T V RamachandranDownload Article
With all the exciting benefits that Artificial Intelligence or AI can offer the world, there are genuine fears about its potential to render a variety of job positions redundant. After all, AI will very likely automate a variety of “white-collar” jobs that comprise of professional, managerial, or administrative work. Analysts predict that the field of consulting, being largely human-capital intensive, will undoubtedly be impacted. This paper endeavours to demonstrate that AI-revolution is inevitable and the consulting industry can reap its benefits if it rises to the challenge and evolves along with the technology.
Every innovation through history birthed numerous new jobs and advantages into existence – and AI is no different. Experts in the field predict that while specific lower- to mid-level jobs will certainly be made redundant, AI will usher in novel job descriptions to suit the requirements of an AI algorithm-powered future. Research indicates that the matured global consulting market is estimated to grow at 3% CAGR in the next five years. While AI may not accelerate growth in the consulting sector, there will be tremendous internal transformation.
The field of management and strategy consulting, for example, is already pursuing a makeover. Boundaries between IT or technology consulting and Management or Strategy consulting are fast disappearing. All the big players, McKinsey, Accenture, KPMG, and others, in anticipation of an Artificial Intelligence-led future, have invested in acquisitions in digital AI-powered platforms and offer AI-related consulting services.
The global startup economy boom will also contribute to sustaining the consulting industry. Early- and mid-sized startups tend to maintain lean teams to control overheads and rely on Subject Matter Expert third-party consultants for a range of services from business strategy to operational execution.
|“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates|
Experts estimate that the IT or software industry will grow at 11% CAGR in the next five years. Big data analytics, cloud computing, robotics, and AI will be the key drivers shaping this growth.
Due to the proliferation of cloud computing, software platform business models are already changing from a SaaS (Software as a Service) to XaaS (Everything as a Service). XaaS models are one-stop-shop cloud-based product and service models that companies can leverage on an as-needed basis and be billed accordingly.
Consultants will be required to support business, and IT teams in various organizations as they navigate the evaluation, selection, and implementation of these offerings in a cost-effective and timely manner.
India’s $167 billion IT-BPM industry will be transformed. It is reported that 60-65% of this labour force will be employed in jobs requiring completely different skill sets. This means that significant upskilling is required and is in fact, already underway. In anticipation of AI-related disruption, the industry is already evolving to include AI, robotics processing, and Machine Learning as key offerings.
The future belongs to the ‘gig’ or ‘project-based’ job economy. Consulting firms and individual consultants who are mindful of this will need to pay attention to the trends and upgrade their expertise and services accordingly. Consultants, as they have always been, will need to be flexible, agile, constant learners, and adaptable to change in order to thrive.
The field of data science will continue to accelerate with data scientists continuing to be in high demand. Apart from technology-related and management consultants, a few other consulting sectors will experience growth.
While AI offers significant advantages, it also presents its sets of challenges – and experts will be required to assist organizations in navigating these complexities. As businesses become increasingly data-driven and rely more on AI’s predictions for decision-making, Subject Matter Experts will have to train AI and Data Scientists in providing greater transparency into the decision-making process behind every prediction an AI issue in order to build greater trust. The issue of historical and inherent bias being introduced into AI has been well-documented, and consultants to coach data scientists in eliminating bias in their AI algorithms will be required.
Additionally, as organizations accumulate incredible amounts of data, data governance consultants will be required to manage and maintain the quality to guarantee a higher accuracy for AI predictions. With every industry focused on digitizing, the issue of cybersecurity already
is and will continue to be a significant issue. Ethical hackers and cybersecurity experts will be relied upon by organizations looking to secure their information.
With the growth of AI implementation in all fields, the world of trainers will continue to grow. Experts skilled in data fluency and communication skills will be called upon to train employees and individuals in reading, interpreting, and leveraging the results of data analytics powered by AI.
AI platforms are trained to gain more accuracy vastly through sizeable historical data sets – which brings the issue of an individual’s right to data privacy into relevance. Several countries around the globe have already implemented data protection regulations and laws, and others are following suit. These regulations and laws will be updated continuously and contested. Organizations of all sizes and individuals
alike will rely on Subject Matter
regulatory and legal counsel familiar with the intricacies of AI products to
guide them through potential issues.
In short, innovation begets innovation. The introduction of the internet created the field of computer science, information technology, big data, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence. It also changed the face of more
traditional jobs. Doctors regularly need to update themselves on technological advances to examine patients, diagnose, and treat them. Teachers need to use technology to research, prepare, and train students. These jobs have not been eliminated. In fact, we now have more doctors and teachers because the technology presented the opportunity for more individuals to pursue these jobs.
The reality is that some jobs will be made redundant – the introduction of cars affected the horse and bullock-cart industry adversely. The invention of the telephone destroyed the telegram. However, as with every innovation, if the consulting industry whole-heartedly embraces the changes AI brings and discovers the opportunities it presents in their domain of expertise, there is tremendous potential to sustain the market.