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The Intrapreneurial Business Analyst

The Intrapreneurial Business Analyst

Business analysts have ‘street knowledge’ and deep insights into the main pain points in business. Who better then, to lead the charge in a multinational organisation that has distributed, virtual teams and foster a startup mentality?

Manoj Phatak

Manoj Phatak

A Call to Business Analysts

Would you like to be more involved in identifying opportunities for strategic change?

Would you relish the chance to exercise your natural leadership skills?

If so, a more intrapreneurial mindset (i.e. acting as an entrepreneur within your organisation) would be good for you and also for your organisation.

Intrapreneurship fosters a culture in which the multinational (or some part of it) remodels itself as a startup, capable of disrupting traditional processes and traditional customer expectations, to the benefit of both.

The business analyst occupies the essential and lucrative position of ‘inside entrepreneur’ in this culture, leading teams of customers, investors and suppliers (within or outside the organisation) to solve new or existing problems in innovative ways.

Business analysts must combine both technical and personal skills to minimise the threats posed by disruption and deliver benefits to the organisation, both financially and socially.

Why the BA?

Experienced business analysts have typically spent years developing competences in communication, forming crucial relationships with key stakeholders, identifying business needs and ultimately delivering solutions.

Business analysts have ‘street knowledge’ based on myriad conversations, workshops, customer shadowing and deep insights into the main pain points in business.

Who better then, to lead the charge in a multinational organisation that has distributed, virtual teams and foster a startup mentality that cuts through the traditional bureaucratic red-tape and drives the business unit to innovative and profitable new products and services?

Key competences

Key competences of an Intrapreneurial Business Analyst include:

  • Fostering an innovative mindset focussed on the bottom line rather than on implementation details
  • Quantifiable and controlled risk-taking
  • Communication, leadership and relationship-building
  • Measuring business benefits and delivering on them
  • The capability to ‘Show Me the Money’ i.e. knowing how to sell an idea to senior management

The role of the BA is transitioning from a humble ‘Taker of Requirements’ into a Leader, an Innovator and a Disruptor.

Christian Koch (in ‘Rise of the Intrapreneur’, Director Magazine) claims that intrapreneurs are the ‘secret weapon’ of the business world.

If businesses stand still for too long, they will find themselves being overtaken from the right, from the left and from above and below.

So, the real question is:- Can you afford NOT to innovate?

Benefits to the Organisation

Some of the benefits an organisation would receive would include:-

  • Being voted into the coveted ‘Best Place To Work’ awards and consistently winning top talent
  • Capturing young energy and new ideas with a sandboxed, lean approach to innovation with shoestring budgets
  • Forcing your BAs to think in terms of ROI, which can permeate into other more traditional projects in your organisation

Back to The Garage

How do we enable such a change in culture?

Take some lessons from Google X Labs, the LinkedIn [In]cubator, John Lewis JLabs, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works programme, Intel, 3M, HP, and the list goes on.

All these companies have survived today thanks to innovation.

Here are some quotes from these companies:-

LinkedIn [In]cubator

“We see [in]cubator projects as small investments that have the potential to become big wins for the company. So far, we’ve approved five projects. One of our projects, an internal tool called go/book, has already shipped and is deployed across all 26 offices worldwide, and has completely changed how we book meetings at LinkedIn. The project was so successful, in fact, that we approved the go/book team for a second round of development.”

Google X Labs

“The self-driving car project started in 2009 to develop technology that could make our roads safer and improve mobility for everyone. In October 2015, the team completed the world’s first fully self-driving trip on public roads in a car without a steering wheel, pedals or test driver. The project graduated from X and is now Waymo, an independent Alphabet company”

John Lewis JLabs

“JLAB is recognised as one of the best and most popular retail accelerator programmes attracting hundreds of hopeful companies from around the world. We listen to feedback every year so we can continuously improve the JLAB experience for the startups involved, which is why we are delighted that Waitrose have decided to be part of JLAB. The knowledge and expertise Waitrose will inevitably add to the programme makes for a very exciting fourth year”

Salesforce

“We’ve finally understood that the key to “Sustainable Transformation” is in democratizing Innovation. Organizations must embrace and reward employees who explore, experiment and learn as part of their daily job, not just the “special project”. That’s how you drive continuous and holistic innovation, that’s how you make it a sustainable way of being.” – Kristin McClanahan Raza (Salesforce)

Key Tips to Ensure Success

  • Do not penalise failure
  • Foster out-of-the-box thinking
  • Use early customer validation
  • Force a shoestring budget to reduce risk and increase potential ROI

And finally, ask yourself this question:-

Can you name one market-leading organisation that has succeeded in the last decade by standing still?

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Business Analysis for IoT

Business Analysis for Internet of Things (IoT) Projects

Business Analysts need to figure out how to provide a seamless fit between customer experience, burgeoning IoT technologies and the continuous drive for business operational efficiency.

Manoj Phatak

Manoj Phatak

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, computers lived in large ventilated rooms.

Then they moved to your desktop.

Then they moved into mobile phones, and smart traffic lights and ‘black boxes’ for automotive insurers.

Once Upon Another Time, Business Analysis was only performed in large companies, with large mainframes and even larger teams that spanned IT, marketing and finance.

Then, with the advent of cloud-based business intelligence and web analytics tools, it became possible for everyone to customise market demand estimations, explore KPIs and to see click-through metrics. Anytime, anywhere and for free.

What, Another Dashboard?

We are now so used to seeing dashboards, that we forget Business Analysis, Business Analytics and Business Intelligence are simply different facets of the same underlying ‘movement’. To visualise. To explore. To discover.

And as the Internet of Things (IoT) brings more intelligence to more devices which pervade invisibly into every aspect of our lives, Business Analysts will need to factor their existence into the Use Cases that drive business today:-

  • Smart shelves in supermarkets that reduce understocking by comparing the measured popularity of items to the sales figures for that item.
  • Smart boarding passes that check up on lost passengers who according to the FAA cost airlines USD 28 billion in 2018 alone.
  • Smart windows with embedded IoT sensors to measure light incident on building facades and to change the glass transparency, reducing the incoming heat that balloons the air conditioning costs in commercial buildings.

As you can guess, all this technology is going to have a major impact on people’s lives wherever we are; at home, at work or at play.

The work of the Business Analyst will be to figure out how to provide a seamless fit between the customer experience, the burgeoning IoT technologies and the continuous drive for business operational efficiency.

In the Beginning, There Was Darkness

The companies that are really driving IoT are Startups, of course.

And by Startup I mean the hungry, bootstrapped, seat-of-the-pants type companies, founded by 15-year-olds in their parent’s garage.

In fact, this has been the case since the days of Microsoft and Apple. Nothing has changed.

Recent IoT startup success stories include:-

  • Nest (bought by Google for USD 3.2 Billion, in cash)
  • Fleetmatics (bought by Verizon for USD 2.4 Billion)
  • Ring (bought by Amazon for USD 1 Billion)

The startups listed here have all shown the potential to deploy cloud-based IoT technologies that can change lives. The really interesting thing is how such tech can change the way Business Analysts view the user persona.

My User Story

Business analysis involves principally two things:-

  • Understanding the business issues of most importance (problems and opportunities).
  • Proposing changes to improve the business.

The first step remains the same, irrespective of the technologies available and involves interviewing stakeholders to understand strategic goals, business processes, use cases and a conceptual data model, culminating in a detailed statement of requirements.

It is during the second step that BAs need to map those requirements to a set of features which can be implemented within the project budget and project timescale. All this needs to be driven by the User Story.

So, when your supermarket client complains that customers cannot find nappies on the shelves because they are understocked, BAs must work with technologists to find solutions, which could include IoT-based smart shelves.

  • But how will a ‘smart shelf’ affect the customer buying experience?
  • If personalised discounts are also shown alongside the merchandise, will customers realise that certain behaviours can trigger a larger discount?
  • Will the technology drive people away because it is deemed ‘too salesy’?

Let’s take another example:

What if your airline client complains about missing passengers who delay flights and cause excessive costs and even regulatory fines?

BAs would need to bring together IT and Operations that may need to explore the benefits of smart boarding cards.

But will such devices constitute an invasion of privacy?

Should they be available on existing smartphone platforms or on a dedicated piece of hardware so you can track passengers’ location within an airport?

What will the delay be in recovering the physical hardware during boarding?

You get the picture.

It Only Gets Better

The good news for Business Analysts is that your job just got more difficult.

This protects your hard-earned degree from being superseded by AI-based software (at least for the time being).

Bringing together complex technologies is hard enough when the systems in play are primarily large-scale software apps. But when the tech involves hardware and software and changes to the customer experience, then BAs had better get their act together and up-skill.

You will need to understand what IoT is of course, but you will also need to dig into case studies on the legal ramifications of how IoT can affect everyday business scenarios.

You will also need to consider the costs, the benefits, the risks and the compliance issues in typical business scenarios, for example, a beleaguered mom dragging a screaming 4-year old round a ‘smart’ supermarket, while trying to find washing-up liquid and getting distracted by a 10% discount on shampoo which just popped up on her smartphone.

Because this stuff is already here. And it is being deployed right now.

Summing Up

Business Analysts who develop the knowledge and experience in how IoT affects customer buying journeys, customer experience and business models can stand out from the crowd and propel their careers into the future.

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Expert Interview with Neil Shorney of Navanter

Expert Interview with Neil Shorney of Navanter

“Businesses are unable to sell in a way which delights the customer due to insufficient understanding between salespeople and project managers”.

We catch up with Neil Shorney, Managing Director of Navanter Ltd., who shares with us his insights into sales and management training.

Manoj Phatak

Manoj Phatak

What is Navanter and why did you set up your company?

Navanter is a specialist consultancy working with customers who have flexible solutions to offer their clients, and often long, drawn-out sales cycles.

I have two main passions in business – Sales and Project Management. It comes from my background being a sales manager for a project management training consultancy. Many of the conversations I had with project management clients were about how their lives were made difficult by salespeople who had no understanding of what came next in the customer journey, after the sale had been made.

This lack of insight leads to dissatisfied customers, who find that their experience of the selling organisation changes dramatically once the salesperson hands off to someone else in the business.

As a result, these customers are less likely to become regular clients, and the sales team’s job ultimately becomes harder because they have to win more new business to make up for this loss.

So I set up Navanter to help my clients to break out of this vicious circle by helping them to bring sales and project management functions closer together in ultimately create more satisfied customers. Then after a couple of years working in this area, I realised two more huge benefits could come from sharing these skills – salespeople could use established project techniques to help them win bigger more strategic sales, and project managers could become more alert to new commercial opportunities once they start delivering the solution to their clients.

What excites you most when you start working with a new client?

The ability to really impact what they’re doing in a positive way, and in a way they don’t realise is possible.

There are many businesses who are good at sales and good at solution delivery, but it’s rare to find one where the two teams are sharing these vital business skills to benefit the organisation as a whole.

It’s partly lack of interest in how sales and PM skills complement each other, and often a little selfishness, particularly on the sales team’s side, about sharing their commercial skills with others.

What is the Nr 1 problem you are solving for your clients that other training providers do not?

I can’t tie that down to one, I’m afraid, because there are 3 main challenges which all stem from this lack of collaboration:

  • Businesses are unable to sell in a way which genuinely delights the customer due to insufficient understanding and appreciation between salespeople and project managers.
  • Project managers miss new business opportunities due to a lack of commercial awareness once they’re involved with the implementation of a solution.
  • Salespeople struggle to close the biggest, most complex deals because they rely too much on personality and getting the message across, yet don’t have the strategic organisational skills to manage a long sales cycle.

What trends are you seeing currently in the corporate training space?

There are trends happening now which really should have started 15 years ago – training courses are getting shorter, yet training programmes are getting longer.

People are realising that you can’t attend a 3-day training course and remember it all. We just don’t have the capacity to use everything we learn, and much of that learning gets lost.

Customers are beginning to realise this, and the programmes I’m delivering at the moment are mostly multiple one-day courses spread out across the year.

Attendees get the same knowledge as on a longer course, but it’s having a much bigger impact in the workplace because they have one day of learning, then several weeks to really integrate those skills into their roles before continuing the learning path for their next session.

The result is much stronger ROI on training.

What is the future of corporate training, given that most teams nowadays are virtual and distributed?

Digital is definitely a feature. For a long time, I’ve been shocked at how far some people will travel to attend a training course, but today’s technology allows trainers to emulate the experience of a physical training room much more effectively.

The learning can have the same impact delivered in a live online environment if the trainer is skilled in this format. There will always be a requirement for face-to-face training, because it’s hard to create the same relationships and networking in an online environment, but I see it becoming less important in the overall training landscape.

I remain unconvinced by the effectiveness of self-paced virtual learning. When I take courses in that format myself, I really struggle with motivation, and the lack of interaction means a poorer learning experience.

But who knows… with the rapid development of AI, perhaps that will change?

Bio

What is Navanter and why did you set up your company? Navanter is a specialist consultancy working with customers who have flexible solutions to offer their clients, and often long, drawn-out sales cycles. I have two main passions in business - Sales and Project Management. It comes from my background being a sales manager for a project management training consultancy. Many of the conversations I had with project management clients were about how their lives were made difficult by salespeople who had no understanding of what came next in the customer journey, after the sale had been made. This lack of insight leads to dissatisfied customers, who find that their experience of the selling organisation changes dramatically once the salesperson hands off to someone else in the business. As a result, these customers are less likely to become regular clients, and the sales team's job ultimately becomes harder because they have to win more new business to make up for this loss. So I set up Navanter to help my clients to break out of this vicious circle by helping them to bring sales and project management functions closer together in ultimately create more satisfied customers. Then after a couple of years working in this area, I realised two more huge benefits could come from sharing these skills – salespeople could use established project techniques to help them win bigger more strategic sales, and project managers could become more alert to new commercial opportunities once they start delivering the solution to their clients. What excites you most when you start working with a new client? The ability to really impact what they're doing in a positive way, and in a way they don't realise is possible. There are many businesses who are good at sales and good at solution delivery, but it's rare to find one where the two teams are sharing these vital business skills to benefit the organisation as a whole. It's partly lack of interest in how sales and PM skills complement each other, and often a little selfishness, particularly on the sales team's side, about sharing their commercial skills with others. What is the Nr 1 problem you are solving for your clients that other training providers do not? I can't tie that down to one, I'm afraid, because there are 3 main challenges which all stem from this lack of collaboration: Businesses are unable to sell in a way which genuinely delights the customer due to insufficient understanding and appreciation between salespeople and project managers. Project managers miss new business opportunities due to a lack of commercial awareness once they’re involved with the implementation of a solution. Salespeople struggle to close the biggest, most complex deals because they rely too much on personality and getting the message across, yet don’t have the strategic organisational skills to manage a long sales cycle. What trends are you seeing currently in the corporate training space? There are trends happening now which really should have started 15 years ago – training courses are getting shorter, yet training programmes are getting longer. People are realising that you can’t attend a 3-day training course and remember it all. We just don’t have the capacity to use everything we learn, and much of that learning gets lost. Customers are beginning to realise this, and the programmes I’m delivering at the moment are mostly multiple one-day courses spread out across the year. Attendees get the same knowledge as on a longer course, but it’s having a much bigger impact in the workplace because they have one day of learning, then several weeks to really integrate those skills into their roles before continuing the learning path for their next session. The result is much stronger ROI on training. What is the future of corporate training, given that most teams nowadays are virtual and distributed? Digital is definitely a feature. For a long time, I’ve been shocked at how far some people will travel to attend a training course, but today’s technology allows trainers to emulate the experience of a physical training room much more effectively. The learning can have the same impact delivered in a live online environment if the trainer is skilled in this format. There will always be a requirement for face-to-face training, because it’s hard to create the same relationships and networking in an online environment, but I see it becoming less important in the overall training landscape. I remain unconvinced by the effectiveness of self-paced virtual learning. When I take courses in that format myself, I really struggle with motivation, and the lack of interaction means a poorer learning experience. But who knows… with the rapid development of AI, perhaps that will change? Bio After gaining a music degree from the University of London, Neil Shorney decided that becoming the next Julian Lloyd Webber or Brian May was too much effort, so got a job as an Energy Broker. After working briefly in IT sales, he started working for ESI International – a leading global project management training consultancy. Neil began as a salesperson, and after a couple of years, he was promoted to sales manager, where he created and led an international sales team. Neil quickly developed a passion for 3 things: sales, project management, and developing others. He now runs Navanter, a specialist training consultancy based in London. During his career, Neil has trained professionals from start-ups through to major global organisations such as Shell, HSBC, Novartis and European Central Bank.

After gaining a music degree from the University of London, Neil Shorney decided that becoming the next Julian Lloyd Webber or Brian May was too much effort, so got a job as an Energy Broker. After working briefly in IT sales, he started working for ESI International – a leading global project management training consultancy. Neil began as a salesperson, and after a couple of years, he was promoted to sales manager, where he created and led an international sales team.

Neil quickly developed a passion for 3 things: sales, project management, and developing others. He now runs Navanter, a specialist training consultancy based in London.

During his career, Neil has trained professionals from start-ups through to major global organisations such as Shell, HSBC, Novartis and European Central Bank.

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Get In touch with Navanter

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gears and cogs

Expert Interview with James Towers

Expert Interview with James Towers, Consultant Systems Engineer at Scarecrow Consultants, on the differences in approach between modelling systems for engineering and business.

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Business Analysis for IoT

Business Analysts need to provide a seamless fit between customer experience, burgeoning IoT technologies and the continuous drive for business efficiency.