Human-AI synergies: emerging offerings and models [Series - Part III]
How consulting will inevitably change with the rise of the AI era (Part III)
In last week’s piece of the Roboconsulting series, we discussed the indispensable role of Human Intelligence when framing the consulting practice of the future in an AI-driven world.
Roboconsultants will blend traditional consulting expertise with cutting-edge technological acumen. They will leverage AI for enhanced data analysis, predictive insights, and innovative problem-solving.
They will operate at the intersection of human intellect and machine intelligence, redefining the boundaries of consulting efficiency, effectiveness, and creativity.
Roboconsulting will push new offerings and models to emerge, and I want to offer some ideas about those in today’s installment of the Series.
Emerging offerings in roboconsulting
A significant transformation is unfolding, fundamentally reshaping our consulting industry.
This change, driven by AI, is turning traditional expertise-based models into data-driven ones, focused on meeting client needs more effectively.
As roboconsultants, we are at the forefront of this evolution.
AI is our tool of choice.
Actually, it’s more than that: it’s the partner we have to do our work. With AI’s capacity to analyze massive data sets quickly and accurately, we are uncovering insights and innovating in ways that were previously unimaginable.
We are doing things faster, and we are doing them smarter.
AI’s near real-time data processing and insightful analysis allow us to make swift, informed decisions. This agility means we can adapt strategies on the fly, responding promptly to our clients’ evolving needs and staying ahead in markets that have never changed more rapidly than these days.
What stands out in this new era is our ability to offer hyper-personalized services.
AI tools help us understand our clients’ unique challenges and goals, leading to tailored solutions that hit the mark (hopefully, almost every time!). This client-centric approach, informed by deep data insights, is redefining how we engage with and satisfy our clients.
As roboconsultants, our role is evolving too.
While AI handles data-heavy tasks, we are free to dive into strategic thinking, creative problem-solving, and growing client relationships.
This synergy between Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence is the collaboration that will define the consulting in the AI era, combining both strengths to deliver impact for clients.
Business models will change. Offerings will change.
How large consulting firms, niche boutiques and independent consultants will work and commercialize their services will inevitably be different in the age of roboconsulting.
Let’s explore that evolution.
The integration of AI has brought unique changes and opportunities to each of the three segments we will review here:
Large consulting firms
Large consulting firms: scaling and diversifying with AI
Large consulting firms have traditionally operated on a model of scale and breadth, offering a wide range of services across various industries and geographies.
The deep integration of AI into their business models will enable these firms to enhance and diversify their service offerings even further:
AI-driven efficiency and scalability: AI technologies allow these firms to process large datasets more efficiently, enabling them to handle larger and more complex projects while keeping costs in check. This scalability will open up new markets and client segments.
Diversification of services: in the era of roboconsulting, these firms will offer advanced services such as predictive analytics, automated market research, and AI-driven strategy formulation, broadening their portfolio and providing more, new, different value to clients.
Customization at scale: AI’s ability to analyze vast amounts of data will allow these large firms to offer more personalized advice and solutions to clients, a level of customization that was previously challenging to achieve at scale. Professional services will scale better in the roboconsulting age.
Large consulting firms, with their extensive financial resources, talent pool and global reach, are uniquely positioned to pioneer innovative business models in the era of roboconsulting.
In some shape and form, they have bene trying to realize different offerings for some time now: my argument is that only by marrying the foundational principles of roboconsulting they will be able to achieve this transformation.
Here are a few that these firms can adopt to leverage the full potential of AI-enhanced consulting.
AI-powered global market insights
Large firms can develop AI-driven platforms that provide comprehensive global market insights. They can leverage Big Data analytics and Machine Learning algorithms to offer near real-time market intelligence, trend forecasts, and predictive analytics on a global scale.
Value Proposition - This would allow large consulting firms to finally put to good use their vast data repositories. The AI capabilities they have been building for the last decade could be leveraged to deliver insightful knowledge into the ways markets operate, how consumers behave, and what the competitive landscapes are looking like for their clients across different regions and industries.
Integrated AI strategy and implementation services
Big consultancies could start offering more effectively a full suite of services that not only include AI-driven strategy development but also its implementation and monitoring. The trend in clients’ expectations is clear, and we talked about it in previous installments of this series: these days, clients want tangible solutions, not just fancy slides presented by a bunch of smart guys.
This model would involve using AI for strategic planning, risk assessment, and decision support, followed by overseeing the implementation of these strategies using AI tools.
Value Proposition - Clients receive a comprehensive service, from strategy to implementation, that covers the entire lifecycle of strategy development and execution, ensuring consistency and effectiveness in the application of AI-driven recommendations, as well as increasing skin in the game from the consultancy side.
AI-enhanced organizational transformation services
Large consulting firms can specialize in guiding large organizations through digital and AI transformations. This model involves assessing the current digital maturity of an organization, identifying areas for AI integration, and providing tailored solutions for embedding AI into various business processes. Because the consultancy itself is dogfooding (by transforming themselves into roboconsultants), they are uniquely positioned to have the required credibility.
Value Proposition - With this offering, consulting firms can become strategic, multi-year partners in driving digital transformation that generates measurable results (unlike a lot of the digital transformation that we’ve seen happening until now), helping clients stay competitive in an increasingly AI-driven business environment.
Proprietary AI tools and platforms development
This is probably the largest moat I see for large consulting firms: investing in the development of proprietary AI tools and platforms that address specific industry challenges or offer different, innovative solutions. These could span from AI-driven supply chain optimization to AI-based consumer insights platforms. Every industry will have their own.
Value Proposition - By developing proprietary tools targeting industries of strength, these firms can offer unique services that differentiate them in the market, providing a competitive edge and new revenue streams.
AI Ethics and Governance consulting
This could be an entirely new line of business for large consultancies that are willing to invest in new capabilities. They can establish specialized divisions focused on AI ethics and governance to help clients navigate the non-trivial intersection of ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI deployment.
Value Proposition - This model taps into the growing need for ethical, transparent, and responsible AI, positioning these firms as leader in promoting ethical AI practices with clients that are transforming their businesses.
Niche boutique firms: specialization and personalized AI solutions
Niche boutique consultancies, known for their specialized expertise, ease to do business with and personalized service, are already leveraging AI to enhance their traditional strengths.
In the upcoming future, I believe this category of consulting organizations is the one that is best positioned to take full advantage of the roboconsulting age.
The benefits that boutiques will gain from AI will be disproportionate compared to those of large consultancies. Combining this with the fact that boutiques will be able to implement and roll out the organizational change much faster and more effectively than the giants, places them in the perfect spot to become the great winners of the roboconsulting era.
How this will happen? Some ideas.
Deepening specialized expertise: AI tools will allow these firms to deepen their expertise in specific sectors and service areas. By utilizing specialized AI software, they can offer more in-depth and nuanced insights to their clients.
Enhanced client relationships: AI can assist in analyzing client data to uncover unique insights, enabling boutique firms to offer highly tailored solutions and maintain strong, personalized client relationships.
Competing with larger firms: The use of AI allows small boutiques to compete with larger firms by offering sophisticated, data-driven services that were previously the domain of larger players.
These firms will create new offerings to enhance their specialized services, or create entirely new ones.
Specialized AI advisory services
Boutique firms can develop specialized AI advisory services focused on specific industries or business functions. These services would leverage AI to offer deep insights and tailored strategies in areas like retail analytics, financial forecasting, treasury management, or supply chain optimization.
Value Proposition - This model allows small firms to capitalize on their niche expertise, offering clients deep, AI-enhanced insights in specific areas that larger firms might not cover with the same depth.
AI-driven market niche expansion
Identifying and targeting underserved market niches with AI-driven solutions is what a lot of boutique firms will work on. For instance, a boutique could specialize in AI solutions for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or offer AI-driven sustainability consulting for businesses looking to enhance their environmental impact.
Value Proposition - Because they only focus on these niches, boutique firms can carve out unique market positions, offering specialized services that are in high demand but not widely available. This will allow them, at least initially, to charge a premium.
AI integration and organizational change management
I would think this could be a really significant target offering for a niche consultancy: specializing in helping businesses integrate AI into their operations and manage the associated organizational change. This service would cover areas such as AI strategy development, employee training on AI tools, and change management support.
Value Proposition - As many businesses struggle with the integration of AI, this model positions the firm as an expert in guiding companies through the digital transformation journey, making AI adoption seamless and effective.
Independent consultants: agility and niche AI expertise
Independent consultants have the leanest operations of the three consulting models considered. Combining that with focused expertise, they can be excellently positioned to leverage AI for agility and niche specialization.
What could they exploit? Some thoughts here.
Adaptive business models: independent consultants can quickly adapt and integrate AI tools into their practices. This will allow them to stay agile and responsive to market changes and client needs. They will be able to offer always something more, quicker.
Niche AI expertise: by focusing on specific AI applications or industries, independent consultants can develop deep expertise in niche areas. These could happen by going deep into particular verticals, or also spreading their services horizontally in specialized practices (eg, Project Management, Change Management, etc).
Cost-effective AI solutions: with the increasing availability of AI tools and resources, independent consultants can access cost-effective AI solutions, enabling them to offer sophisticated services without the overhead of larger firms. A real risk I see is that we might assist to a massive influx of new independent roboconsultants, give that AI tools lower the barrier to entry drastically. This could generate rate pressure.
Independent consultants in the Roboconsulting era have the opportunity to carve out unique niches and offer distinct services by leveraging AI.
Their lean structure and focused expertise can be advantageous in adopting innovative offerings.
AI strategy and implementation for SMEs
Independent consultants can specialize in developing and implementing AI strategies tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This service would focus on introducing cost-effective AI solutions that enhance business operations without requiring significant investment.
Value Proposition - This taps into the SME market, which often lacks the resources for large-scale AI implementations. It offers a targeted, budget-friendly approach to AI integration, making advanced technology accessible to smaller businesses.
Personalized AI coaching and training
Independents could offer personalized coaching and training services on AI usage and integration. This could include one-on-one coaching for business leaders, bespoke workshops for teams, or online courses focused on specific AI tools and techniques.
Value Proposition - With the increasing demand for AI skills, this model positions the independent consultant as a personal AI guide, providing tailored education and training that caters to the specific needs of clients.
Virtual AI consultant services
I am bullish on this solution: offering AI consulting services through a virtual platform, using AI tools to assist in data analysis, strategy development, and providing AI-driven recommendations remotely. While big firms are fighting this, independent consultants will thrive on it.
Value Proposition - This service offering caters to the growing need for flexible, remote consulting services. It enables consultants to extend their reach to a global client base and offer services in a highly scalable and efficient manner.
AI solution broker
Just like mortgage brokers connect lenders to people wanting to buy a house, independent consultants will act as a broker or intermediary that connects businesses with AI technology providers, helping clients find the most suitable AI solutions for their specific needs.
Value Proposition - This is a massive opportunity to leverage the consultant’s network and knowledge of the AI market, helping clients navigate the vast landscape of AI tools and technologies to find the perfect match for their business requirements.
Still a lot of questions
I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of questions.
I will probably give this series a break for the next few weeks, while I keep researching on the side and speaking to some bright minds.
(To be clear, I will keep publishing consulting stuff on Consulting Intel on a weekly basis!)
Truth is, nobody knows what’s going to happen next, and the impact to businesses from the rapid escalation of AI tools is, well, uncertain.
As we temporary wrap up our exploration of roboconsulting, it seems safe to acknowledge that the landscape is changing.
The insights from our discussions so far highlighted a pivotal shift from traditional ways of working to a new era where various AI tools, including the most recent ones like ChatGPT, play a significant role.
Generative AI tools do not just process information, but they enhance our ability to manage and deploy knowledge in innovative ways.
The transition to using AI in consulting reflects a move from a knowledge-centric approach (ie, the expert consultant) to one where the ability to effectively use AI tools to amplify knowledge defines success (ie, the roboconsultant).
This does not mean human insight is becoming obsolete.
Quite the opposite.
We will use AI to handle routine tasks, and this will free us up for more complex problem-solving.
The journey into AI integration has been mixed.
While there is excitement about the potential of AI to transform mundane tasks, there is also a realization that AI has its limitations, especially with more nuanced tasks.
The key takeaway is that AI is a powerful tool, but it’s most certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution. It works best when complemented by human expertise, as we discussed in Part II.
For both large and small consulting firms, the future will involve finding the right balance between AI capabilities and human insight.
Large firms might leverage their vast data to train bespoke AI models, while smaller boutiques might find niche ways AI can support their unique offerings.
More and more people in consulting organizations will explore ways for AI to help their firms, however they should spend a similar amount of time to identify all those things that their people can do that AI cannot (or does a bad job at).
In the upcoming months, the focus should be on practical experimentation with AI.
The framework should be to start with simpler tasks and gradually tackling more complex challenges, to help us understand where AI excels and where human expertise is - dare to say it - irreplaceable.
If we take this journey of discovery seriously, and I am sure most of us will, we as humans will remain at the forefront of the consulting industry in an AI-augmented world.
We will become roboconsultants.
🎉 Congratulations! You made it through Part III of the “Roboconsulting Series”.
If you are intrigued by the concept, I would be immensely grateful if you could share this with other friends and colleagues that might be interested in it.
I want to ask for your feedback, comments and ideas.
❓ What is roboconsulting for you? How might you implement it in your day-to-day professional activities?
🚨 CALL TO ACTION - I need your help
I have a small favor to ask you.
If you are, or personally know:
an AI leader (any industry)
an AI consultant (independent or not, but only if you have solid expertise)
a CEO of an AI-specialized company (any size)
a technology expert in AI-related disciplines
I would like to talk to you.
I am collecting opinions and perspectives from industry experts and thought leaders on the future of consulting in the age of roboconsulting.
Specifically, I am looking to chat to you about:
Emerging trends that will likely shape the consulting landscape in the coming years, providing insights into what consultants need to prepare for;
How consulting roles are evolving, emphasizing the collaborative nature of future consulting teams that include both humans and AI;
How client expectations are changing and what clients will demand from consulting firms in the future.
Please share this post with people that could be interested in talking, DM me on 𝕏 or email me directly.
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