A simple act of giving or taking an advice got fabricated into a field of consultation, weaving colossal plinth for consulting firms to emerge as an industry altogether. Its been over 100 years since the first management consulting firm was formed. Gradually, the trend has started to demonstrate its presence and spread its significance across other domains such as finance, strategy, human resource, legal, healthcare, and politics, among others.
The inclination of businesses towards seeking experts opinion in management, accountancy, human resource, and financial matters has not only led the industry to sustain but has also established a scope for it to evolve over time. Major business decisions are broadly an outcome of an in-depth analysis of the financial data, market trends, government policies, price analysis, future prediction (forecasting) and company's short and long term objectives.
Consulting industry, which has shown a tremendous potential in recent decades, is highly correlated with the data being used for such analysis. The emergence of computer technology, internet, and various software developments, which became one of the crucial factors for the diversification of consulting industry in all these decades, is gradually becoming more and more advanced.
There is an enormously huge wave approaching from the ocean of technology in the name of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The emergence of AI have already captured people's imagination and have made them more comfortable and acceptable to the new and better change.
A few examples of AI's inception into our daily life are 'Siri', 'Google Assistant', and 'Alexa'. These virtual personal assistants respond to voice queries and interact with the user in a more intelligent manner. The rise of these AI-based personal assistants has made our smartphones even more smarter. The advancements in the automatic speech recognition technology have played an important role in the development of these virtual assistants.
Now imagine if a device can be equipped with powers to plan, imagine, perceive, learn, make choices, communicate, analyze, solve a problem, reasoning ability, making decisions and many such cognitive and super intelligent functions.
Such a technology, which has already made its ground, is going to completely transform the way consulting companies are going to function in near future. The composition of human-like thinking into a computer system or an electronic device coupled with the strength of inter-connectivity among smarter objects is going to bring a revolution in the way data is being handled and analyzed. Thus minimizing manual interference, which is currently the crux of any consulting firm.
With the proper implication of AI, consulting firms will be able to extract better insights on the data, which otherwise had a fair possibility of being overlooked. Additionally, an enormous amount of data can be analyzed in a fraction of the time. More advanced and innovative analytical tools could emerge as a new platform for analysis and reporting.
Consultancies could accommodate a one-point solution services to their clients by installing an AI-based architecture at their workplace. This technical advancement could be more efficient and could widen revenues for consulting firms. These financial benefits can be cascaded to the clients by ultimately reducing the cost of the service.
Further, this technology will unleash its full potential, as it becomes more and more accessible to businesses in future. In addition, many consulting services may get disintegrate and eventually perish or completely evolve as AI gets blended with other technological innovations such as Big Data, Automation, Robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, it is too early to claim at what intensity and speed this inevitable destruction or evolution is going to occur.
(The author is an Analyst with Attentio Research Center Pvt Ltd)