Will AI Ever Replace Consultants?
Along with the fast-paced requirements of the digital era (and a little nudge from a global pandemic ), the world of AI has been growing faster than you can say “new variant”. And although AI in consulting is nothing new, it’s definitely become one of the more forced trends in consulting. Consultants themselves include and recommend all sorts of AI solutions to businesses themselves. However, the fear is always there that AI replaces jobs – even consultants themselves. This fear has been expressed by consultants since 2017, but is there any merit in this concern?
What does AI have to do with consulting?
It’s hard to grasp how AI will completely replace consultants (with most probably envisioning a murderous robot and Will Smith). But AI is much more complicated than that. It’s essentially trying to replicate the intelligence of a living being as a computer system/program. AI and consulting meet where both can be used to improve an organization’s performance. And as for the rest of the daily consulting duties? AI in consulting can be used for any project that requires a lot of data and analysis.
So what about the fear that AI replaces jobs?
Is AI able to do certain things much faster and more efficiently than its human counterpart? Absolutely. Does it mean that human consultants will become obsolete? Absolutely not. The one thing that we want to highlight in this article is that the concern regarding AI taking over jobs. It should be replaced with excitement over AI taking over certain tasks. AI in consulting is not a stand-alone operation. AI in consulting goes hand in hand with the consultants themselves. There are a myriad of things AI cannot replace when it comes to consultants:
As AI technology currently stands, there is no way for others to truly relate and build any kind of business relationship with an AI computer system. Things such as persuading someone to go along with certain recommendations, pitching an idea, making a sale, connecting over certain topics – these are all things that AI is incapable of doing.
Real knowledge extends far across the borders of data input. This is something that the banking industry has been experiencing first-hand when it comes to AI technology. In the past, clients had a real relationship with their bank manager. Home loans, business loans and personal loans were dealt with by appointment. During this appointment the client (whom the manager knew by that time) put forth their case/business plan/conundrum. The manager would approve a loan based on a variety of merits: the client’s track record, the viability of the business plan, the client’s general disposition & reputation etc.
Many very successful businesses that are still around today started that way. But, as we can expect, the capacity in terms of the bank manager’s time became an issue and as technology entered the arena, the banking industry steadily handed over these responsibilities to computers. Today you apply for a loan or a mortgage online with absolutely no human intervention and by doing a few simple math calculations with certain information pulled from a variety of sources, the computer system makes the call whether you’re approved or not. The problem with this is that they’ve lost the context. Many great business ideas never get to see the light of day and the computer has absolutely no regards for whether you’ll be receiving a large amount of money in the next couple of days to pay off the personal loan in full.
Reputation & Trust
Many, especially the older generation that still sits at the head of boards and boardrooms, do not quite understand technology and therefore do not trust it. Many successful consultancy firms have also built up a stellar reputation over decades. New AI tech simply cannot compete with that. As far as reputation and trust is concerned, it’s still Consultants – 1, AI – 0.
The benefits of AI
There is a very good reason that using AI is one of the latest trends in consulting. In fact, many consulting firms have already embraced all that AI has to offer in the consulting world. AI consulting firms operates where they use both the USP’s of consultants along with the perks of AI technology to back them up. Some of these benefits include:
Remember the bank manager conundrum we spoke about earlier? Well, the one problem AI definitely solved was the capacity issue. Unlike the banking industry, AI automation in the consulting world is a bit more positive. Consultants can have automated mails, chat bots, surveys etc. to take care of the basic admin as well as gather all the necessary information needed to assist a client. AI takes care of the nitty gritty so the consultants can focus on the bigger picture and the things that really matter.