I know most of the people in our community would have given a thought to this question. Business analyst should be domain expert or a generalist? I was caught up in a similar dilemma some time back and brainstormed with a lot of people having diverse experiences in the industry. Here’s my take on the question. It’s dependent on various factors :
Industry in which you are working
I think being a domain expert might work out as the best solution in primary economic sectors like mining, farming etc. The same would work out in the secondary economic sectors like construction, manufacturing etc and may be in tertiary economic sectors like distribution of manufactured goods. The area of concern is the newly formed industry a.k.a quaternary economic sector which deals with technological research, design and development such as computer programming, and biochemistry. I think a good combination of generalist BA’s and domain experts would work out the best in this case. Also, diving more into the IT industry, it’s dependent on the type of IT company one belongs to. For e.g. Product development companies would rather have domain experts as the product they are developing would serve a specific industry sector, IT Services companies would have more of generalists as they have varying demands from their clients and they cannot just hire domain experts and wait until they get a suitable assignment. Again the solution I proposed (having right mix of domain experts/generalists looks promising in this case).
At the end, the decision to become a domain expert or a generalist is left to an individual.
Though I do not have much to say about the pros and cons of each.. just wanted to bring up this thing once again with the broader community and get more opinions!!