AI and IT Consultants: 2 Ways to Win Deals and Trust in the Coming Age of Automation

Daniel Faggella

Daniel Faggella is Head of Research at Emerj. Called upon by the United Nations, World Bank, INTERPOL, and leading enterprises, Daniel is a globally sought-after expert on the competitive strategy implications of AI for business and government leaders.

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Consultants and professional services leaders face one of the hardest times in business in the last century.

Sales are drying up, companies are pulling back budgets, millions are jobless, and the business world scrambles to find some solid ground for a “new normal.”

For consultants whose livelihoods depend on closing deals, delivering value, and maintaining lucrative contracts, the economic conditions alone make things challenging.

But the economy is one of two great threats.

The second challenge for consultants doubles as an opportunity: Technology priorities are changing quickly.

At Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research, we’re fortunate to have a finger on the pulse of enterprise priorities in real time. Our research connections, our renowned AI podcast (closing in quickly on 3 million total downloads), and our enterprise client list allow us to gather intelligence fast. At no time has that been more important than during the coronavirus crisis.

Through polls of hundreds of enterprise leaders, in-depth interviews with directors of strategy and innovation at some of the world’s largest companies, and conversation with countless startup leaders, the new priority is clear:


It goes by many names: “Getting lean”, “streamlining operations”, and above all else – “automation.”

The era of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be ushered in by sheer necessity, and enterprises know it.

Consultants with experience in specific IT domains or traditional means of “digital transformation” will find clients with entirely new demands and questions, and the vast majority of consultants will lose out.

Our research has lead us to two requirements that the COVID-19 era consultant must have:

Requirement 1: Use-Case and ROI Access

Peter Drucker, arguably the greatest and most influential business thinker of the twentieth century, said:

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Efficiency is certainly what companies are going to need, but they don’t know how to get it effectively – to do the right things with artificial intelligence and RPA.

Clients need to drive efficiencies, they need to automate operations, but they need to know what’s possible and what’s working to do it right.

The good news is that this does not involve the technical ability to code in python or build AI systems from scratch. It involves a strong grounding in digital transformation, which most consultants have.

The bad news is that most consultants do not have what clients will now need:

  • A clear map of AI and RPA use-cases
  • Precedents of cost and ROI across different RPA and AI applications
AI Capability Map
A partially redacted graphic taken from the Emerj Plus White Paper Library. Learn about our AI use-case library and best practice guides at Emerj Plus.

Client companies will want to use the technologies that work; they want to know what is already working.

Having a map of AI and RPA opportunity for individual sectors and individual business functions has never been more important.

While most consultants will flail to Google use-cases and have no ROI data to work with whatsoever, some consultants will be able to directly match clients’ new needs to the new AI and RPA capabilities that can help them immediately. The consultant who wins deals will be the consultant who can.

Requirement 2: A Plan from Crisis to Opportunity

Consultants need to set a new foundation of efficiency, and then advance forward – to win the marketplace.

As a consultant, you can’t be a one-time bandaid and expect to grow a business. You add more value to a client’s organization and earn more revenue when you can mold and shape a forward-looking vision with a client, and be a lasting part of their AI transformation journey.

Balancing Risk Reduction and Transformation in AI Initiatives
A graphic taken directly from The AI Business Continuity Roadmap – Critical Insights for Surviving Pandemic Disruption

Why do you think PwC, Accenture, Deloitte, and even McKinsey are pumping out AI “thought leadership” papers and paying for speaking slots at artificial intelligence conferences and events?

Because they know that over the next decade, trillions will be spent on AI transformation. Getting in as the trusted AI and RPA partner early on means access to lucrative long-term projects.

That means avoiding a bandaid approach and leveraging a strong understanding of AI use-cases to find near-term applications that help to build a foundation for long-term value, growth, and market share. This is a time to automate and drive efficiencies, but to develop new capabilities at the same time. These capabilities are what will define the winners and losers of the post-COVID-19 economy.

Consultants who can connect the dots between current ROI and near-term AI and RPA use-cases will not only help pull companies from peril and deliver tremendous value, they’ll guarantee a fruitful long-term partnership with clients.

Closing Deals and Delivering Value in Disruptive Times

In order to close deals in this new, disruptive era, consultants will need to approach clients differently, and they’ll need to bring a new set of skills and knowledge to the conversation to genuinely deliver value. That’s why we’ve put together a new guide just for AI and IT consultants called 3 Keys to Thriving in the Coming Era of Automation.

This guide provides consultants with a near-term plan to directly address the new needs of enterprise clients, helping them become a trusted partner in unprecedented times. Download your copy by clicking the banner below:

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