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Generative AI is revolutionizing the consulting industry by automating low value-add, repetitive tasks, and improving efficiency. This technology will lead to higher quality work, increased profitability, better staff retention, and accelerated competition in the market.
By now, I’m guessing you’ve seen (or at least heard of) ChatGPT. If you haven’t played with it yourself, I recommend you stop reading this article right now and have a go here.
You’ve seen the countless LinkedIn posts proclaiming the new wave of AI is here and how automation is going to put us all out of work. Maybe you’ve seen the announcements (here, here and here are some) that Big Tech is pushing generative AI into all of its products. Or heard politicians in the news calling for AI regulation.
What’s going on and why is everyone talking about AI all of a sudden?
In a nutshell, there’s been a step change in the quality of the technology. We can do things now with AI that we couldn’t before, and it’s worth your time to understand how this is going to impact your business.
Generative AI refers to a type of artificial intelligence that is capable of creating something new. Unlike other types of AI, which rely on feeding in pre-existing data to be transformed, generative AI uses algorithms to generate entirely novel content, such as music, images, video and text. And it does this with a very simple natural language interface (i.e. you can give it instructions as if you were writing to a co-worker).
I worked in consulting for ~10 years. I’ve spent the last ~6 months at South Park Commons delving into Large Language Models (LLMs) specifically and generative AI more broadly. There is no doubt in my mind that generative text and images represent a tidal shift for our industry.
If you speak to 100 consultants and ask them what they do, you’ll get 100 different answers. So don’t bite my head off for this take. But one way of thinking about the industry is that we tailor research insights to a specific problem our clients have - designing, executing, synthesising and communicating that research is what we get paid a lot of money to do.
Out of all these phases, research execution is low value-add, repetitive and time-consuming. It also tends to be donkey work. Ask any analyst at a consulting firm and they’ll have plenty of war stories of late nights in the white-collar trenches aligning boxes, cleaning interview transcripts or building out yet another scenario in the market model. But it’s necessary to get from a blank page to a final report.
A lot of that research execution involves information processing. Writing things down, summarising them, expanding on them. Cleaning, classifying and grouping data points. Explaining charts in text and quantifying spoken word. And a whole lot of coordination: amongst the team and across vendors. For these use cases, generative AI is fantastic.
At Junior, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can apply generative AI to consultants’ workflows. And we’ve started with helping you run interview workstreams more efficiently. In our view, this is the most common, highest value-add and most disorganised work that consultants engage in - we’re on a mission to make it 10x faster and easier for you.
We think generative AI will be applicable to all of the work consultants do: web surveys, secondary research, data analysis + visualisation, modelling + forecasting, pitch writing, project management slide production etc. Our vision is to build out modules that cover all of the consultant activity stack, cutting out the grunt work endemic to all of those activities to let you focus on the bigger picture.
Now - you might say - these use cases are interesting, but why should I bother? Ultimately, what’s the bottom line for my business?
It can’t all be sunshine and roses. There are very real risks associated with AI adoption that you should start thinking about asap.
We can have a spirited debate about whether these rote tasks are actually what hones the advisory skillset. But more broadly, this is not a new fear nor is it limited to the consulting industry - there is legitimate anxiety in all sectors of the economy as to how jobs will change with gen AI. From our perspective, gen AI is an enhancement, not a replacement, of human capabilities. At the end of the day this technology is not going anywhere, so we need to work out how to harness it positively. And that will involve lots of staff training and iteration.
AI is not the panacea to all our problems. What it can’t do (thankfully!) is what consultants excel at:
So we get to keep all the fun bits of the job, and dispense with the donkey work. Sounds like a win-win to us!
Consultants have enough on their plate managing their existing client base without allocating time and resources to experimenting with AI tooling. That’s where we come in.
We know how the consulting industry works inside-out and we’re building software to help you do all of this. Drop us a line if you’re interested in strapping rocket boosters to your teams.