Management Consulting Has a 27% Likelihood of Automation – Should You Worry?











Artificial Intelligence has been around for quite a while now. Everyone is familiar with this term and how important it is, and many of us have heard about how interwoven it will be with the future of business. Many are going as far as to say that automation driven by Artificial Intelligence is the next industrial revolution – a global wave of automation that will be powered by Artificial Intelligence, after which nothing will ever be as it is now.

However, that won’t happen for several more years, so we shouldn’t stress about it too much right now. What we and most others should at least deliberate is how likely it is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace certain professions. Plenty of theories and calculations already exist, and there are even sites that tell you the likelihood of your job being replaced by AI-powered automation.

These sites might sound like a joke, but there are serious calculations for many specific professions. The research we want to bring your attention to is one from McKinsey and Company, one of the biggest consulting firms in the world.

What Does the Research State?

When it comes to automation and the global workforce change it will bring, most experts agree that this will be more of a workforce realignment than a massive job loss. This means that many jobs that will be replaced by AI will also be realigned into new positions. Essentially, many people around the globe who will lose their jobs to AI will eventually gain new ones. However, this is only the case for about 19% of jobs, according to the latest studies.

The reality is that automation will replace many ‘unskilled’ workers, and the people in these jobs will most likely need to pursue some form of higher education to reintegrate into the post-AI job market.

Furthermore, there will be many other professions, ones that are not defined as typical blue-collar work, that might also be significantly impacted by the wave of AI advancement. One of those is management consulting, but as you already know from the title of this post, the chance for that is sitting at 27%.

However, you should always bear in mind that consulting is the type of work that requires a diagnostic ability to be successfully done. Work that can be automated is work that can be proceduralized. Consultancy is not proceduralized work, but diagnostic, which is one of the main reasons why professions with proceduralized work have much percentages of potentially automated work.

For instance, waiters and shelf fillers have as much as a 72% chance of being automated entirely. Additionally, there are many other professions that have more than a 60% chance of being replaced by AI. Some of them are catering assistants, farmworkers, sewing machinists, packagers, launderers, agricultural drivers, bus drivers, and many others.

However, to truly gain peace of mind around what the coming industrial revolution will mean for you, you must first understand the actual implications behind this research. It’s not just about percentages and numbers. You still need to take into account that AI doesn’t mean robots will be roaming the streets making humans obsolete. In reality, AI mostly means automation. In essence, most skilled jobs will have specific parts that will be automated and performed by specific AIs, while a human will still do the rest. According to McKinsey research, less than 5% of jobs in the world will be replaced by technology in their entirety, while the remaining jobs will be ‘helped’ by AI.

For some jobs, technology could replace as much as half of the tasks being done by humans, but the human employee will still have other tasks to do, most of which will be vital for their organization or their profession.

What Does the Risk of Automation Mean for Management Consultants?

Most professions, which are defined by the diagnostic work they do, will have some tasks that can be automated but a majority than cannot. This applies to management consultants, for whom a 27% likelihood of being replaced by AI means something different that the research title implies. Rather than say 27% of management consulting jobs will be replaced by AI, it is more correct to say that 27% of the tasks of management consultants can be replaced by AI.

This is actually good news. Companies in the consulting sector, finance, insurance, and many others will end up benefiting from AI. As long as those organizations stay informed and invest appropriately, they will be able to leverage most future AI improvements. By doing that, they can increase their efficiency and accuracy. This means they will be able to deliver their services faster and at less cost. This is goof for the profession and for the client.

Automation will be beneficial for professions that rely on many rigid routine systems. By automating these tasks with technology, the employees will be left free to focus on work that truly matters for the company.

As you can already guess, this has the potential to be extremely beneficial for management consultants and consulting firms.

We firmly believe that this will be the case for management consultants, but even if the future ends up being somewhat different, you will be glad to know that most future predictions are positive. By the late 2030s, widespread implementation of AI technologies will create more jobs than it replaces. This was the case with all previous industrial revolutions, and it will most likely be the case with the next one.

With every massive change, people worry that some new revolutionary technology or machine will replace humans. But in reality, after each of these revolutions was fully integrated into the way we do things, people either got new jobs or integrated the new technology with their existing professions.

That’s why we believe that management consultants will not in the foreseeable future be replaced by robots. But to stay current, management consultants, together with the other professions, will have to significantly change the way they work to stay competitive.

You will always need to continue learning and adapting to the changing world. You may not have taken the time to think about it, but you have always done this in the past, and you can expect to continue for the rest of your career. If you’re willing to continue to invest in your professional development, take a look at our eLearning programs and resources for management consultants. You never know what new knowledge or skill will benefit you in the future!

By: Dwight Mihalicz, CMC©