How Machine Learning Will Change the Role of Business Analysts

Machine learning (ML) is a technology that is related to artificial intelligence (AI), based around the idea that systems can learn from data and either improve performance or become more accurate. It is linked to the concept of automation, because machine learning development enables systems to make decisions with little or no need for intervention from humans.

Essentially, machine learning is concerned with analytical model building and can allow software to predict outcomes. This is obviously beneficial for those working as business analysts, but it also has the potential to drastically change the nature of the role itself, impacting on recruitment objectives and the structure of business analyst training courses.

In this article, we examine the role that machine learning is set to play in the near future, and explore in greater detail the various changes this is likely to make to the business analyst role in the years ahead.

Analysis driven by AI

Machine learning is set to change the role of business analysts by making AI-powered analysis more common and accessible. This technology will enable real-time data analysis and predictive analysis without requiring advanced programming or data analysis skills. As a result, business analyst training programs will focus more on fundamental skills and capabilities associated with their role.

For instance, platforms like DataRobot are already using user-friendly interfaces to make machine learning accessible to people with little or no prior experience. With these tools, business analysts can easily create and utilize accurate predictive models, resulting in automated, real-time predictive analysis.

Moreover, business analysts can use this technology to evaluate different models and thoroughly scrutinize the methodology. This allows them to compare the accuracy of each model and make informed decisions.

Related read: Artificial Intelligence: a Pandora's Box or the Holy Grail?

More human innovation

The big fear in relation to technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning is the potential for it to take the place of human beings, leaving many people out of work or with the need to re-train. However, for business analysts, at least for the next few decades, ML is likely to make the work performed by humans more important.

For example, machine learning will allow business analysts to delegate many of the role's mundane, tedious or repetitive tasks to computers or machines. This will free them up to focus on providing businesses with real innovation and more advanced analytical skills, making them more valuable to the business as a whole.

"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," explains Paramita Ghosh, in an article written for "Nitty-gritty routine work will be handled by machines and the innovative analytics strategies will be architected by humans."

Related read: Digital Transformation: The Business Analyst's Role and Value

Changing job market

While predictions that AI and machine learning will make human business analysts obsolete are unlikely to come to fruition any time soon, the technology is likely to fundamentally alter the job market. In particular, machine learning will likely make the role of business analyst more global, allowing a data analyst to work for businesses in different regions, different countries and even different continents, and expanding the talent pool for businesses.

In the past, some of the challenges that have prevented outsourcing business analyst roles to other countries have included language barriers and time zones. Yet, machine learning can help in both instances, assisting with language translation, processing and understanding, and providing automation at all times of the day. This, combined with the availability of online project management courses and business analyst courses, makes outsourcing much more viable.

"You can see it as a challenge and the fact that you will be vying for a job not only from people in your city but from around the world," says Kupe Kupersmith, writing for the BA Times. "Or, you can look at it as an opportunity. No matter where you are, you can apply for jobs around the world."

The final word

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are two of the most important emerging technologies and are going to disrupt a huge number of industries and job roles in the near future. One of these roles is that of business analyst, and the emerging technology has the potential to enable AI-driven analysis and increased automation associated with more mundane tasks, freeing business analysts up to focus on more complex, innovative and valuable work.

Moreover, machine learning capabilities, coupled with the availability of high-quality online project management courses, will likely increase the viability of outsourcing business analyst roles to other countries, expanding the job market for businesses and business analysts alike, and allowing more of the work to be performed remotely.

This is a guest post by Nadine Rochester. Nadine is a technical marketing director at Strategy Execution, a leading project management training courses provider with over 20 years' experience in the global B2B sector, hands on, creative marketer, Nadine demonstrates a passion for cutting-edge technology and a proven ability to effectively translate client priorities. Nadine is passionate about Project Management, managing and contributing to the company PM blog servicing 40,000 monthly users.