Advent of the Business Technologist

, Opinions, Tech

The tech revolution has caused several traditional roles to evolve and assume new dimensions and responsibilities in recent years. One such role is that of the Business Analyst (BA). Larger multinational companies were the original movers behind the creation of this unique role. All these organisations inevitably had one thing in common – meticulously planned and detailed organisation structures. In such an environment, BAs were tasked with continuously improving systems and processes while driving IT adoption across the board to govern the same.

The recent waves of start-ups resulted in the organic transformation of this traditionally vertical-based specialist into that of cross-functional professional with the expectation of being able to deliver on all fronts, cutting across business verticals. The prominence and necessity of such a role to drive strategic, tactical and operational excellence in the start-up environment, is now seen as more of a necessity than a luxury. These individuals, with evolved professional capabilities, are akin to the ‘Smart Creative’ that Google has postulated. They are hands on, driven by data analytics and are known to bring a fresh perspective to the table, consequently making them one of the most sought after employees in the market.

The advent of the Business Technologist has been triggered by the rise of sophisticated challenges that require a nimble response mechanism from a technological perspective. Businesses are constantly attempting to overcome new challenges as they arise. Technology, which is advancing at an exponential rate, becomes the perfect vehicle to address these challenges. Establishing a robust response mechanism to resolve them prepares the organisation to swiftly move on to the next challenge. Business technologists often become the architects and propagators of this change within organisations.

The stark contrast between the BA and the BT is highlighted in the overall responsibilities assumed by them. For instance, BAs are responsible for overseeing a process and ensuring that they optimise it to a state of best practice. BTs on the other hand are in a position to innovate and redesign the underlying process itself. This redesign can be caused by a variety of reasons, ranging from lack of IT adoption, the existence of better delivery models, to uneconomic business practices. It can even be a consequence of the process not being in line with the overall strategy of the organisation. Such is the liberty that is given to the BT.

The emergence of this professional leads us to the conclusion that success of technology does not depend merely on its adoption – it is more dependent on understanding the implications of its deployment in the most complex business environments. All this while ensuring that maximum value is being derived from these potentially capital intensive technology ‘solutions’. One may argue that this is the responsibility of the CIO or her team – someone whose role in the organisation is to work primarily on strategy or the execution of technology. However, given the dynamic nature of roles and responsibilities in the modern-day work environment, organisations must have BTs spread across business functions, as well as lines of business. The failure to do so is likely to result in sub-optimal efficiencies.

Much like the ‘rise’ of the ‘Business Analyst’, which was a direct consequence of the tech revolution, the age of the start-up has led to the advent of the Business Technologist. Sure, it’s not how you can expect anyone to introduce themselves in a corporate context. As a matter of fact, until a few years ago, the BT didn’t even exist. Today we can go ahead and safely say that such individuals must be well versed in a variety of disciplines – ranging from operations, business strategy, unit economics and talent development – to core technical areas such as IT, engineering architecture and others.

This distinctive role can also be compared to that of an in-house management consultant. The key difference between the two professionals is that the business technologists are not afraid to roll-up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They will not stop at a prescriptive solution, but will get knee deep in the problem while attempting to solve it. The quicker the organisations embrace this evolved being, the faster these organisations can become flagbearers of the new phase of the technological revolution.

Arjun Nair

Arjun has a deep understanding of the Indian SME universe as a consequence of having dealt with this juggernaut for the last 5 years. Starting off his career at Tally, where he gained insight into this industry in a variety of areas including IT adoption, overall size of universe, etc. He now spends his days at Capital Float leveraging this information to increase customer acquisition. True to the article, he also spends his time ensuring cross functional synergy across functions in the organisation. From enabling the SME universe with IT at Tally he now wishes to empower them through financial inclusion.

Arjun is a Business Technologist at Capital Float