The Business Analyst in the World of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

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business analystIn the on-going debate over whether Artificial Intelligence, and its allied technology Machine Learning, can completely replace the human brain, many scientists are still not convinced that machines can be trained to both “think” and “feel” like humans. AI research states that when smart algorithms are exposed to patterns that are joyful or positive, they can learn to recognize a “joyful” environment and respond accordingly.

Similar experiments with other human emotions may be successful in near future. The hallmark of this learning process is recognition of past patterns. But, when environmental parameters change, can machines mimic the “rational thinking” of a human brain and suitably alter its reactions? Most analytical jobs such as that of a Business Analyst (BA) require critical thinking and rethinking decisions based on dynamically changing situations. Can Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems branch off to different thinking modes as humans do based on changing parameters?

Is the Threat of AI Technology Real?

With the re-emergence of Machine Learning (ML) research over the past decade, the global IT giants all rushed to take the lead role in bringing automated systems to the white-collar professions. In the last five years, we have witnessed a meteoric growth of robots, digital assistants, smart machines, automated bots, and apps in every industry sector from manufacturing to marketing.

Venture Beat offers a thought-provoking argument about Why AI Won’t Replace All Human Data Analysts, where the “holistic human experience” is considered to be the key driver of the human analysis process. Rather than being replaced by robots, we will actually be surrounded by a task force of automated systems for advanced analysis.

The nature of the Business Analyst job is such that it may be conducted from any location. This location-independent nature of this role also acts as some sort of a threat to certain advanced economic environments. In Your Next Business Analyst Will be a Robot, the articulated fear is not so much about the Robot Business Analyst, but about the rising supremacy of contact technology around the globe, which enables US-based business leaders and operators to recruit highly-skilled BAs in any part of the world.

Thanks to advanced technology, telecommuting in any white-collar profession is a distinct possibility. So, in the near future, off-shore human BAs may replace the US-based BAs. Further, the growth and popularity of BAs in virtual teams across the global business spectrum has been well recorded in Succeeding as a Virtual Business Analyst.

The Use of AI in the Banking and Finance World

Right now, the BA role has been partially or fully automated in banking, finance, investment banking, or portfolio management. As Artificial Intelligence makes it easy to simulate human thinking and actions using “learning algorithms,” the future possibilities are endless.

Nonetheless, it is probably too early to say that smart machines will replace the Business Analyst in the AI world, but it is probably not incorrect to mention that currently, many BA tasks in the above industry sectors have been taken over by robots, digital assistants or automated apps. AI has made rapid strides in the field of Cognitive Computing, and may be a day will come, when machines will be able to “think and decide” based on changing parameters, the way the humans do.

Globally, banks and financial institutions are using AI-based system to prevent fraud and money-laundering. Most of the customer-facing units in worldwide financial organizations use chat bots and robot customer service representatives to handle the routine customer management tasks. Recommendation Engines have been used for years to make judicious product and service recommendations to banking, insurance, and finance industry customers. The article tiled AI Applications in Banking to Look Out for in the Nest 5 Years offers some interesting case studies of AI applications in the market.

The Use of AI in the Investment World

In the field of investment banking, it is a commonly acknowledged fact that “thinking algorithms” are providing technological support to BAs through automated valuations and pitch book updates. The investment banking professionals prefer an outsourced service model, where core AI or ML functionality will be available to them quickly and easily without much downtime. Thus, the implication is that many of the manual tasks conducted by investment bankers will be taken over by smart machines in future.

In 2016, a World Economic Forum (WEF) Report stated that in the near future, about 35 percent of existing job skills will be new. Although the over-publicized, Year 2020 impact of Artificial Intelligence is under the human scanner, many of the surveyed respondents of the report believe that the newer technologies like Big Data, the Cloud, and Mobile Internet are the agents of change for the future workplace.

White collar jobs will take the impact of data technologies, it is not clear whether a Business Analyst in the AI world will perish. According to the article titled How Artificial Intelligence Will Impact Accounting, KPMG made a formal announcement about working with IBM Watson, a formidable AI solution in investigative intelligence.

The Future Evolution of the Business Analyst

In the next 10 to 20 years we can expect to see a major turnaround in economic achievements, at least in the developed part of the world, due to numerous contributions of AI. If humans and machines learn to work together now, then very soon the “physical-digital teamwork” can transform workplaces around the world. The availability of low-cost hardware and advanced software – coupled with revolutionary technologies like Big Data, Cloud, and IoT – has the potential to develop the new world of business analysis, where nitty-gritty routine work will be handled by machines and the innovative analytics strategies will be architected by humans.

The Techonomy article titled Artificial Intelligence May Change the Face of Business promises that AI will help to enhance the capabilities of a human Business Analyst. Further, the article titled Artificial Intelligence Human Data Analyst states that the BA in the new Artificial Intelligence workplace will sufficiently mitigate the global challenge of supply-side shortages in the field of Business Analysis.

Going by the current stream of AI research and spiking growth of automated systems in business analysis, one can safely conjecture that in the next 10 years, the human Business Analyst will collaborate and partner with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions to analyze, measure, and refine business processes. The article titled How Business Analysis Will Evolve discusses this in detail. In fact, the “smart systems” will work at tandem with humans to watch and learn, so that one day they can deliver decisions like the human BA does now.

The Hybrid Roles for Future Business Analysts

As domain expertise is become increasingly important in Data Science jobs, very soon we may witness one expert doubling up as a domain expert and a Business Analyst. The general perception of the BA role is that a professional may be tasked with different activities from one project to another. The Hybrid BA can well serve the technical team by wearing the domain-expert hat or the BA hat as needed. The page titled Hybrid Business Analyst roles provides vivid descriptions of many possible Hybrid BA roles.

Although the widespread belief is that smart machines are only capable of replacing factory workers or drivers, increasingly, advanced AI and ML technologies are delivering solutions that pose a direct threat to at least 10 professional (white collar) jobs. Many jobs in the banking, insurance, HR, paralegal, marketing, and healthcare domains are already being conducted by digital assistants, robots, or automated systems. Very soon, more industry sectors will watch these economical business practices, and learn to adopt them within their own domains.

The Forbes blog post titled Surprisingly These 10 Professional Jobs Are Under Threat from Big Data will tell you which jobs are at risk because of advanced AI technologies, but one thing is for sure: The global IT industry will witness a rise of qualified IT professionals to monitor and maintain these smart systems.

According to Which IT Jobs Will Survive Automation? by Economic Times, process-oriented jobs will be minimized due to semi or fully automated systems in future. These jobs mainly fall under the IT-services sector. The article also stresses that the IT industry will see a significant rise of “high-skilled” jobs in the near future, which probably hints at the Data Scientist, Data Engineer, or Big Data Analyst type roles.


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