, but brimming with ideas, inspiration and a renewed pride in my profession. As a blogger, I also have inspiration for articles and blogs to keep me and my readers happy until Christmas! Over the space of the three days, I attended fifteen talks and workshops and left each one more enlightened that when I walked in, from gaining a new nugget of information, a shift in my attitude and approach towards the BA profession, to learning an entirely new technique.
More detail will follow over the coming weeks, but in this article I discuss the first of a number of key themes that seemed to permeate the conference; convergence.
Many years ago I completed a lengthy application process for an industrial placement with a global corporation and on my application form I ticked ‘marketing’ and ‘IT’ as my two business areas of interest. In the interview stage, I was quizzed for some time on what the recruiters perceived as a most unusual juxtaposition; how could a person wanting to work in the technical discipline of IT also harbour an interest in the creative field of marketing?
Marketing has been a career-long interest for me. I chose to pursue a career in IT, but have often tended towards marketing in my personal development, attending the occasional CIM training session, self-studying related online courses and eventually undertaking a Masters which comprised at least 50% marketing modules. But why, if I had chosen a career in IT? Well firstly because I find marketing theory and customer behaviour fascinating and secondly, perhaps because I approached IT from the field of web design and running my own business in the early 00s, I’ve always mentally linked marketing with IT.
Unfortunately my industrial placement hirer’s attitude was not in isolation. Throughout my career, many potential employers have been perplexed and in some cases even turned off by my multi-disciplinary set of interests. Given this, it was a great reassurance to find that a significant proportion of the discussion, theory and techniques at Business Analysis Europe had roots in or strong connections to marketing.
Technological innovations and developments have disrupted almost every industry. The pervasive use of digital devices and social platforms by the majority of the populace, certainly in the Western world, has led to digital becoming a primary channel for many companies to engage with their customer base; pushing communications to them, engaging them in two-way conversations, facilitating digital communities of like-minded customers and of course ecommerce.
These digital marketing systems and platforms require IT professionals, just as with any other system and as with any other project, Business Analysts need to understand marketing theory and strategy if they are to design, build and successfully implement systems to support organisations’ marketing strategy.
I draw on marketing as it is an area of personal interest and because it was indeed a key area of focus at the conference, but the same applies for all areas of business; sales, operations, asset management, HR and certainly customer service and PR, as previously explored in my earlier blog article Blurred Lines. As Mark Smalley (@MarkSmalley) stated in his The Digital BA session; “In the digital enterprise, business and IT are converging and we need to consider the consequences of this”
In addition to convergence, the following concepts arose time and again at Business Analysis Europe 2018, being discussed and explored in the majority of the sessions I attended. Please click on the titles below to read the rest of the blog series.