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What does AI mean for the consulting industry?

It’s official. AI and machine learning can no longer be disregarded as the latest business buzzwords. Far from being a passing fad, artificial intelligence is now rapidly transforming the way we live, work and do business. If you’re not already up to speed on AI and its capabilities, now’s the time to gen-up. 

As a Consultant, what exactly do you need to know about AI? How might it shape your clients’ future needs? And how could it impact your career, and the consulting industry in general?

In this blog, we’ll attempt to answer these questions, as well as addressing some common concerns that we’re hearing from our clients and candidates alike.

What are the benefits?

AI has the potential to revolutionise many industries, including consulting, through:

  • Increased efficiency: AI can automate many time-consuming tasks that are currently performed by humans, leading to increased efficiency, productivity and profitability.
  • Improved decision-making: AI can be used to analyse large amounts of data to identify patterns and trends. This information can then be used to make more informed decisions on marketing, product development and pricing.
  • Enhanced innovation: AI enables the creation of new products and services, such as virtual assistants that can provide customer service, or software that can analyse data or automate report writing. This frees up human employees to focus on more complex tasks.

It’s no surprise then that many consulting firms are starting to incorporate AI into their own business processes, as well as introducing AI to their portfolio of client services.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Security: AI systems can be hacked, which could lead to the theft of data or the manipulation of AI systems.

  • Bias: AI systems are trained on data, and if the original data is biased or flawed, the AI system and its outputs will also be flawed.

However, chief among the concerns regarding the evolution of AI is the potential for job displacement. Understandably, many people, including Consultants, are concerned that artificial intelligence could replace human jobs as businesses become increasingly reliant on it.

How can you prepare for AI?

As artificial intelligence continues to develop, how can you prepare for it, and position your consultancy to ensure your services remain relevant and sought after?

  • Upskill: You need to stay ahead of the curve, and that means learning about AI technology and how it can improve your services and add value to your clients.
  • Collaborate: consider strategic relationships with AI developers and digital transformation experts, who can help you to create new products and services that can benefit your clients.
  • Innovate: like it or not, the AI age is here, and if you don’t embrace it, you’ll be left behind. Focus on ways to use AI to innovate and enhance your business processes. By automating certain time-consuming tasks, AI enables you to focus on higher-value work, such as developing relationships and providing strategic advice.
  • Communicate: define your USPs, and make sure your existing and potential clients know what you bring to the table – namely, the uniquely human ability to empathise, reflect, inspire and lead. 

What will AI mean for your career?

At Ascent, we’ve spent over 10 years working with firms across the globe, to recruit the most talented consultants into roles at all levels. Here’s our take on the likely impact of AI on jobs.

Consulting, by nature, is a creative role. It requires innovative, fresh thinking, highly developed problem-solving skills, and the ability to adapt to complex, changing situations. More than that, it requires finely tuned communication and people skills. Negotiation, influencing and diplomacy are all integral parts of the day job.

While an AI system may be able to generate reports, predict customer behaviour and create financial models, clients hire outside experts for the uniquely human skills that even the most sophisticated machine will never be able to fully replicate.

At worst, we may see some analytical roles being replaced by AI, but delivering insight, making judgement calls and developing customer-centric solutions based on that analysis will always require human intervention.

So to future proof your career, you’ll want to focus on building those uniquely human skills, while utilising AI to optimise those parts of your role that take your time away from the human value adds. 

For example, if you’re used to spending hours developing complex excel formulas, why not learn how AI tools like ChatGPT can do this for you. This will shave precious hours off your data analysis, giving you back time to focus on developing insights from the data, strategising the solutions and working with your clients to help them achieve their business goals.

If you’re worried that your role is one that could be at risk due to AI, then start to look for projects that help you build those human skills and focus on influencing stakeholders, negotiating with suppliers or leading teams. These are the skills that will help you build a future proof consulting career.

If you want to find out what consultancies are looking for right now when it comes to skills, or how you can refocus your career to build the skills you need to land your dream consulting role, then get in touch with the team. 

Or, if you're looking for a quality recruitment partner to find your next role or want to understand more about our process, just contact us. We're ready to start your job search today. You can also take a look at our latest consulting jobs.

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