At BBC 2017, I'm excited to be speaking as part of the NextGen Business Analysis spotlight sessions. For my talk, I'll ask you to channel your Marty McFly because it is "Back to the Future - Business Analysis in 2020 and Beyond!" In the NextGen BA sessions, my fellow speakers and I will look at the future of the business analysis field from various complementary angles. In my session, we'll step into our DeLoreans, close the wing-doors, buckle in, and sit back as we travel through time as Business Analysts.
 
We'll start with a very rapid look at the field of business analysis over the last 40 years or so - to see just how much the field has already changed. Then I'll share some thoughts on how the industries, domains, and technologies we are working in are changing right now. Banks, fast food chains, solar companies, insurance companies alike are all trying to figure out how to differentiate from their competition using technology. Business analysis activities are at the heart of driving those changes. 
 
I'll share where I see technology has already taken over some of what we do today. Then we get to the ultimate question - can business analysts be replaced by machines? There have been some interesting articles and LinkedIn discussions recently that debate this very topic. That topic naturally leads us to ask...what can't machines do? If we, as BAs, can understand the limitations of machines and become more proficient in the non-automatable tasks, then we stay relevant. My intent here is to help the audience think ahead to where the BA professional role is going so that they can stay relevant…and employed 5 to 10 years from now.
 
I think one of the biggest points of BA "career stress" has actually already hit us with the popularity of agile approaches. Agile is here to stay, but so is business analysis. Business analysis might take on a different title or role in agile, but the work is still necessary and most organizations recognize that. For example, one organization is struggling to figure out how a product owner can be full time on the project and stay just ahead of development in grooming user stories, all while keeping the lights on in their business operations. This isn't an uncommon challenge. However, in this organization, they have found a great mechanism of using someone with business analysis skills to support the product owner. The BA is doing most of the elicitation, modeling, and detailed thinking to ensure complete user stories and clear acceptance criteria. There are many variations on how this challenge is resolved, but the point is that someone is doing the business analysis work so why not utilize people who are already trained and skilled at it. 
 
I recognize I've just hinted at some topics here and not offered up any real solutions or opinions. But I can't give away all my thoughts - so come see me at BBC and we can dive deeper into all of these issues. There is some pretty cool stuff down the road ahead - if we are ready for it!

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