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Business Analysis in the days of the 4th Industrial Revolution

Fourth Industrial Revolution has already set in. The World Economic Forum first drew the attention of the world to the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is driven by unprecedented technological developments. Rapid technological changes and digitalization have already landed a profound impact on Global economic growth and social progress.

Technological changes have led to innovation and transformation to lay the foundation stone of the new development. With the invention of AI, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, blockchain and internet of things, business and social environments are confronting with the new reality every day. Changes are faster than anticipated and taking place everywhere across the globe: in business and industries, agriculture and farming, in social and political environment, also in style and behavioural patterns.

Compared to the previous three Industrial Revolutions, the 4th one is evolving at an exponential pace rather than linear rate, and its multidimensional impact is likely to bring about a total paradigm shift and transformation of the entire system of production, management and governance as well as the way of thinking.

Technological transformation will fundamentally alter the way people work, live and relate to each other. This will lead us to focus on more meaningful ways of doing things, formulating solutions and maintaining the high quality standard across the industries.

Speed and flow of change cannot be restricted; we are to adjust our sails to the direction of winds of change. Change brings forth both opportunities and challenges. Those who can apprehend the changes in advance, can analyse the impact and propensity of change, and take the required preparation by analysing and balancing capabilities, and thus actually take the benefits of opportunities created by the changed environment. On the other hand, to those who are unprepared, change comes suddenly beyond their expectations, and impose huge challenges and thus are adversely affected. Fortune favours the brave– fortune also favours those who can see beyond the boundary of time and take preparation to accept and encash opportunities of change.

Mentioned earlier, the impact of 4th industrial revolution is exponential and multidimensional. In the rapid changing environment, no solution can have a long lasting effect rather a solution to be adjusted, revised and remodelled continuously addressing the rapid and exponential changes (requirements) of technology, environmental conditions, customer’s behaviour patterns, works place mix etc.

Every business, regardless of size, nature and operation, requires to continuously analyse its strength and weakness to benchmark its position with competitors. Identification of business issues, problems and opportunities together with elicitation of requirements from all identified stakeholders, capability gap analysis, formulation of probable solution, evaluation of solutions within resource limitation and associated risk, implementation of suitable validated solution and evaluation/monitoring of post implementation result – are the functions of Business Analysis.

Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that delivers value to the stakeholders.A Business Analyst works as a liaison among the stakeholders in order to elicit, analyze, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems. Till last decade, the practice of Business Analysis was confined mostly to IT and software development projects – now it is more focused, and expanded its definition,scope and areas of application to address changing environment of business. Now-a-days,Business Analysis has become part and parcel of all IT and non-IT projects.

Current Business Analysis uses descriptive and diagnostic analytic tools to find out what problem the business is currently facing, and what opportunity is currently foregoing and also the root cause of the problem. Descriptive and diagnostic analytics use past and current data to find out problems and formulate solutions to overcome problems of current time. But time has come when business enterprises, to be sustainable, need to look forward and predict what will happen in the near and far future,how the business environment with the advancement of technology is changing, what is the rate of change, what challenges the change environment will bring, and how to transform the probable challenges into opportunity.

It is really difficult to analyse the future business environments accurately. There are two types of business environment comprising internal factors and external factors. Internal environment can be relatively easy to analyse and predict, since historical and current time information is available. Influencing factors are also identified. External environment of a business is infinitely large, and consists of uncounted numbers of factors of which some are active influential factors that we can actually identify and monitor their movements. But external factors which are currently silent can be active anytime as the situation changes, and can adversely affect all solutions.

To keep pace with rapidly changing impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution, Business Analyst must start using predictive and prescriptive analytical tools and models to focus on future business requirement on the basis of past and current date, and analysing of all active factors in the external environment. In the days of 4th Industrial Revolution with rapid changing business environment, identification of current time problems, formulating and implementing solution can appear as an obsolete practice.  Success of the business operation will largely lie on how successfully a business can see the future business environments from the 360-degree angle and adjust its capabilities continuously with the forthcoming rapid technological and social changes.

It is feared that the 4th Industrial Revolution can bring paradigm shift in production sector causing reduction of full time labour due to increase use of AI and machine learning supported industrial automation. This may cause social disharmony and global unemployment. But human civilization witnessed that every technological invention and transformation is for solving emerging problems, targeted to bringing prosperity in human society and establishment of optimum welfare in the society. The 4th Industrial Revolution will combine Power of data, Power of Innovation, Power of people and Power of Analytics to establish sustainable business and sustainable social welfare.

The author is a Certified Business Analyst and Project Management Professional 


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