AI is a top investment priority for consulting firms

07 June 2024 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read

Consultancies worldwide are increasingly seeking ways to leverage new technologies – particularly AI and analytics – to operate more efficiently and boost their competitive edge. This is according to a report from Deltek, which focuses on company attitudes towards digital transformation and emerging technologies.

Investing and implementing emerging technologies is a top priority for professional services firms in 2024, according to Deltek’s Clarity report. Deltek surveyed consultancies based in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand and their results show that investing in emerging technology was considered more important than other areas of focus, such as client satisfaction or cybersecurity.

With traditional (and more recently generative) AI taking the world by storm, and McKinsey predicting it could boost productivity by $4 trillion per year, AI is emerging as one of the most important new technologies for consultancies to consider adopting.

Main benefits of AI by industry

Source: Deltek Clarity 2024 

Journey to AI adoption

“At present, 98% of firms are leveraging traditional AI or machine learning (ML), and 97% report they are using generative AI,” Detelk’s Clarity report notes.

When consultants were polled on the use of AI, over half (54%) reported that the technology would most benefit operational efficiency. Around half also said that they see AI as most beneficial for improved project timelines and delivery.

72% of respondents also agreed that successful implementation of AI would improve staff job satisfaction. But despite that optimism, there are also reservations: around two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about the risks associated with adopting AI tools.

Uses of traditional & generative AI

Source: Deltek Clarity 2024 

Has the AI bubble burst?

While traditional AI, generative AI, and other machine learning-powered technologies are rapidly growing in popularity, there is still some caution being exercised. For example, some businesses have reported that they have been holding off on implementing AI tools for several reasons, including the impact of upcoming regulations in many regions.

During a recent Deltek webinar, AI Strategist Walter Pasquarelli noted, “The emergence of generative AI and related investment hype has created quite a bit of buzz. Indeed, with the rapid proliferation of AI discussions and applications, there is a looming concern about an ‘AI bubble’. And yet, I believe that we need to maintain a balanced perspective, focusing on sustainable AI integration strategies rather than getting swept up in hype.”

“While not all new AI startups will ‘make the cut’ in the next few years, the cat is out of the bag, and the innovation taking place is in full swing.”

Priorities for 2024 and beyond

The feeling of getting left behind seems to be reflected in Deltek’s Clarity survey results, with more than a third of consultancies extremely concerned about competitors implementing new technologies, such as AI, faster than they can.

“AI remains a priority for companies, with almost all businesses using some form of AI or machine learning and the majority of companies believing AI has potential to expand their business and create competitive advantage,” notes the report. “More than half of firms are confident that investing in AI will expand the services that it can deliver to the market.”

Priorities for 2024 and beyond

Source: Deltek Clarity 2024 

“As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate in 2024, the big question being asked in boardrooms now is how to navigate the AI revolution effectively, avoiding the pitfalls to reap the rewards.

More information?

Interested in more information about building an AI culture? Watch ‘The C Suite’s Guide to Generative AI’ featuring AI Strategist Walter Pasquarelli and a case study from digital consultancy Waterstons.