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Ensuring clear and comprehensive communication between IT and the business has long been a largely unachieved goal. Yet, as the need to achieve a competitive edge becomes ever more critical and also more difficult, ensuring a strong IT/business alliance can spell the difference between a company’s success or failure.

This offers two great career opportunities for those who aspire to work in IT. The first is the business analyst role. These analysts define business processes and systems, helping IT and the business to share a common language around the way systems support business services. You also have a chance to define solutions to match business needs, which may include new or modified software applications, but also could be new policies, procedures or organizational structures.

Business analysts often have a Business Administration Degree and a desire to contribute by optimizing organizations. Some may also be IT experts, but many just have a good grounding in IT, relying on relationship building with developer colleagues. This is a great place for people with superior writing and speaking skills, interest in understanding systems and enough finance to do cost/benefit analyses. Business analysis is a terrific way to jump into the IT career space without being a typical IT expert.

The second opportunity is for developers who have the interest and talent to be the IT side of the IT/business alliance. What’s particularly attractive about this role is that, while simple coding is being farmed out across the globe, the developer with a business analysis skill set will find these jobs stay closer to home.

For both career opportunities, business analysis software is available to help create documentation—yes, real, automated, up-to-date documentation—which can be used to understand existing systems, and document new systems as they are built. Online visualization allows you to see an overview of each application across systems, and then permits extensive drill down, showing you not only the transaction flow, but also the data flow. A documentation database helps in development; it can also reduce problem resolution time, point to efficiency opportunities and bridge communications across technology silos and the business world.

Check out the world of business analysis as you prepare for your first or next job.