The article “The End of Management Consulting as We Know it?” published in the Management Consulting journal, highlighted the increased client needs triggered by the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) as a competitive advantage and the risks represented by start-ups, especially those that adopt AI for clients and consultancy.
There is a need for consulting companies to embrace AI and build relationships with AI-focused start-ups based on the clients’ requirements to transform their operations, such as real-time decision-making, cost reduction, process optimisation, streamlining operations and strategy development. AI provides insights that enable the strategy to be adapted rapidly, and AI can assist consultants in implementing solutions proposed to clients more efficiently.
Important insights on how companies can manage the disruptive impact of AI successfully can be found in Noel Davidson’s book “Artificial Intelligence For Business- Your Next Business -Virtual Assistant.”
The first chapter to consider is “AI for Business - Your Next Virtual Consultant”. The author remarks that AI systems can quickly process massive data sets and derive insight from them. In addition, it can produce patterns or correlations such as response times and customer satisfaction levels or create opportunities within a business that may otherwise take much longer to identify (and which would take consultants much longer to spot without AI). AI can support organisations’ strategic decision-making by simulating potential outcomes based on past data and predictive models, and by offering insight into possible scenarios, and using historical sales figures, economic indicators, while mitigating risks. In other words, AI could forecast real-time market trends accurately.
Another element to be considered is pattern recognition. It goes beyond structured data, like text or images. Through natural language processing and computer vision techniques, AI can quickly evaluate customer reviews or social media posts for targets’ sentiment analysis or examine product images to conduct quality assurance tasks.
However, even though AI offers many advantages, traditional consultants will continue to play an essential role. AI cannot understand complex situations, decipher unclear information, or make judgments that differ from previously learned (ML) patterns. On the other hand, traditional consulting excels at areas requiring understanding a company’s intangible factors like, for example, context, culture, ethics, and any ambiguities inherent to its strategies. Moreover, traditional consultants possess unique capabilities, such as the ability to build relationships quickly by interpreting and understanding people’s emotions and needs - something AI systems cannot replicate.
Consequently, ethics are vital for the responsible use of AI systems. Their outputs can be understood and clarified to generate more accurate insights; however, it essential for companies to ensure their ethical management and proper deployment.
Another chapter, “Implementing AI in Your Business,” focuses on the need to devise an AI implementation strategy in companies. The author suggests that many aspects of implementation, from assessing business needs and organisational and technical capabilities through to continuous improvements in order to overcome any implementation challenges, are all processes that have already been used within IT, ERP and, recently, digital transformation. Data quality issues arising in AI implementation may be the only major exception. So is AI implementation a new opportunity for consultants?
AI can be an excellent consulting partner or resource for companies and they can work synergistically to achieve maximum effect. AI provides data-driven insights, while traditional consultants possess context knowledge and interpretative abilities; each brings something unique to the client.
It looks like AI is going to revolutionise management consulting in ways that cannot yet be predicted; its effects could lead consultancies to move away from integrated models toward customised service offerings and consulting firms might need to adopt AI if they wish to remain viable as a result of AI’s increased role as an advisor. In addition, sharing expertise and knowledge of how to implement this new technology into a business could create a specialised service for clients. Consultancy firms wanting to stay competitive and create a sustainable future in the new AI-impacted world of work should continue to adapt accordingly.