You’re already leveraging emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) in your consulting practice. How could you use these tools more and better?
A few weeks ago, I snorkeled a Caribbean reef with a marine biologist who pointed out various sea life, latched a white sea urchin onto my hand and explained the coral features. Although I could see beautiful fish and coral all around me, even the expert struggled to track the myriad species flitting by us, and I was obviously overlooking far more of the vast, underwater ecosystem than I was observing.
I feel the same way about emerging technology and consulting firms. It’s clear that we can use AI and RPA to improve how we win engagements, enhance the value we deliver to clients, streamline our infrastructure and enhance our firm’s strategy.
It’s also evident that we’re swimming at the very front edge of a tsunami of change.
The examples below are just a few, surface-level fish, and only in two areas: AI and RPA. Please point out more. Let’s collaboratively build out clever use cases for emerging technology.
You’re already using AI to auto-complete words as you type or text, and perhaps you’re using ChatGPT to create first drafts of articles. A few other applications we’ve seen in consulting firms:
Prior to presenting to your consulting client, feed your deliverable into ChatGPT and ask it to argue against your conclusions, look for holes and challenge your thinking.
A prepared consultant is an impressive, credible, valuable consultant.
World Renowned Team Member
Feed into an AI engine the top 10 books on a narrow topic or industry your consulting firm addresses. Then, when a client asks you a question, feed the question into the new, expert AI you created.
When you respond to your client, offer your assessment and also say, “Here’s what the top authors in the field think.” Of course, give proper attribution to the authors you included in your AI expert.
Record your calls with clients and let AI take over the task of pulling together the recap. You can use AI to speed up and improve the recaps you send to clients and also to distill the conversations into TL;DR bullet points for your consulting team.
Hypothesis and Stats Generator
AI is fantastic at quickly recognizing patterns in data. If you pour public information such as annual reports, primary research such as interview notes, and client data into an AI processor, it will generate statistics (e.g., growth rates) and data-based hypotheses in moments.
You’ll receive deeper, broader and faster information than you would from human analysts.
ChatGPT will offer highly amusing, sometimes bizarre answers to lateral thinking puzzles. Your consulting firm can make use of that trait. Submit a problem to AI and explicitly eliminate the obvious causes or solutions, then ask the AI to generate alternative explanations.
Since AI doesn’t actually “think,” its answers are frequently nonsensical. However, it does also surface plausible explanations your consulting firm would never generate on your own and sparks creative thinking.
Robotic Process Automation
Many consulting firms use basic automations. Perhaps a hotkey macro here or there, pre-scheduled emails and social media, marketing funnels with automated email sequences, and Zapier magically connecting various applications. There is so much more RPA can do for your consulting firm.
If you connect your calendar, systemized project approach and client information repository, a bot can prepopulate templates, forms and note-taking pages in preparation for interviews and data gathering.
Data and Dashboards
Small consulting firms are notoriously lax about gathering internal data and tracking performance metrics. RPA can help you collect critical information (such as time usage), calculate KPIs and generate dashboards.
Streamline every document your consulting firm encounters by combining calendars, templates, notes, and financial systems. You can automate invoicing, following up on receivables, drafting proposals, creating presentations, cleaning and editing deliverables, and more.
When your consulting firm has dozens or scores of client contacts with scheduled sessions, plus calls with new business prospects, relationship-nurturing touchpoints, and internal meetings, your calendar quickly becomes very unruly. Add in frequent requests for rescheduling, and it’s well beyond the capabilities of Calendly.
Customized RPA can handle very complex calendaring tasks to keep your consulting firm’s schedules organized and manageable.
Despite the promises of all-in-one systems from software vendors, every consulting firm uses a multitude of software systems and platforms. Project management, pipelines, and presentations require different software capabilities. As a result, data are often kept in disparate places, and people in your consulting firm who should be informed about something, are left out of the loop.
RPA can connect the dots, automatically notify team members and ensure information changed in one system is reflected in others too.
Please use the comments section to suggest other clever (or routine) uses of AI, RPA and other emerging technologies.
What else have you tried or seen in action?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.