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Unlocking the Potential of Generative AI in Professional Services: Lessons from ALTA Consulting

At ALTA Consulting, our journey into the world of Generative AI has been both enlightening and transformative. Through our extensive involvement in projects across urban planning, consulting, and training, we've uncovered the profound impact Generative AI can have on professional services firms. This article shares our key learnings and experiences, emphasizing the transformative role of Generative AI in facilitating digital transformation within mid-market professional services firms.

Generative AI
The Potential of Generative AI in Professional Services

The Transformative Power of Generative AI

Generative AI is not just a buzzword; it's a game-changer for professional services. It empowers firms to streamline operations, boost productivity, and deliver exceptional value to clients. Our projects have shown that embracing Generative AI can lead to significant benefits, including:

1. Improved Consultative Productivity

Generative AI enables consultants to focus on high-value tasks by automating routine and repetitive activities. This leads to increased productivity and allows consultants to dedicate more time to strategic thinking and client engagement.

2. Enhanced Leverage on Projects

Professional services firms can leverage Generative AI to augment their teams' capabilities. AI-powered tools assist in data analysis, research, and content generation, providing a competitive edge in project delivery.

3. Improved Profitability

By reducing manual labor and streamlining processes, Generative AI contributes to improved profitability. It optimizes resource allocation and ensures efficient project execution.

4. Faster Onboarding of New Consultants

Generative AI tools can serve as knowledge repositories, expediting the onboarding process for new consultants. They can access AI-generated insights and recommendations, accelerating their learning curve.

5. Accelerator for Service Productization

Generative AI facilitates the productization of services by automating the creation of standardized deliverables, such as reports and documents. This allows firms to scale their offerings efficiently.

6. Reduced Direct Labor Costs

Automating tasks through Generative AI reduces the reliance on manual labor, leading to cost savings and improved cost-effectiveness.

Key Learnings from ALTA Consulting

Our journey in the Generative AI space has taught us several valuable lessons that professional services firms should consider when embarking on similar projects:

1. Embrace Standard Solutions

Lesson: The Generative AI landscape evolves rapidly. To stay ahead, consider leveraging standard off-the-shelf capabilities in Large Language Models  (LLM) platforms. Customized solutions may become obsolete quickly.

Example: Imagine a law firm looking to automate the process of drafting legal documents using Generative AI. Instead of investing in a custom AI model, they opt for a widely-used solution that offers pre-trained models specifically designed for legal document generation. This decision ensures that the firm benefits from the latest advancements in legal AI without the risk of their custom solution becoming outdated.

2. Beware of Custom Models

Lesson: Customizing AI models can be costly and unpredictable. It's challenging to estimate the effort required, potentially leading to excessive costs. Prioritize cost-effective solutions.

Example: A management consulting firm decides to develop a custom Generative AI model for market research reports. However, the project takes longer than anticipated, resulting in increased development costs. In contrast, they could have used an existing AI-powered research tool that offers cost-effective, off-the-shelf capabilities, allowing them to deliver reports more efficiently.

3. View it as a Process Design Initiative

Lesson: Treat your Generative AI project as a process design initiative. Identify high-value tasks that can be automated to maximize the value generated.

Example: An accounting firm aims to enhance its audit process using Generative AI. Instead of solely focusing on automating the entire audit, they identify specific high-value tasks like data extraction, trend analysis, and risk assessment. By automating these tasks, they streamline the audit process, reduce errors, and provide clients with more accurate financial insights.

4. Include Education and Training

Lesson: Client knowledge about Generative AI is often limited. Include education and training as part of the consulting process to empower clients with the necessary understanding.

Example: A marketing consultancy introduces Generative AI for content creation to their clients. As part of their service, they conduct training sessions for their clients' marketing teams. These sessions cover the basics of Generative AI, content guidelines, and how to effectively collaborate with AI-generated content. This proactive approach ensures clients are comfortable with the technology and can maximize its benefits.

5. Plan for Change Management

Lesson: Automating tasks will inevitably change how people work. Develop a robust change management plan to prepare teams for the upcoming changes and ensure smooth transitions.

Example: A human resources consulting firm implements Generative AI for resume screening. The transition involves training HR staff to work alongside AI algorithms. A change management plan is put in place, including communication, training, and ongoing support. HR professionals are gradually introduced to the AI system, ensuring a smooth transition and minimal disruption to their workflow.

6. Explore AI Automation Tools

Lesson: Consider AI automation tools like Microsoft Co-pilot to complement your Generative AI initiatives. These tools can enhance productivity and efficiency.

Example: An IT consulting company adopts Generative AI for code generation in software development projects. To boost productivity further, they integrate Microsoft Co-pilot into their development environment. Co-pilot assists developers by providing code suggestions, speeding up the coding process, and reducing errors.

7. Develop a Clear Project Process

Lesson: Establish a well-defined process for your Generative AI project. This process should encompass Generative AI foundations, use case analysis, ROI and benefit analysis, alignment with strategy, stakeholder management, change management, and communication planning.

Example: A financial advisory firm embarks on a Generative AI project to automate financial report generation. Their project process includes defining clear objectives, assessing the ROI of automating report creation, aligning AI implementation with the firm's strategic goals, managing stakeholders' expectations, and having a structured change management plan in place. This comprehensive approach ensures a successful project outcome.

8. Embrace an Iterative Approach

Lesson: An iterative approach works best for developing and testing prompts in Generative AI projects. It allows for continuous improvement and refinement of AI-generated content.

Example: A market research consultancy adopts Generative AI to generate consumer survey questions. They start with a set of initial prompts and continually gather feedback from clients and respondents. Based on this feedback, they iterate on the prompts, making them more specific and effective in gathering valuable insights. This iterative process ensures that the AI-generated questions align with the research objectives.

In conclusion, Generative AI has the potential to transform the professional services industry. ALTA Consulting's experiences have shown that by embracing this technology and adhering to best practices, firms can enhance productivity, profitability, and client satisfaction. It's time for professional services firms to embark on their Generative AI journey and unlock its limitless possibilities.

For those poised to harness the full potential of Generative AI, we invite you to connect with ALTA Consulting. Our comprehensive suite of services is meticulously crafted to navigate you towards AI mastery, positioning your firm at the cutting edge of innovation. Reach out to us today to embark on a transformative journey into the future of professional services.

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