Three benefits of AI and automation for consulting businesses

25 September 2018

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 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.


GE Healthcare helping Bradford Teaching Hospitals with AI project

19 April 2019

As the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS trust continues to encounter heavy demand for beds and treatment, GE Healthcare has been working to help reduce the strain on the institution via a new AI-driven Command Centre. The Command Centre is hoped to decrease length of stay, alleviate the need for additional wards and beds and reduce cancellations for non-emergency surgery.

Facing unprecedented demand from the challenges presented by an ageing population and a shortfall in government spending, the NHS is at a cross-roads in its existence. In this environment, implementing time-saving, cost-cutting technological solutions has become crucial to the institution's future. This recently saw the NHS appoint nearly 80 consulting firms, IT consultancies, systems integrators, healthcare specialists and other professional services providers to its Health Systems Support (HSS) Framework.

Among those firms was GE Healthcare Partners, the health technology consulting wing of General Electric Company, an American multinational conglomerate incorporated in New York and headquartered in Boston. GE Healthcare is involved in transformation projects in national healthcare systems around the world, and recently received a ‘highly commended’ recognition at the 2019 MCA Awards for its work with the Dubai Health Authority towards transforming the local sector into a world-class hub for healthcare. Last year, the firm also won the ‘International’ award for its project with the Saudi Ministry of Health.

GE Healthcare helping Bradford Teaching Hospitals with AI project

In the UK, GE Healthcare has taken on a role collaborating with Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to build a Command Centre – like that of an air traffic control – at the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI). One of the first of its kind in Europe, the Command Centre will transform how care is delivered and organised as the number of patients at the hospital continues to increase. Utilising artificial intelligence (AI), it will provide a clear, instant, and real-time overview across the 800-bed hospital and help staff make quick and informed decisions on how to best manage patient care.

According to GE Healthcare’s website, up to 20 Trust staff based in the Command Centre will monitor a “wall of analytics” that constantly pulls in streams of real-time data from the multiple systems at the hospital. Advanced algorithms will help staff to anticipate and resolve bottlenecks in care delivery before they occur, recommending actions to enable faster, more responsive patient care and better allocation of resources. The data will be displayed on multiple high definition screens in the Command Centre – as well as on tablets and mobile devices, providing 24-7 support to busy medical teams across the hospital.

Over 96% of bed capacity at BRI is used regularly and it has 125,000 A&E (Emergency Department) attendances each year, up by more than 40% over the past decade. The Command Centre program will ideally help meet the vision of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to decrease length of stay, alleviate the need for additional wards and beds, and reduce cancellations for non-emergency surgery.

Commenting on the changes, Professor Clive Kay, Chief Executive of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said, "Demand for services is growing at Bradford Teaching Hospitals every year. The Command Centre will enable us to optimise our use of resources and improve how we move patients around the hospital for treatment and successful discharge. Around 350-400 patients come through our A&E every day, and relieving pressure on our 6,000 staff means they can spend more time delivering care, and less time organising care."

Set to open in Spring 2019, the Command Centre will be centrally located in a refurbished space at the BRI site. It will help to reduce unnecessary time spent in hospital after a patient is medically ready to leave, increase the proportion of patients who arrive and are admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours, and help ensure that patients are always treated in the wards best suited to manage their care.

Command Centres have been successfully deployed by several hospitals in North America, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a major not-for-profit 1,100 bed hospital in Baltimore. Since the John Hopkins Command Centre began operating, patients from other hospitals have been transferred 60% faster, Emergency Room wait times have been cut by 25%, and operating theatre wait times for post-surgical beds have decreased by 70%.

Jeff Terry, GE Healthcare’s Command Centre CEO, said of the initiative, “GE Healthcare’s vision is to enable precision health. We are honoured to serve the NHS Bradford team as they look to deliver the most effective patient care.”