In 2021, 86% of businesses said that artificial intelligence (AI) has become a “mainstream technology” at their organization, a PwC study revealed.
Clearly, AI, once thought of as the stuff of futuristic books and movies, is becoming more of a reality, touching myriad industries.
Today, it’s not limited to tech companies. Professional services, including law, art and architecture, accounting, consulting, medicine, finance, education, engineering, and many others, are now leveraging technology to accomplish complex tasks and achieve their goals.
It’s not necessary to undergo a complete digital transformation to tap into the power of AI — although it certainly plays a fundamental role if you do go that route. Individual tools can also help you boost your technological ecosystem, whether you’re a startup or a seasoned organization.
What is artificial intelligence?
Now, many of the tools and products we use every day are powered by AI. Some examples of use cases are:
- Facial recognition
- Healthcare management and tracking
- Natural language processing
- Self-driving cars
- Social media monitoring
- Text editing
- Virtual assistants
- Voice assistance
You’ve probably heard of machine learning, a subfield of AI that does not require human intervention — machines learn to recognize and understand patterns, better equipping them to make decisions and predict the future. Meanwhile, deep learning is a subfield of machine learning that leverages algorithms, also used by ML, to make higher-level decisions independently, mirroring complex human thinking.
But AI is a broad field describing technology that essentially uses data to function on its own, completing tasks as well as or, in some cases, even better than humans can.
Thanks to big data, AI can begin to teach machines how to behave and function to make decisions and keep learning. Essentially, the more data the machine has, the better equipped it is to perform a variety of initiatives and optimize processes without human intervention, and the more accurate it will be.
How is it used in professional services?
AI has already had a huge impact on many different fields, including manufacturing, farming, and retail. It also has implications for professional services, offering benefits like greater efficiency and productivity, lower costs, less frustration, and time savings.
In some cases, AI technology can augment or assist humans with responsibilities, such as performing calculations, combing files to find information, and automating rote tasks. In others, it can replace humans altogether. As it becomes more sophisticated, it can perform with increasing levels of complexity.
For example, lawyers can use AI technology to comb documents to discern and uncover key data to better inform their cases and decisions. Human resources can use AI-driven software to automate time-tracking and review resumes through applicant tracking systems, which spot relevant phrases and keywords to identify potentially suitable candidates. The financial sector can detect fraudulent activity. And businesses of many types can leverage it to track data and analytics in real-time.
Ultimately, AI has the power to optimize and automate a huge array of business processes, all toward the ultimate goal of better business outcomes.
AI solutions offer numerous benefits to project lifecycles and the entire health of professional services organizations. Discover how it can plan an instrumental role in decision-making, plans, implementation of key initiatives, and beyond.
Automate time-consuming tasks
Automation tools, which uses AI technology, streamline time-consuming processes, reduce workloads and take care of rote tasks that are often cumbersome for professionals, from scheduling appointments to combing data to reporting to project planning.
Keep your business secure
AI has enormous implications for cybersecurity. Using the technology, you can pinpoint vulnerabilities and prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing your systems. Financial services, for example, are using voice and facial recognition software to ensure that they and only have access to their accounts and other sensitive data.
You’ve probably already used this technology — it’s how you unlock your phone every day! — so you understand the potential it has to improve your business’ security.
Institute a more accurate pricing model
Business models depend on the accurate pricing of your products and services. Analytics, derived from AI tools that comb your data, will help you see how specific initiatives are panning out. You will see the business value of the products and services you put out in real-time, as well as visualize the efficacy of various campaigns.
Moreover, because AI can streamline and automate tasks, employees have more time to engage in efforts that require human intelligence to complete. Thus, you are better able to maximize the business value of your work and services — hence increasing profitability and optimizing workflows.
Identify top performers at your organization
A professional services firm demands top talents and skills. What’s more, it’s essential to maximize the value of these qualities by using them to their full potential. Fortunately, using AI, you can find out how and what each employee is contributing to your organization and individual projects. This will encourage you to better divvy up the work and assign tasks appropriately.
You can also use AI systems and tools in your hiring process, pinpointing those with the correct skillsets for the job. In addition, you will be better equipped to onboard employees and improve employee development.
Enhance customer service
Chatbots, voice assistance platforms, and more will optimize and enhance customer experience and service in a variety of ways. Every day, representatives across sectors — healthcare, legal services, and more — spend countless hours fielding questions and concerns from clients and consumers. This is time that they could better use on more meaningful projects, ones that technology is not up to the task of handling (yet).
AI can respond to these concerns in real-time, aiding customers and giving them the information they need immediately. You’ve probably experienced this already, such as when you’ve attempted to track a missing package from Amazon.
When queries become too complex for machines to handle independently, they can call for a human assist — ensuring that clients and consumers receive optimal service.
AI has the potential to improve efficiency and streamline operations tenfold. There are plenty of ways to leverage AI for project management, ensuring that your projects are moving along at the appropriate speed and that you are meeting goals. You can also use AI tools for resource management, making certain that you’re properly utilizing and leveraging the right materials and personnel for your initiatives.
Better anticipate scope
Understanding the scope of your projects is important for establishing factors like timelines, budget, resource allocation, and more. Without understanding the scope upfront, you could fall victim to scope creep later on. This occurs when the scope, including new goals and requirements, extends beyond your initial estimates. Even if you’ve established the scope in the early stages of the project, scope creep can occur.
Scope creep happens because of any number of factors, such as unclear objectives, unfounded client expectations, and a lack of data to back up and support your requirements. Remember that AI is data-driven and can therefore help professional services teams better pinpoint project scope.
For one, it can assess data from previous data to derive insights, such as the amount of time individual tasks typically take and the usual skill sets workers need to accomplish individual responsibilities. It can also keep track of performance and alert you as to whether team members are reaching milestones and benchmarks according to your timeline.
Allocate resources appropriately
Resource allocation is an important part of project management in any field. AI tools allow you to review data sets to determine which types of resources you need to complete the various tasks and responsibilities your team has on its plate. This will help you financially since you will understand where to spend your money, and improve your productivity and efficiency.
No project is without its risks, and AI won’t completely remove them from the process. However, it can improve predictability by offering up key metrics that will improve your forecasting and reduce the potential for failure during your processes, thus allowing you to make better decisions about the evolution of your projects and your entire organization.
Moreover, many professional services organizations are governed by structures and rules — healthcare, legal services, and technology fields to name a few — and need to stay compliant. There are myriad ways AI can offer an assist. For example, organizations can use AI-powered tools to check for and review new rules and regulations in the field or industry and alert leaders about these changes, so they are equipped to stay abreast of the information they need to know.
Will AI replace humans?
We are likely far from a time when AI could replace humans entirely, despite the headway we’ve made on AI projects of all types.
In fields like manufacturing, customer service, retail, and construction, we’ve seen how AI can augment the work of humans. But even in these hands-on sectors, we have yet to see machines take work away from employees. It has not supplanted the labor of these workers but rather streamlined their efforts.
This is even truer in the professional services sector. While AI is taking rote, cumbersome tasks off of the plates of professionals in roles that demand a high level of skill, the technology is not yet capable of achieving real, human intelligence. This is certainly the case in fields that demand creativity, such as marketing, but it’s also true of fields that require precision and a high degree of knowledge and intelligence, like healthcare.
We’re a long way from seeing machines replace humans, but that doesn’t mean AI isn’t overhauling the professional services sector — and changing it for the better.