Toward disruption of consultancy

Author: Augustin Boer, CMC
             BDO Business Advisory, Romania

The consultancy is changing… We are too busy to notice but every month the approach and expectation of different stakeholders toward consultancy is changing. Most of the clients are expecting answers and solutions faster and faster and they are living with impression that a consultant is focusing all the time on their task and, when they have a comment of questions or request, everybody will focus exclusively to answers them in the shortest period (yesterday, if possible). We are moving toward “just-in-time” consultancy when the answers and solution should be provided with high accuracy and in the shortest period of time. This creates the premises of involvement, faster than anticipated, of artificial intelligence (AI) into the consultancy business and even use approaches from business process automation (BPA).

There are numerous fields of consultancy where the senior experts are fewer every year and there is not a new wave coming to replace them. The people are not willing to specialize in specific fields which are considered obsolete and with limited future opportunities (e.g. engineering in water infrastructure, solid waste management, etc.) being attracted to more modern and dynamic fields (e.g. IT, virtual reality, IoT, etc.) and preferring diversification of fields. In the context of decreasing of qualified available experts and maintenance of level of work, there are significant premises for starting the automation of specialized technical and financial consultancy. The business process automation is on an increasing pattern being the new hottest trend in software services leaded by UiPath (which is expected to reach a valuation of 10 billion USD this year, considering that 4 years ago it was an apartment company from Romania). Most probably, in the near future, the international engineering company will start developing software programs that should replace junior and even experience consultants leading toward consultancy services provided by senior consultants and specialized software. Same trend is expected for financial consultancy where the Excel spreadsheets will be replaced by advances software based on business process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learnings. The multinational consultancy companies have a historical data base of projects that can be presented in a standardized way, the data and information from clients are more and more standardized and available in electronic format which can be used, using specialized software, to provide consultancy solutions and reports. The road to consultancy based on advanced business process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence is already open and it is a matter of time until will be transformed into a highway…

The next technological leap will be to allow software solutions developed by different consultancy companies to communicate among them to find the optimum solution. This can represent a challenge in the early stages due to copyright and confidentiality. In order to allow this and to assure copyright protection, most probably a blockchain solution will have to be developed to allow the online storage of consultancy ideas and solutions provided by different consulting companies in one big data base available worldwide. In this future environment, the best consulting companies will be the ones that develop the best instruments (software) and set the search criterion (human brains behind the machine) to search the worldwide data base for solutions that can be customized for a particular case. The blockchain technology will allow the protection of copyright of solution and when one company will want to use the solutions developed by another company, will have to pay royalties. In this way, the future consultancy budgets will comprise of consultancy fees as we know them today (to pay the work of human brains), the consultancy fee to pay for the IT instruments (software) activity and royalty payments for the ideas “borrowed” from the worldwide consultancy data base.

The disruption of consultancy services is already starting, and it is determined by the changes in behavior of clients, day by day. Fast consultancy (just-in-time) is not possible only for human consultants without a major software and artificial intelligence involvement and there is only a matter of time until the Silicon Valley will identify this new multi-billion industry as an attractive target for disruption.