Will a robot replace the role of a Business Analyst?
I recently read an article by the Palmer Group about the different job roles they believe will “soon” be replaced by robots. They mentioned roles such as Accountants being replaced by robots and also middle management within corporate institutions (specifically referring to people who really just produce reports and then communicate that to the next level of management). They said that the big four Accountancy firms are soon to be disrupted by this fact and they will therefore be re-inventing their business models to try and find a different way to add value beyond what the robots will start doing on their behalf.
Surely this is just science fiction?
For many people the idea of robots replacing our roles is still quite a far-fetched notion and something they consider to be sometime in the far future and therefore not something that will affect them personally. They may even think that it is only ‘in the movies’ and not reality at all. I have always been one of those people…until reading a bit more widely and opening my eyes a little more in his area of technology. I now believe that these types of changes are closer than we think and worth our consideration.
We all know that robots have in many cases already replaced the role of factory skilled workers in the manufacturing industry and these people have been displaced and left to find alternative careers to make a living….are we next?
So where does this leave the role of the Business Analyst?
Ever since I read about middle management and accountancy type roles being replaced by robots, I started thinking about our roles as Business Analysts.
What would happen to us if our stakeholders were now robots? This brought me to the fundamental thought of ‘why’ does the business need business analysts in the first place? The answer: To help deal with inefficiencies.
As long as the business is run by people (and not by robots), who will come up with what they believe they need in a solution, what they believe might be a business need and where they add a little self-interest to the mix, we will remain in our roles as Business Analysts. However, the moment our stakeholders are replaced by efficient robots that make their decisions purely based on logic, efficiency and optimal performance, we will sadly not be required anymore.
Does this mean that robots will replace our roles?
The direct answer is ‘no’, however, the indirect answer is ‘yes’. The reality is that our roles will be obsolete and there will be no need for a robot to take over being a business analyst. The business stakeholders will be robots and therefore never need the role of a Business Analyst simply because they are programmed to be a 100% efficient.
We are masters at distilling, analyzing and portraying business needs into what we believe to be solutions to improve business efficiency on behalf of and in collaboration with our business stakeholders. If our business stakeholders are robots, they will not need a person to extract information from them to determine what might be a good business solution to a business problem – they simply won’t have any inefficiency.
Are there roles that robots can’t replace?
Sure, there will be a need for people in the next generation of business but exactly what and where that will be, I don’t know. Unfortunately, because our roles are so closely aligned with improving inefficiencies in the business, it is now only a matter of time when we will no longer be needed.
How much time? Well, probably at least 30 years? But who knows, perhaps you have a view?
So, for as long as we have ‘warm bodies’ in our stakeholder’s offices, we are needed, wanted and extremely valuable resources to the organization. We can even go as far as saying that we are the pre-cursor to the robots taking over (with the essential difference of being warm and wonderful people)! The moment those guys take over, we will have to go sit on a beach and enjoy the sunshine every day!