Is AI The Foundation For The Future Of Professional Services?

Stephen Hollier

Those of us in the professional services industry have a choice: Disrupt or be disrupted. New technologies are already changing the way operations are run and have the huge potential to drastically change the way the industry functions in the future. Companies must be prepared to embrace this or be left behind.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are just two of the technologies that are currently having a significant impact on today’s enterprise. And the appetite is growing. More than one-fifth of UK businesses have already invested in AI projects so far, with more set to follow: over 80% of UK businesses expect to invest in the coming years.

Of course, the common misconceptions of AI have been well discussed—that it will lead to robots taking all of our jobs in the future. The McKinsey Global Institute has confirmed this, predicting that by 2030, up to 375 million people, or 14% of the global workforce, could have their jobs automated.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of being viewed as a negative, AI and machine learning offer numerous opportunities for enterprises to transform and improve across the board, thereby creating new opportunities for everyone. Last month, at the SAP Ultimate Showcase—Transforming Services Industries in a Digital EconomySAP leaders and customers shared their views on the key trends affecting the professional services industry. Here’s a snapshot of the findings discussed:

Ultimate Showcase asset

So how should businesses take advantage of these trends to create the intelligent enterprise of the future? Let’s take a look at the key trends affecting the professional services industry.

The impact of hyper-automation

At present, most of the automation taking place within professional services is centered around robotic process automation and the automation of routine tasks that can save time and reduce costs.  Increasingly, AI and machine learning will enable innovation and differentiation in product and service offerings.

Delaware International is an example of a company that has embraced automation and is seeing tangible benefits as a result. Speaking at the Ultimate Showcase, CFO Veronique Derycke discussed how the use of a next-generation cloud ERP platform has allowed Delaware to automate its processes to increase productivity among its 2,000 employees. By doing this, the consultancy received real-time reporting of its global operations, allowing it to effectively optimize its resources across markets and provide a higher level of service for its customers.


Changing the composition of the workforce

In the coming years, AI will evolve to automate more complicated tasks, which will allow professional services enterprises to reduce costs further and focus on delivering efficient, consistent, high-quality service—which is the basis of any intelligent enterprise.

To do that, a fundamental shift in the workforce will take place from existing employees to a structure focused around contingent workers. Eric van Rossum, global VP of Professional Services at SAP, believes that in the future, 30-50% of professional services enterprises will be made up of non-employees, consultants, or temporary contractors.

The Impact of Automation and Changing Workforce

Legal services talent company UpCounsel has already made this shift. It has dispatched the notion of the traditional law firm by utilizing technology and automation to drive down costs, removing the need for junior staff and giving customers access to what they actually want: a competent lawyer that they can afford. By doing this, they can provide a greater level of service at a reduced cost compared to the traditional law firm.

To see the full highlights from the SAP Ultimate Showcase for Professional Services, you can view the full presentations here. You can also follow us for more news and insights on Twitter.

Stephen Hollier

About Stephen Hollier

Stephen Hollier is the Industry Lead for Professional Services Industry at SAP UK & Ireland. He is responsible for driving SAP’s overall strategy for this sector and advising customers on digital transformation, value management and becoming the Next Generation Intelligent Enterprise.