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10 Clever Uses of Tech in Consulting Firms

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.

Artificial Intelligence

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:

Devil’s Advocate

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.

Call Recaps

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.

Lateral Thinker

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.

Document Handling

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.

Calendar Management

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.

Cross-Platform Communication

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?

  1. John Ennis
    June 14, 2023 at 7:18 am Reply

    Another good use of ChatGPT is to feed it examples of a specific document format, for example, for grants or proposals, then ask it to put content into the specified format.

    We got a grant proposal done in literally two minutes the other day that would normally have taken our CSO an entire afternoon.

    Of course, you have to be careful putting sensitive information into ChatGPT, but it is still a huge benefit. We even got sensible milestones and a reasonably budget automatically.

    • David A. Fields
      June 14, 2023 at 7:29 am Reply

      Outstanding example, John. Totally agree on being careful with data. There’s a setting in ChatGPT that ostensibly keeps your data private. Also, there are plenty of apps that are not ChatGPT that promise much more secure data handling. Whether they live up to those promises or, on the back end are using ChatGPT themselves, is unclear to me.

      Congrats on turning around a proposal in minutes rather than hours. (And I’m looking forward to hearing about the win!)

      Thank you for contributing a smart use of tech, John.

  2. William J. Ryan
    June 14, 2023 at 7:42 am Reply

    I seeing more folks using to attend webinars for them, get the info in a fraction of the time tho they miss the interaction if the session has it. I’m using the small AI in MS Explorer for quick rewrites of email responses and probably should use it for posts like this but.. you get the real deal here! A friend shared their use of Namecheap to make a free logo for a program they were rolling out internally.

    There’s a list of some tools available others might find of interest in an article you’ll find if you Google “50+ New Cutting-Edge AI Tools.” I’m looking for something to help me craft a presentation so share back please.

    • David A. Fields
      June 14, 2023 at 7:55 am Reply

      Wow, the fake attendance robot! I recall seeing a product pitched on Shark Tank that created an avatar to show up at Zoom meetings. It couldn’t really interact–it was more like a long video of you nodding along. Simultaneously funny and horrifying. Well, I’m glad the real Bill shows up to read these articles and reply!

      Using AI to help with email responses is a great application, particularly if you receive a lot of emails (who doesn’t?) and/or spend a lot of time crafting each one.

      Thanks for chiming in, Bill, and for the recent article with the list of tools. On presentations, a number of firms use ChatGPT, which will build a serviceable, starter presentation. There are also quite a few apps that say they’ll build presentations in PowerPoint. Is that what you’re looking for?

      • William J. Ryan
        June 14, 2023 at 8:15 am Reply

        Yes, I haven’t signed up (because I don’t want to pay being honest here!) for ChatGPT so looking for something free that can help me craft a PPT faster.

        • David A. Fields
          June 14, 2023 at 8:23 am

          Fair enough, Bill. My recollection is ChatGPT is under $50 per month. Even if cash flow is tight, which is a totally understandable position, your time is worth spending $50 to give a tool a try. That’s my two cents!

  3. David Burnie
    June 14, 2023 at 10:37 am Reply

    Great ideas David. One reminder is that anything you put into ChatGPT becomes part of the public domain. So if you put a deliverable into the tool, make sure you don’t include any client confidential information. Some of our clients have banned the use of ChatGPT for that reason, especially when it comes to software code. Also, double check the information you get back from ChatGPT. A colleague used the tool to summarize a recent Meta earnings call, and the data in the summary was incorrect.

    That said, we’ve found ChatGPT can be a great way to clean up an article, though to be honest the writing style is pretty generic. If you want to convey new knowledge or a specific POV you’ll have to add that in later.

    Thanks for the article!

    • David A. Fields
      June 14, 2023 at 3:20 pm Reply

      Good points, David. My understanding is that you can protect some of the data you put into an AI–if not ChatGPT, then perhaps some others. (We have built a custom AI, for instance, based on my books and articles, and even though 90% of that information is public domain, I don’t think anything we put into our custom AI engine is shared outside our system.) You’re also absolutely right that ChatGPT will give flat-out incorrect information. Everything must be sourced and double-checked.

      I agree with you on the writing level too. It’s generic business writing. For many people who struggle with writing, though, generic business writing is an improvement.

      Thank you, as always, for your wisdom, Dave!

  4. Mandy
    June 14, 2023 at 12:29 pm Reply

    I created an ebook a couple of years ago, put it into ChatGPT, and asked it to create five blog posts and associated social media posts. It did a great job. I needed to edit the copy and change the tone to align with my brand, but otherwise, it saved me so much time. I have to say I love using it!

    I’m using for presentations.

    • David A. Fields
      June 14, 2023 at 3:16 pm Reply

      Fabulous example, Mandy. AI can cut down the time it takes to repurpose IP by a huge amount. It makes the difference between the intention to repurpose, and actually getting new content into market. Well done!

      Thank you for sharing what you did, Mandy. I’m sure many other consultants will follow your lead.

  5. Thomas Cox
    June 14, 2023 at 4:35 pm Reply

    I would love more details about RPA.

    • David A. Fields
      June 15, 2023 at 8:36 am Reply

      Thomas, you probably already use RPA at least to some degree. The easiest RPA to add to your workflow is a hotkey that simulates a series of keystroke and/or mouse clicks on your computer. For instance, I have a button on my desk that I press before each client call. It automatically opens the note-taking template, the recap template and the meeting… all pre-populated for that particular client. Take a look at autohotkey to start. More sophisticated RPA connects applications, websites, databases, etc. etc.. It’s worth bringing in an RPA expert to help with that.

      Thanks for the question, Thomas!

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