The nature of IT is changing. Most likely, it's always been evolving, but there was a time when IT consultants supported business strategies without being part of the decision-making process — business analysts took care of that.
A business analyst focuses on business strategy. They study the day-to-day processes and adapt policies so that everyone can do their jobs. Their mission is to find the most efficient and effective means of meeting business goals. IT professionals provide the technical solutions to fulfill those goals. While the two areas work together, they specialize in goals and functionality.
The key difference between the two areas seems to be how they implement their expertise: Business analysts typically study and promote processes, while IT professionals have a more hands-on role. Now, the two areas are integrating, and IT professionals must adapt.
The trends... they are a changing...
IT professionals and business analysts are assuming both roles in order to respond more quickly and efficiently. For instance, an IT professional who is responsible for business goals as well as technical solutions will be more sensitive to deadlines and budgets. It makes good sense that with a better understanding of the business and a responsibility to that business, any role will function better. The more an IT professional understands the business they're supporting, the better able they are to guide projects to a successful outcome.
IT consultants are definitely being challenged as these two roles morph because you're not part of your clients' executive hierarchies. However, the day is coming when recommending and implementing technical solutions won't be enough to keep you competitive. How will you adapt?
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.