Businesses are often about abstract, intangible things.  Not always, of course.  I mean there is such a thing as product manufacturing and industrial engineering and warehousing and such.  Those are very tangible business operations. 


But a lot of business depends on understanding things you can’t get your hands on.  Money, for one thing.  And data.  And process.  Even ideas, invention. 


Consider how, for example, software is developed to perform a particular job function.


Have you ever been to a restaurant where the waitress took your order on a handheld device?  I don’t mean a notepad with a pen, not that kind of handheld device.  I mean something about the size of an iPhone.  She taps in your order—halibut fish sandwich with a side salad, ranch dressing—and as soon as she does, it appears on a screen in the kitchen—halibut fish sandwich, side salad, ranch—and the food prep guys get to work on it.  They key in when it’s done, which immediately appears on your waitress’s handheld, and she hops back to the pick-up window to get your order.


How do you suppose that comes into being, that little piece of equipment your waitress now can’t live without?  It comes into being because someone who has really good analytical abilities was able to examine and decompose and finally translate the restaurant job processes into material that technology developers could use to design a new product.


That’s what a Business Analyst does, and believe me it’s a highly prized skill that not many people are good at.  People who are good at this don’t mind dealing with the abstract.  They’re comfortable with ambiguity, shades of gray rather than black and white.  They’re willing not only to analyze a situation or event but to write about it, and then to revise what’s written as information improves.


Analysis and writing.  You, as an English major, you haven’t studied anything like that in your academic career, have you?


In my experience, the best business analysts have Humanities educations.  Among the best business analysts I, personally, have worked with are a Spanish major, a History major and someone who majored in Music performance.  Maybe Music performance is a fine art, and not one of the Humanities—I’m not sure—but even if it isn’t, it’s still a far cry from Computer Science and the College of Business.


If you can examine, analyze, de-compose, organize and write, this might be a great place to start your career in business. 


Then you could also stop answering that pesky question, “What do you want to do with your major?”



One thought on “Business Analysis and YOU

  1. Hi Susan,

    I just stumbled upon this blog entry about business analysis. I’ve never thought about an English major moving directly to business analysis but, I guess, why not?

    But your comment is very true: “If you can examine, analyze, de-compose, organize and write, this might be a great place to start your career in business. ”

    Now, more than ever, businesses are looking to improve the bottom line (increase revenue and decrease cost) and the business analyst’s role is to help solve such problem.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    – Adrian

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