Three benefits of AI and automation for consulting businesses

25 September 2018 Authored by Consultancy.uk

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are disrupting businesses across the globe. As these new technologies develop, many companies are increasingly thinking about integrating AI or at least automation into their operations. According to a study by Narrative Science. the number of companies implementing AI, within the space of one year, nearly doubled with an increase from 38% to 61%. Of these companies, a quarter use AI for predictive analytics, and 22% use it for machine learning. 

When considering whether to implement AI or automation technology, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. This is certainly not an easy task as AI is often mistaken for automation due to the fact that AI often involves an element of automation and vice versa. As a result, it can be difficult for the average lay person to clearly identify the differences between these technologies. Machine learning is an algorithm that allows devices to “learn” based on data, i.e. using artificial intelligence to improve algorithms. 

How can consultancy firms benefit from AI and automation?

While AI and automation have significantly disrupted some industries, most notably manufacturing and customer service, they have also undeniably had an impact on consultancy firms. Generally, the effects of these new technologies on consultancy firms are positive, and if harnessed correctly, AI and automation could significantly enhance how these firms operate as well as the services they provide to clients.

Data collection

AI technology can process, handle, and analyse massive amounts of data far more efficiently and faster than the average human. As such, it can provide more accurate insights into many areas of business including sales, operations, supply chain and more. For consultants, such information can be used to augment their offerings and services to clients, enhance clients’ ROIs. When used for consultancy purposes, information on for instance sales channels, customer journeys and client behaviour can help marketeers and consultants tasked with sales identify new opportunities and develop more effective strategies for advertising campaigns. For partners, AI can be tapped to streamline the delivery of projects, on the back of more effective resourcing and prioritisation.Three benefits of AI and automation for consulting businesses

Streamline admin tasks

Probably one of the most tedious aspects of any consultant’s job is processing routine paperwork. Whether it relates to manually creating client invoices, processing payroll or creating progress reports for clients, admin tasks can slow down a consulting business. A recent report by Sage revealed that the average small business, including smaller consultancies, spends 120 days per year on admin – time which would otherwise be spent growing their client base and creating new opportunities.

Robots are much more efficient at handling routine admin tasks than humans. Robotic process automation, also known as RPA, devices can help companies with a wide range of admin tasks; for example, creating and delivering invoices, matching incoming payments with the correct invoice, record-keeping, and much more. Some, more high-end AI devices, can even decision-makers make more logical and consistent business decisions or to ensure regulatory forms are completed to avoid non-compliance fines. 

Improved productivity

Automating routine admin tasks can also increase consultancy firms’ productivity. Consultants can streamline mundane processes with financial software or schedule meetings, record conversations, and make restaurant reservations with a virtual personal assistant like  Zoom.ai. Removing these responsibilities from junior staff members’ workloads means that they can focus on more rewarding work resulting in higher engagement and productivity levels across the whole consulting firm.

Consultants that want to use automation to boost their operations and performance can tap into a host of tools and software solutions. Using If This Then That (ITTT) for instance, professionals can create processes to automate almost any task including logging time spent for time tracking or saving email attachments to Google Drive. The latest information sharing and collaboration platforms such as GoogleDocs or GSuite support automated document sharing, while a tool such as MailChimp allows for automating emails to relations and staff. 

Related: Consultants should look before they leap with AI, but benefit could be huge.

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