Business Analyst jobs on the rise as UK high street struggles

Since HMV, Blockbusters, Jessops and now Republic have called in the administrators, the demand for business analysts has continued to rise sharply.

HMV was in trouble for years, because they failed to react quickly to the arrival of music downloading and internet retailing. Blockbuster were slow to respond to streaming services like Netflix and LoveFilm filling the digital space. Meanwhile Jessops suffered from a similar fate as their audience adopted Smartphones with built in cameras over digital cameras.

None of these high street giants evolved with the advancement of the internet or technology and many businesses are now recognising the need for business analysts to help them evolve in the rapidly changing market.

Recently, IT job board Technojobs reported a 9.8% rise in the number of business analyst jobs posted in January 2013, compared to January 2012. Meanwhile the demand for business analysts has contributed to a 9.4% increase in the average salary of business analyst positions, with the average salary rose from £48,677 in 2011 to £53,268 in 2012.

And similar trends were reported back in 2008 when Woolworth’s buckled under its debt and went into administration, taking a number of suppliers and other connected businesses down with it.

All of these businesses knew they were in trouble and yet they stayed the course. Quite possibly because they had passed the point of no return and were too late to keep up with changing times. And that’s precisely the purpose of employing a business analyst.

Often referred to as a BA, a business analyst assesses the existing organisation and design of systems, businesses and departments, their relation to the markets, consumer trends and many other factors to determine future profitability.

They put all of this information into a data base, using a number of advanced analytics tools like Prince2 or Scrum to forecast possible outcomes and scenarios for the business moving forward, while identifying opportunities to improve efficiency and lower running costs.

While business analysts have traditionally sat within the finance and banking industry, specialist IT jobs are becoming crucial in corporate business planning.

WHSmith for example, was able to survive while other high street giants struggled by using their business intelligence to get out of the competitive CD and DVD market, and redevelop their business model in a world where online magazine subscriptions and downloadable books come straight to consumers’ eReaders.

And that’s why you’ll now find a small WHSmith store in every major airport and train station in the UK; where there is less competition and a greater impulse for customers to buy a book or magazine.

Meanwhile, Hilco has purchased £176m of HMV’s debt for £40m. The restructuring specialist has made millions by buying up the assets of failing brands including Woolworths, Habitat and Borders in the past. And it’s all thanks to their business intelligence unit made up of business analysts.

The internet and tightening living standards are creating a constantly changing market and historic business models will have to change with it or be left behind.