The Transformative Impact of AI on the Consulting Landscape

Publishing day

October 12, 2023

Written by

Richàrd Hruby

In the fast-evolving realm of management consulting, change is the only constant. At our B2B SaaS tech company, we recently observed a surprising surge in traction within the management consulting sector. It prompted us to delve deeper and understand the driving forces behind this shift. The consensus from our conversations with customers and industry experts was clear: the $300 billion consulting behemoth is in the midst of a significant transformation. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is shaking the very foundations of the industry, leading to a reconfiguration of its landscape.

Here are some key insights into how AI is reshaping the world of consulting.

The Death of Generalism

In the not-so-distant past, being a generalist consultant was sufficient. Clients relied on consulting firms for their expertise and advice on a wide array of business challenges. However, with the widespread adoption of technology tools like PowerBI and Tableau, clients now have the means to analyze and understand their businesses independently. They are seeking more than generic advice; they demand expert and technical guidance. While the political prestige of hiring a renowned consultancy like McKinsey may persist, the nature of the value consultants provide is evolving rapidly.

Precision Projects are Harder

Consulting projects have become more specific and data-intensive. Clients no longer measure success by billable hours but by specific, value-based outcomes. This shift has profound implications for consultants. They must adapt to deliver results in a more precise and efficient manner. It's no longer just about providing advice; it's about achieving measurable objectives.

Software is the New Consultant's Toolkit

Traditionally, the consulting industry relied heavily on the Microsoft Office suite. However, with the growing volume and complexity of data, generic tools are falling short. Consultants are now demanding software solutions that seamlessly integrate into their workflows. They recognize the tremendous potential of generative AI in handling vast amounts of unstructured data in a flexible and efficient manner. This recognition has led to a pivotal shift, with all three of the largest consulting firms partnering with major AI language model providers. Bain and BCG have joined forces with OpenAI, while McKinsey has chosen to collaborate with Cohere.

In summary, the future of consulting hinges on two crucial factors: in-depth expertise and proficiency with innovative tools. Consultants must evolve into specialists and leverage cutting-edge technology to meet the demands of an ever-changing landscape.

The Evolution of Consulting

In the world of modern consulting, being a jack-of-all-trades is no longer sufficient. As clients adopt advanced tools like PowerBI and Tableau, they are increasingly looking for specialized guidance. While the prestige of renowned consultancies persists, the nature of their services is rapidly evolving to meet these new demands.

The Trend Towards Precision

Consultancies are now handling projects that require a high degree of specificity and involve vast amounts of data. Clients are shifting their focus from billable hours to concrete outcomes, demanding tangible results from their consulting partners. This represents a significant operational shift for consultants.

A Shift in Tools

While traditional tools like Excel remain prevalent, there is a growing appetite for software solutions tailored to handle complex data tasks. Notably, some of the major consulting firms have recognized the importance of AI in this evolving landscape, with Bain and BCG partnering with OpenAI and McKinsey collaborating with Cohere.

In essence, the consultants of the future must combine deep expertise with a mastery of innovative tools to navigate the changing terrain of the consulting industry. The era of generalism is giving way to a new age of specialization and technical proficiency.