The Role of Digitalization and AI in Consulting

The use of Artificial Intelligence in consulting is not something new. It only feels new because of the sudden surge in mainstream popularity of ChatGPT, and the subsequent democratization of access to AI tools – that happened over 2022 and 2023. AI and its related concepts have been cooking on the back burner for a good 2 decades – only that its time has now come finally.

What has really ticked in favor of AI is the 2 things – the public availability of large-scale data that reflects a large variety of trends, and the 100x increase in processing capacities everywhere in the world. Suddenly, things like running dictation fully on your mobile seem a lot more possible. As technology and processing power become more and more accessible, the scope of digital and AI solutions will keep expanding. And so will the scope of decision-making using those solutions. 

The influence of these technological advancements is profoundly felt across the business spectrum, revolutionizing sectors from healthcare to finance. Once data reached a critical mass, the advent of AI was a given. Organizations today are also harnessing the power of AI and leveraging their data, to predict customer behavior, personalize marketing strategies, and drive innovation. Digitalization has become the backbone of modern enterprise, with AI proving to be the nitro-boost in a rapidly evolving digital world.

In consulting, the implications of digitalization and AI are particularly significant. Consulting firms are tapping into these technologies to stay ahead of the curve in decoding complex business decisions and deliver insights & solutions at unprecedented speeds. The integration of AI tools in consulting practices is not just enhancing the efficiency of existing services but is also creating new avenues for value addition and strategic advice. The traditional models of problem-solving are being challenged by AI's predictive prowess and the real-time analytical capabilities afforded by digitalization. This article will explore how the fusion of AI and digitalization is reshaping the consulting landscape, setting the stage for a future where technology and human expertise coalesce to drive progress and profitability.

Types Of AI Relevant For Consulting

Before we understand the implications of AI in Consulting, let us understand the differences in AI terms that we see around us:

Just AI

Artificial Intelligence, as the term, has been around for quite a while now. Standard-issue AI typically consists of practices like machine-learning, deep-learning, big-data analysis, etc. These techniques enable pattern-recognition in large swathes of data and enable large organizations to take more informed decisions. Consulting firms have been at the forefront of enabling these tools for businesses for more than a decade. Performing big-data analysis and even deploying custom solutions for real-time insight generation – have all been enabled by consulting firms. The outcome has been more than beneficial for the clients. Large companies have been able to leverage AI on their large datasets to better predict customer behavior, reduce wastage, improve pricing, improve supply-chain, and many other such benefits.

Generative AI (Gen AI)

In the last 2 years, this specialized branch of AI has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. Do note that it is only a small subset of the various capabilities of AI solutions. Gen AI helps create text, images, or other forms of content based on an input request. A Gen AI system is trained on large amounts of text and other mediums that help create new content. Gen AI is essentially relying on the premise that much of the content that is created, often contains repeatable patterns of information – and these repeatable patterns can be recombined to create new content that accelerates generation of further content.

In today’s time, most of AI actually happens to be Gen AI. Businesses and individuals are using it left, right, and center in various aspects of their activities. Consulting – being an industry that usually rides the front of the wave – has wholeheartedly adopted Gen AI, and are helping their clients adopt it too.

Current State Of Gen AI In Businesses Across The World

Let us see a small sample of use-cases of Gen AI in today’s business world. You will see that all kinds of businesses are doing all kinds of things with Gen AI – and we have just begun. Gen AI (Gen AI) is revolutionizing industries by automating and enhancing creative processes, content generation, and data analysis across a broad spectrum of applications. Here’s how it's changing the game:

gen-ai-in-business

Content and creative writing:
Gen AI tools like ChatGPT and Gemini are revolutionizing content creation across businesses. They're enabling the rapid production of articles, blogs, reports, and even assisting authors in producing literary works. This automation speeds up the creation process while allowing humans to refine and inject creativity, significantly lowering costs and time-to-market.

Software and game development:
In the tech realm, Gen AI is a game-changer for coding and game creation. Programmers leverage AI to generate code snippets, debug, and test code more efficiently. Similarly, game developers use AI to create dynamic narratives and responsive game environments, enhancing the gaming experience.

Art, music and video production:
The art world sees Gen AI as a new frontier for creativity. Digital artists and musicians are beginning to use Gen AI to produce new art, design, and music elements and are pushing the boundaries of traditional creativity with tools like Dall-E and MidJourney. Image editing has shifted into a new gear with Gen AI through new features in software that were not possible just a year ago. Video producers are also utilizing AI to automate and speed-up the video editing process. And newly announced tool Sora is looking poised to revolutionize video generation as well.

Design and visualization:
Gen AI is making significant strides in product design, architecture, and interior design, offering innovative solutions and visualizations that were previously unattainable. These tools help professionals in fashion, automotive, and architecture to conceptualize and visualize new designs swiftly.

Market insights and financial analysis:
Gen AI tools are adept at sifting through market data and financial information, offering businesses insights for product development and investment decisions. Analysis that would take significant setup time and analysis complexity can now be automated and streamlined through Gen AI conducting market research and financial analysis with a level of depth and speed unmatched by human efforts.

Enhancing communication:
Tools like Microsoft Copilot are revolutionizing communication at the workplace. From summarizing your emails, writing emails for you, and even creating documents & slides – Gen AI tools look to streamline workplace communication, reduce burden on humans, and at the same time enhance overall effectiveness.

Customer interaction: Gen AI is redefining customer service through chatbots and virtual assistants that offer more natural dialogues, lesser canned responses, and possibilities of better call-to-action for CRM systems that can improve overall customer experience. It's also employed in sentiment analysis to gauge customer feedback, enabling businesses to tailor their products and services more effectively.

 

This sweeping transformation brought about by Gen AI across industries signifies a paradigm shift. It highlights AI's role as a catalyst for innovation, enabling professionals to focus on strategic and creative tasks by automating routine operations and analyses. As Gen AI continues to evolve, its integration into various sectors will further redefine productivity, creativity, and efficiency, setting new benchmarks for what's achievable.

Uses Of Gen AI For Consultants And Consulting Firms

Now let us try to look at some use cases of Gen AI in management consulting and how it is transforming the profession by streamlining operations and enhancing client services. Here's a consolidated and enriched overview of how Gen AI is being utilized amongst top consulting firms:

Content generation:
Just like everyone else, consultants are also not behind in using Gen AI tools for creating content. While slides themselves are not as wordy, Gen AI is especially helpful in drafting storylines, creating initial text dumps, making text better & more concise, and also in ensuring a streamlined language style across all slides.

Content synthesis:
Management consultants often must absorb and summarize reports, presentations, and white papers to synthesize implications for the client and enhance the project outcomes. Gen AI tools like ChatGPT, Copilot, and Gemini are enabling consultants to do this synthesis much more rapidly and in far greater depth than before. This has increased the quality of research and synthesis, while simultaneously freeing up consultant bandwidth to dedicate more effort to strategic analysis and client engagement for more creative work.

Analysis:
Along with text-content, consultants also handle analysis of client & market data. Gen AI tools are helping consultants in analyzing market data more swiftly and accurately, providing a solid foundation for evidence-based recommendations. Gen AI tools are capable of synthesizing patterns from data with minimal instructions, leaving more bandwidth for consultants to creatively ask questions to the data.

Knowledge:
Consulting firms maintain a large repository of past projects, researches, perspectives, white papers, and many other knowledge database elements. Gen AI tools are helping consulting firms in making better sense of all of this knowledge database. Decades of information embedded in these consulting firms has instantly become vastly more accessible. Instead of manual searches and long tedious hours spent in pouring over the documents to extract relevant slides – the Gen AI tools are helping in dramatically improving search quality while taking a fraction of the time. This frees up consultant bandwidth to ask more and better questions to the knowledge database – leading to better research and more answers.

Brainstorming:
Consultants are often using Gen AI tools as thought partners to accelerate brainstorming of ideas, strategic concepts, frameworks, insights, and many other items. The untiring and detail-oriented qualities of Gen AI tools allow consultants to soldier-on even when creativity is running dry. By collaborating with a Gen AI tool, consultants can refine and iterate ideas quickly and effectively.

Options & scenarios:
Consultants are often involved in developing processes, procedures, and org. charts for clients. By using Gen AI tools, consultants can not only develop these outputs faster, but also have the Gen AI tool develop multiple options and scenarios with minimal efforts. This allows the team to prepare more substantive suggestions for the client. 

Communication prep:
One of the painful things for consultants is to prepare pre-read emails, pre-read briefing documents, executive summaries, and tailored talking points for all their documents & presentations. Gen AI tools are helping consultants in creating the prep materials much more effectively and quickly. Gen AI tools are especially helpful in giving an “80%-there” version of these prep items – leaving the consultant much more bandwidth to better devise the remaining 20% and make better quality outputs in less than v/s pre-Gen AI times.

Legal and compliance drafting:
Gen AI tools can also be leveraged by consulting firms in accelerating the initial drafts and also subsequent reviews of legally important documents such as indemnification notes, proposal cover letters, compliance materials, and any other client related documents such as NDAs. This helps in streamlining the process while ensuring thoroughness and accuracy.

 

By integrating Gen AI across these diverse areas, management consultants are not only optimizing their workflow but also providing enriched outputs for their clients. This transformation underscores Gen AI's role as a pivotal tool in the consulting toolkit, enabling consultants to focus on delivering higher value and strategic advice, thereby reshaping the consulting landscape for the better.

Future Outlook And Trends Of AI in Consulting

The advent of Generative AI (Gen AI) is setting the stage for significant shifts in management consulting. As we look ahead, the trajectory of Gen AI suggests targeted advancements and specific applications that promise to reshape consulting practices. Here’s a closer look at the tangible trends and future directions:

future-outlook-and-trends

Enhanced capabilities:
Future Gen AI tools will offer more refined capabilities in areas of content creation, presentations, analytics, and more consulting toolkit elements. Gen AI in the future will enable deeper data analytics at lower cost and unprecedented precision. This evolution will see AI models that can factor in a broader range of variables and create more creative and deeper outputs.

Unstructured data:
The next wave of Gen AI will excel in extracting actionable insights from unstructured data – from social media sentiment to industry reports not previously accessible. This capability will dramatically shorten the research phase of consulting projects, allowing for real-time strategy adjustments and more dynamic client advisories.

Real-time strategy simulation:
Gen AI may enable consultants to use real-time simulation tools that model the impact of strategic decisions before they're implemented. These tools will help visualize potential outcomes, providing a sandbox for testing strategies against various market scenarios, thereby reducing risk and enhancing decision confidence.

Customized client interactions at scale:
Advancements in Gen AI will allow for the customization of consulting services on a mass scale. AI-driven platforms will tailor recommendations, reports, and solutions based on the unique DNA of each client's business, industry specifics, and even corporate culture, making consultancy advice more relevant and impactful.

Ethical and regulatory frameworks in focus:
With the increasing reliance on Gen AI, the consulting industry will need to proactively develop ethical frameworks and compliance standards for AI use. This initiative will address data privacy, bias mitigation, and the ethical use of AI, ensuring that consulting practices remain trusted and transparent in the eyes of clients and regulators.

Collaborative AI for creative problem-solving:
Looking further ahead, Gen AI will become a collaborative partner in the creative process, aiding in brainstorming sessions and idea generation. This collaboration will extend to co-creating solutions with clients, leveraging AI's computational power to enhance human creativity and innovation.

 

In redefining the future of management consulting, Generative AI will not only optimize existing processes but also introduce new capabilities and service models. For aspiring consultants, proficiency in leveraging Gen AI would become an indispensable part of their toolkit, enabling them to deliver superior value and navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing business landscape.

About Author

Agrim

BCG Dubai Project Leader | I will transform your thinking about Consulting Interviews

  • Professional Experience: BCG, Opera Solutions

  • Languages: English

  • Location: United Arab Emirates

Agrim is an interview coach, former BCG Project Leader, and Solutions Analyst at Opera Solutions. He is a Specialist in PEI / Fit / Unorthodox Cases / CV / Market Sizing. Agrim helped a lot of candidates to land offers from McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. He is an expert in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia / Dubai / Qatar / Abu Dhabi / Oman / Kuwait). As a consultant, Agrim worked as a Project Leader at BCG for four years. Before that, he was a Solutions Analyst for Opera Solutions for two years. 

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