When you hear the word ‘disruption’, which industries do you think this most applies to? Usually manufacturing, media and retail spring straight to mind but the reality is, the threat of disruption is not a matter of ‘which’ industry but a matter of ‘when’ for all industries. In centuries gone by a trend might have taken decades or even longer to reach its peak of adoption, but trends can now take just a few months or in some instances days to take hold. Despite this, there are still a number of industries that don’t widely appear to realise that they are ripe for ‘disruption’ – one of these is the consulting and advisory industry.
Whilst we’ve seen great advancements in the accountancy sector with their adoption of the cloud and digitisation, and we at G2 Innovation employ AI (Artificial Intelligence) and deep web analytics in our Future Forecasting and training services, other B2B and personal consultants such as lawyers, HR consultants and business support agencies have typically not been as quick to harness the opportunities new technologies are creating. The irony of consulting, is that when the times get hard, whether in work or life, people turn to consultants to help. As a result, it’s often the consultants themselves that are the last to feel the need to innovate.
Nevertheless, it only takes a couple of ground-breakers to buck the curve, and suddenly a tide of change and disruption will commence, and in fact with a little help from AI, this wave’s journey has already begun. In the legal industry for example, IBM’s Watson is at a stage where it is predicted to pass the bar exam by the end of the year. Meanwhile, earlier this year one 19-year-old launched what has since been dubbed the ‘world’s first robot lawyer’. DoNotPay provides free support to people looking to appeal their parking and driving fines. With an impressive 64% success rate, Joshua Browder, the brains behind this, seeks to expand his business to include services like flight delay compensation, for instance.
Recruitment consulting as another example, is a profession which for a long time has been very people dependent and people-centric. Nevertheless, in some organisations computer algorithms are replacing manual labour by not only crunching a whole lot more information than is humanly possible, but also by identifying personality traits based on how someone has interacted and expressed themselves online. ‘Robo-recruiters’ are also learning as they go, identifying the qualities of a successful previous candidate and head hunting for future talent accordingly. So, using machines for what would ordinarily be time-consuming manual work means human recruiters now have more choice in where to focus their efforts. For instance, it might be on candidates in the later stages of the process, or perhaps on those who are already placed, taking the time to create better relationships and a more personalised approach. Suddenly, for those embracing disruptive technologies, a range of new opportunities for innovation are appearing.
Whilst these examples demonstrate how new tech and consultants can work hand in hand with the development of these intelligent, cognitive technologies, it’s not hard to consider how AI might continue to develop and what this means for consultancy in general. In much the same way that robots are outperforming humans physically in other industries like manufacturing, it’s entirely possible that a robot may one day be able to offer better advice and support than even the most specialised consultant. So, where to from there?
Fortunately, whilst every trend comes with threats, others can offer opportunities to either combat or complement this disruption. The key for consultants will be to truly understand their end users needs and then use these trends as stimulus for new and exciting ways to meet those needs. For example, how might Hyper Personalisation be employed by consultants? Could DNA mapping or digital tracking allow for hyper-bespoke consultancy opportunities? How might the development of digitisation, connectedness and the internet of things impact this industry? Given that the modern business leader no longer tolerates paying for superfluous services, are there other devices that consultants might use or develop to problem solve more effectively. To this end, could wearables and internables be the hot ticket for understanding and supporting clients?…Just as disruption is inevitable, the possibilities are also endless.
The question is, are you and your consultants ready for this?
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