Where Are All The Linux Business Analysts?
Before the advent of widespread Linux deployments, there were people in Information Technology known as Business Analysts.
These people were tasked with figuring out how to implement technology that improved a company's business processes. They interviewed users, pulled requirements together, helped evaluate current technology solutions, created project plans, and made recommendations. They also coordinated meetings, patched up relationships, and reassured the Quality people. It was a complicated and demanding job. It required good organization, a knowledge of current solutions, intimate understanding of the company's business, and a healthy dose of political acumen. They lived in the Unix, Windows, and Big Iron database worlds. Usually they were more business than technology oriented.
Where are all the Linux-oriented Business Analysts?
Could it be that the Linux integrators have been absorbed the Business Analyst function into their technology/project manager ranks? Maybe Linux-oriented integrators are so far above the run-of-the-mill IT professional that they instinctively understand a client's business, as well as what technology will maximize their operating efficiency and how to put it successfully in place. Most of the professional Linux integrators I know are guru-level people, so this might be the case.
Could it be that Linux has been accepted into the Enterprise well enough, that resident Business Analysts have been able to evaluate options and help recommend Linux system/applications that satisfy requirements? Considering the learning curve and breadth of Linux "solutions," this seems a bit unlikely.
Given the do-it-yourself nature of Linux and Open Source Software, it could possibly be that the Linux integrator crowd, both enterprise and third party, just dives right in and installs things. They don't need no stinking requirements. They don't need a long drawn out, formalized plan from an IT program office to put a solution in place. Again, many of the Linux gurus I've known could possibly pull off a "just dive in and get it done" style of system integration. Running project this way probably makes CIOs pretty nervous.
Maybe organizations just don't have enough patience (or budget) to have dedicated people that find out what a user wants, pull together the requirements, and then shepherd the project through to completion. This is especially true in the small and medium sized businesses.
I'm starting to think that not having regular formalized integration methods and someone coordinating users, the solution provider, and the management might actually be slowing the acceptance of Linux into businesses. Organizations love predictability, bureaucracy, and a paper trail.
Hey, maybe I should put together a series of how-to articles and seminars specifically geared for the Linux Business Analyst.
Rob Reilly is a consultant, writer and trend spotter, specializing in portable and business oriented Linux computing. He is also a contributing editor for LinuxToday.