The evolution of business analysis in South Africa

Five questions with Mohamed Bray, Engagements and Practice Manager at Saratoga.
  1. How has business analysis in South Africa changed over the last few years?

There has been a huge uptake in business analysis as a serious profession in South Africa over the last few years. The evolution of business analysis means analysts are no longer subject matter experts (SME) who are expected to do anything and everything in a typical IT delivery team. Nowadays, being a business analyst means critically analysing business needs, seeking competitive advantages through internal process refinement, enabling the digital shift and managing the ever changing tech space.

As a provider of BA services to clients and an employer of choice for professional analysts, we are seeing the huge demand for these services – at times not being able to keep up with demand. In the ever-changing business landscape projects are getting more complex and technologically mixed. This means that getting an IT project from boardroom to end user requires business analysts with specialised skills.

  1. In a recent article on Business Tech, Business Analyst (IT) was listed as one of the best degrees to study in South Africa – does this reflect the growth of business analysis and the demand for analysts?

Absolutely! There is currently a huge demand for highly qualified business analysts. The thing is, there is no real business analysis degree. The profession has strengthened by drawing from the fields of engineering, computer science, economics, finance and information systems. Either of these qualifications together with the core competencies needed as a business analyst, makes for a killer combination. These core competencies are 80% soft skills, making analysts very adaptable.

What we are seeing now is that graduates with good analytical skills coupled with organisational psychology are moulding business analysis of the future. The focus is shifting away from hard skills and instead business analysis is more about managing complex sets of users at various levels in the organisation and within project environments.

  1. Would you say South African organisations are on par with international business analysis practices or are we still catching up?

We are very much on par, if not ahead in some cases! South Africa has done very well, establishing a great business analysis community driven by the IIBA-SA chapter. The IIBA-SA Chapter has been rated as one of the best in the world and has done a great job centralising the business analyst profession and creating a real sense of community.

This coupled with a few individuals championing for the ‘rights of the business analyst’ has led to the South African business analysis scene being recognised worldwide. South Africa hosts one of the most successful business analysis conferences, with attendee figures growing each year and international speakers and delegates attending.

Another area where South Africa is leading the industry is with The Inter-View Report. This report is the only published business analysis annual publication in Africa. Frustrated by the numerous studies indicating that ‘project failure is the industry standard’, The Inter-View Report was created to address the lack of available information and to help companies leverage the true value of business analysis. No other business analysis community has done this and there is great interest from business analysis communities in Africa and internationally.

  1. Has the prevalence of Business Analysis coincided with the rapid growth of new technologies, and how has this affected Business Analysis?

I think this is where the business analysis profession may be facing its current challenges. With the tech scene exploding with start-ups, cloud, analytics and self-service platforms the business analyst role needs to adapt. Analysts need to keep up to date with technology, not just as a business enabler but also as a life enabler. It is no longer about the Internet of things, it is more like the Internet of everything. The business analyst role might soon shift from being corporate-driven to rather entrepreneurial and consultant-driven.

  1. The 2016 Business Analysis Summit has announced the theme for this year will be Business Analysis Rising (which is a play on Africa rising). Why are summits like this important to business analysts in South Africa?

In a profession that is unregulated, having a yearly gathering to discuss all things business analysis helps to self-regulate and self-organise our industry. It brings together both like-minded individuals and those brave enough to challenge the status quo, creating an opportunity to debate and discuss business analysis. The summit gives business analysts the opportunity to network, test our theories, share our war stories, do business, grow brands and at the end of it all to have a good time.


Mohamed Bray is the Engagements and Practice Manager at Saratoga and will be presenting the opening keynote at the 2016 Business Analysis Summit.

For more insights from Mohamed, connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Interested in The Inter-View report? Find our more here.