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💥 Business Analysis and The Fourth Industrial Revolution 💥

Jan 10, 2022

Also widely known as 4IR, Industry 4.0 and Business 4.0

 

How did we get here?

First Industrial Revolution. It occurred at the end of the 18th century, in 1784, when steam was harnessed for mechanical production.

 

Second Industrial Revolution. In 1870, mass production powered by electricity was first introduced.

 

Third Industrial Revolution. In 1969, advances in computing led to machine programming, which opened the door to progressive automation.

 

Fourth Industrial Revolution. In 2016 a fusion of leading-edge production techniques and smart systems that integrate with organisations and people.

 

Fifth Industrial Revolution. Already started, it will focus on saving our planet Earth.

 

What is 4IR?

The concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution was coined in 2016 by Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, in a book of the same name. So where better to find a good definition than within its pages? "The Fourth Industrial Revolution creates a world in which virtual and physical systems of manufacturing cooperate with each other in a flexible way at the global level". The Fourth Industrial Revolution, however, is not only about smart and connected machines and systems. Its scope is much wider. Occurring simultaneously are waves of further breakthroughs in areas ranging from gene sequencing to nanotechnology, from renewable energies to quantum computing. It is the fusion of these technologies and their interaction across the physical, digital and biological domains that make the Fourth Industrial Revolution fundamentally different from previous revolutions.

 

Advantages and Effects:

All revolutions have benefits and drawbacks, challenges and opportunities, uncertainties and certainties.

 

In the case of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the advantages are evident:

 

increased productivity,

efficiency and quality in processes,

greater safety for workers by reducing jobs in dangerous environments,

enhanced decision making with data-based tools,

improved competitiveness by developing customised products that satisfy consumers' needs, etc.

 

As far as the drawbacks are concerned, the experts point to many:

 the dizzying speed of change and the need to adapt,

burgeoning cyber risks that force us to ramp up cybersecurity,

high dependence on technology and the so-called digital gap,

lack of qualified staff, etc.

 

Regarding the latter, it is worth remembering that the deep impact of Industry 4.0 on employment is one of the biggest challenges for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the start of the process, a McKinsey Global report confirmed that up to 800 million jobs will have disappeared by 2030 as a result of automation. However, this may also be an opportunity, because, as novel technologies emerge, so will new professions that will create millions of jobs in new sectors.

 

4IR Technologies:

Artificial Intelligence is set to be one of the key technologies in the sweeping transformation of the economy, society and the labour market.

 

🔍 Internet of things

Internet of things technology, which is designed to establish a connection between the physical and digital worlds, has revolutionised numerous sectors. In fact, billions of devices are already interconnected and more and more devices are becoming smart.

 

🕵️ Bots

Robotics is constantly evolving and the bots, specially designed to interact physically with humans in collaborative environments, will be key to industry. Among other things, they optimise production and save employees from doing monotonous and dangerous tasks.

 

🦄 Augmented reality and virtual reality

These technologies combine the real world and the digital world using computer science, enrich the visual experience of both users and consumers by generating immersive experiences.

 

💻 Big data

Information is power. The full-blown 4IR will allow us to change data into information. Big data allows massive data management and interpretation for business purposes, which is particularly relevant when devising business strategies or making decisions.

 

🔬 3D and 4D printing

These days we have the means to develop prototypes (or products for sale) quickly, accurately and economically with 3D and 4D printing. This technology is becoming increasingly important in design, architecture, engineering, etc.

 

Technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have redefined how Business Analysis is applied within an organization. The onset of cutting-edge technologies can leave executives baffled. Closing the gap between technological growth and adaptation speed can require a series of ongoing transformation initiatives. And this is where Business Analysis becomes particularly crucial. It can drive the industry’s appetite for new technology, enhance customer engagements, and uncover new opportunities to leverage technology for automation and innovation.

There is a false notion surrounding AI that the role of the Business Analyst will become obsolete. While it does have the potential to automate five percent of jobs globally, AI cannot succeed without the critical soft skills that Business Analysts bring: leadership, negotiation, and empathetic communication. The partnership between people and machines is powerful, as Business Analysts can take advantage of AI-powered chatbots to automate repetitive tasks, allowing people to focus on higher value tasks. And, with demand for skills such as emotional intelligence and decision-making predicted to grow in the next five years, the demand for Business Analysis alongside emerging technologies is expected to rise.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 53.5 million adults ages 18 to 34 fill one in three jobs in America, making Millennials the largest generation in the workforce. In a market where Millennials can be expected to claim a higher share of skilled roles over time, how can organizations acquire and retain the best Business Analysts to work alongside emerging automated technologies? Here are three ways:

Prioritize upskilling and reskilling. With Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers passing the baton to Millennials in a volatile technology space, organizations will need to make significant investments in the areas of employee development, upskilling, and reskilling. By 2022, at least 54 percent of all employees will need reskilling and upskilling. Introduction of continuous learning and development programs are the key to preparing Business Analysts for activities like platform integration, regulatory and InfoSec issues, and business readiness and continuity planning – all of which are impacts of implementing novel technology. In the spirit of the popular movie Hidden Figures, in which protagonist Dorothy Vaughan teaches herself a new programming language to protect her role from replacement by computers in the 1950s, Business Analysts today should seek new skills that enable them to deliver unprecedented levels of value in working alongside technology.

 

Make the wider organization BA-literate, acting as champions for the introduction of Business Analysis standards and best practices. Organizations that spread awareness around this critical skill will empower Business Analysts to guide their organizations through digital disruption and help them optimize emerging technologies like AI.

Provide the right level of autonomy to Business Analysts by utilizing them as strategic partners. Business Analysts should be empowered with a strong understanding of their company’s strategy. The Business Analysts of tomorrow will need to play an active role in discussions that concern an organization’s long-term focus.

According to IBM, the number of jobs specialized in analytics is expected to increase from 364,000 to 2,720,000. Employers are identifying and acting upon the urgency for workforce upskilling, reskilling, and retention tactics. To improve overall skillset and maturity levels, executives should consider bringing onboard industry experts or Managed Services providers to coach Business Analysis communities. Additionally, Talent Management & Development strategy blueprints can help leaders navigate the unprecedented complexity of a workforce comprised of both people and machines. As technology-driven change continues to accelerate, Business Analysis—bolstered by the soft skills that only people can bring to the table—has never been more integral to the future of business.

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, analyse, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems. Up until 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.

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.

While this new phase is driven by hyperconnectivity, automation, and real-time data, it’s not just about investing in new technology and tools to improve business efficiency. It’s about revolutionizing every aspect of a business, its operation, and its growth. As such, the benefits of introducing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Today, the exploding data volumes and the need to tease real-time insights out of them go hand in hand. Nearly every organization today is faced with the challenge to do more with their data. Industry 4.0 is not only allowing businesses to unlock the most value from their data but also helping them become more agile, flexible, and responsive to customers by leveraging digital technologies. A survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of entrepreneurs who have adopted Industry 4.0 technologies say it has boosted their productivity and capacity to predict and prevent downtime.

 

👉 The Opportunity and the Problem

The wave of disruption brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution is creating new business models and introducing dramatic changes in the existing ones. Functioning in this new future of smart, integrated, and data-driven work process demands a whole new skill set within the workforce. In other words, they need new digital talent to thrive and survive in this brave new world.

 

👉 The biggest challenge? Skills shortage

Rapidly advancing technology is making dramatic changes to the workplace, promising to transform the very nature of work. Yet, businesses are scrambling to find people with the right skillset. Deloitte Global’s readiness report found that more than 50 percent of CXOs acknowledge a significant disparity between current skill sets and future needs.

The question is, what can your organization do to close the skill gap? Hiring is imperative, but it’s also expensive. Plus, simply hiring will hardly fulfil the skills your business needs to succeed. This is where upskilling comes in.

 

👉 Upskilling Is the Way Forward

Besides helping you become agile and ‘future-proof,’ it positions you as an employee of choice for your skilled talent, helping you attract and retain top positions and ultimately thrive in new work environments. This will involve time and investment. While your goal should be to profitably upskill, you need first to evaluate which skills you need and then develop them.

 

👉 Fortify the Right Skills

In this data-driven era, being fluent in the “language of data” gives an employee a significant edge on his or her competitors. Therefore, it’s supremely important to understand the role of new technologies and develop skillsets around them. Some of the most relevant technologies in this context are data science, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing, among others.

 

Now comes the question of how to go about upskilling. This can be done in many ways. To build skills that will take you successfully into the 4th Industrial Revolution, it’s vital to determine the training methods that would work best for you. It may include assigning a career strategy mentor, online skills training, in-person team training, and certification.

The ease of access to online mentoring and skills training gives everyone a fair and equal opportunity to boost their career prospects. Also, the fact that most online courses allow an individual to learn at their own pace is a big thumbs up for a busy professional.

Certifications, too, are a great way to equip yourself with necessary skills, especially in the field of tech. And, when your organization pays for employees to earn certifications from world-leading certification providers, you can rest assured that they are earning the skills required to give their company what it needs to succeed while advancing their career.

If anything, the business world is only getting faster and more competitive. An organization will rely on its people to survive and succeed. Therefore, upskilling yourself is not an option, but a necessity to have access to the skills you need to stay ahead and get headhunted.

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