Saratoga Interviews Ryan Folster, Conference Chair of the 2016 Business Analysis Summit

  1. ‘Business Analysis Rising’ is the theme of this year’s summit. Does this reflect the growth of business analysis in South Africa?

Most certainly. The theme for 2015 was ‘Pushing the Boundaries’, which essentially encouraged the modern business analyst to focus on taking their role in an organisation beyond being considered a documenter of change.

Business and industry are realising that in order to thrive in a world where change is a necessity they need individuals to champion and direct this change, to ensure organisations disrupt and are not disrupted.

I believe that business analysis is on the verge of a new dawn, a time where the profession has evolved to a point where its true value is starting to be appreciated. The potential of business analysis to grow is infinite and it takes a brave few to step up to the challenge and lead the community forward.

  1. Why do you believe it’s important for analysts to attend industry events and conferences such as the BA Summit?

Beyond watching a presentation or attending a workshop value is derived from corridor debates, lunch time discussions and creating connections that extend beyond the event. I personally look forward to this aspect of the summit and see it as a platform to develop my career and build on my ability to truly add value to projects that I am part of.

The focus of the summit is to bring the community together to learn, develop and discuss all things business analysis. A conference would view a presentation as a one directional transfer of knowledge, a summit looks at a presentation as the start of a conversation that continues beyond its delivery.

  1. How has the conference evolved in 2016, what new conference elements can attendees look forward to?

The conference theme is not only symbolic of the business analysis industry at large but also of the change the conference has undergone. From branding and design, websites and mobile apps to 5 star facilities, the conference this year is sending a message to all business analysts – stand up and show the world who you are because this is not a profession to take lightly.

In addition to the three conference tracks we have added two new innovative tracks giving delegates the choice between different items all happening at the same time.

The first track is an Agile Open Jam. These ‘unconference’ sessions are informal and the topics are not set up front. The topics are decided by the delegates and the sessions are facilitated by experienced Agile Practitioners.

The second track is filled with lightning talks which are presented in a style similar to TED talks and will last 10 minutes each. Sponsors are actively involved in these sessions and are providing speakers that go beyond traditional business analysis content. Unique perspectives will be shared about topics such as Business Intelligence, Digital Transformation and Security.

This track also sees another first, the launch of the 2016 Inter-View Report. The third edition of this key industry publication will be launched to the public alongside a set of lightning talks from individuals featured in the publication.

  1. With a packed two-day schedule of industry leaders sharing their insights, what are some of the highlights attendees can look forward to?

We have a phenomenal set of Keynote presenters, who for the first time are all South Africans who understand the unique problems and solutions in our local context. The opening Keynote will be presented by Mohamed Bray from Saratoga. Mohamed has been involved in previous conferences and was voted as a top presenter year on year by previous delegates.

Vusi Thembekwayo who has been voted as one of the top 10 speakers in the world with endorsements from the likes of Nelson Mandela, will also be presenting at the conference. Two Keynote presenters also not to be missed are Themba Boloyi from Discovery and Alex Noel from FTI.

The conference has an array of international speakers from the UK, USA, Canada, Zimbabwe, Slovenia, India as well as the UAE. These speakers are all respected industry professionals and sought after at industry conferences around the world.

Representation from all corners of the profession including government, large corporates, small enterprises and respected practitioners provides diverse content to attendees. Given the abundance of content I would advise delegates to make use of the new mobile app to plan their schedules before attending to ensure they get the most out of the summit.

  1. Besides the speakers, the conference also offers pre-conference workshops, an exhibition and the Shebeen. How does all these elements add to the attendees overall experience?

Workshops allow delegates time to absorb and learn new techniques in an interactive way. In these half day workshop some amazing facilitators will be discussing everything from context diagrams to problem solving.

Much work has been put into enhancing the exhibition so that delegates get value from the exhibitors. There will be representation from training providers, consulting companies and product providers. This gives delegates an opportunity to explore the industry and to have discussions with vendors and industry leaders.

Utilising new and innovative venues, such as the Shebeen for the lighting talks, breaks up the monotony of the conference and enables innovative thinking.

We are hoping that the new formats and venues bring a breath of fresh air. One thing is for sure, Business Analysis Summit is going to be the business analysis event of the year.

For more information about the 2016 BA Summit visit