After years of the appearance of Large Language Models (LLMs), it has finally ignited a profound transformation in the realm of consultancy services, promising to redefine the very nature of how consultants approach their complex tasks. The impact of AI on consultancy services is akin to how smartphones revolutionized communication, bringing a new level of efficiency and capability to an established field. The recently published Harvard report (September 22, 2023) conducted in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group provides invaluable insights into the dynamics between consultants and GPT-4 AI across a large spectrum of tasks. The findings not only reveal the immense potential of AI in consultancy but also outlines its current limitations. Let’s explore them.

AI in Consultancy Services

AI strengths in consultancy services

Within the current technological frontier, AI emerges as a formidable ally to consultants, so, what is chatGPT good for? If we had to put it in a couple of words, the study showcases that AI is helping increase productivity, capacity and narrow the performance gap between consultants. They accomplished 12.2% more tasks and executed them with an astounding 25.1% increase in speed. Notably, those initially performing below the average threshold exhibited an impressive 43% improvement, demonstrating AI’s transformative potential in leveling performance discrepancies.

AI limitations in consultancy services

It is imperative to recognize the boundaries of AI’s capabilities and the current risks of solely relying on derived tools such as ChatGPT. Consultants employing AI for endeavors that fall beyond its current frontier were 19pp less likely to produce accurate solutions compared to their non-AI counterparts. Moreover, it is crucial to acknowledge that AI, while powerful, is not operatively a panacea – yet. Over reliance on AI can inadvertently hold back creativity, human judgment, and the consideration of nuanced information, which are integral aspects of the consultative process.

Additionally, recent scholarship has outlined the curse of recursion, elucidated in a paper published this year by Airxiv. This phenomenon suggests that relying too heavily on AI could create a cycle where human involvement diminishes, potentially leading to a negative impact on the quality of the outcome. Furthermore, privacy concerns are currently in the spotlight, adhering to rigorous privacy policies and ethical considerations becomes essential to safeguard both consultant and client interests.

Optimize AI integration in Consultancy Services

The key to harnessing the full potential of AI in consultancy services is adopting a balanced and strategic approach. This involves a new discussion on when and how to integrate AI, emphasizing its role as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, human cognition.

In theory, the utilization of AI may seem pretty straightforward: identifying tasks within AI’s capabilities and leveraging its strengths accordingly. However, for tasks that fall beyond its current boundary, a call for judicious fusion of human expertise and AI support seems to be the way to go.

In practice, two key aspects need to be assessed:

WHEN | Task selection: Currently, there are many tasks that fall out of the AI frontier and many tasks for which leveraging excessively AI tools can lead to worse quality results. Defining and limiting which tasks should be delegated to or enhanced by AI is an essential guide to how to use tools such as ChatGPT.

HOW | Paradigms of Human-AI collaboration: The Harvard report introduces two pivotal models: “Centaurs” and “Cyborgs”. Centaurs divide and delegate specific activities between themselves and the AI, while Cyborgs seamlessly integrate AI into their operations, actively guiding the AI tool towards achieving a seamless fusion of human and AI-generated output. Navigating between these paradigms represents another crucial dimension.

For the time being, it is essential that both individual consultants and organizations recalibrate their understanding of the human-AI partnership, ensuring they adopt a strategy that harnesses AI to gain consultancy excellence.As AI-based tools continue to evolve, alongside shifts in privacy regulations and operational methodologies, it is essential to adopt an agile approach to ensure that consultants stay at the forefront of leveraging AI effectively in their practice.

Mayi Echeveste Platform Thinking expert at Nucleoo

Written by

Mayi Echeveste Schredelseker – Client Strategy and Growth Executive