Consultants set to cash in on march of the robots
Consultants to cash in on march of robots

Consultants set to cash in on march of the robots

Eight out of ten US corporates have begun investing time and money into robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) – and the same proportion plan to use third-party consultants to help them develop these technologies.

That’s according to a report released today by Source Global Research, which focuses on trends and emerging opportunities for the the global management consulting industry. The company polled 150 companies in the US interested in RPA and AI, over 100 of which have more than 5,000 employees.

Read more: IIoT and the rise of the cobots

Strategic advice needed

The reasons why corporates said they are deploying these technologies include improving process efficiency (60 percent), better customer engagement (57 percent) and developing new products (48 percent).

According to Source Global Research, these corporates are most likely to turn to consultants for advice on how best to take advantage of these technologies at a strategic level, with 64 percent confirming this will be the case.

“Corporates are still in planning mode, so the challenge for consulting firms is to ensure that the practical applications of RPA and AI outside the technology function are recognized right across the board,” said Fiona Czerniawska of Source Global Consulting.

“All the money that’s clearly going into thought leadership on this subject will have been well-spent if it achieves this objective.”

Read more: Consumers welcome workplace AI & robotics, says ARM

Which consultants to turn to?

When it comes to the type of consultants that corporates will turn to for support and advice, the report finds that technology firms will likely lead the way, with one in four respondents expecting their company to use a technology firm. This compares to 16 percent choosing a ‘Big Four’ management consultancy firm; namely Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers or Deloitte. Seventeen percent, meanwhile, expect to use a strategy firm, such as McKinsey or AT Kearney.

But it’s still early days, as Jonatan Matsson, an AT Kearney partner points out: “From an AI perspective, what we’ve seen today is that clients need advice to understand the technology and its potential implications on their business models. What approach should they take; should they invest in pilots; what are the threats and what are the opportunities? For the moment, it’s less about implementation in this space.”