Where Are Professional Services Headed?

The Role of Technology and AI in the Service Industry

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are improving the way high-quality services are provided to customers. Considering firms are increasingly using them for their projects, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being applied more and more to carry out highly complex tasks, processes, and decisions in various fields, including medicine, accounting, legal, and consulting. Technological developments will further speed up the service-providing processes of professional service providers and may even be a game-changer. Technology enables more externalization in that certain professional services can be delivered equally well through collaboration, free online platforms, or fee-based services. The development and arrival of social networks for clients, with peer-to-peer advice and crowdsourcing mechanics, will further challenge the industry's craftsmanship character.

The Influence of Technology on Clients

The lockdowns caused by the pandemic across the world have accelerated new ways of doing business and communicating with customers. Improved communications with clients in the virtual sphere, and better virtual communication methods will further extend a firm’s market reach and provide them with opportunities to connect with their clients at a global level. Clients and firms will become more aligned in terms of principles, relationships, price-risk sharing, and business models. They will keep increasing their in-house capabilities through highly specialized staff, improved processes, and more task-automation opportunities.

The Future of Firms

Firms must continuously improve their business model, such as transforming some practice into productive services, offering self-service options, sharing knowledge base, etc. Striving to demonstrate more of the value upfront, since the “traditional” face-to-face will tend to be less frequent. Such consistent changes require culture and mindset changes and very flexible organizational structures. When implementing new technologies, firms should think less and do more, be less risk-averse, and implement trial-and-error approaches.

The Roles and Talents in Future Firms

A firm’s talent strategies will be key in dealing with future challenges and the core model as the sourcing and use of talent must change. As geographic borders begin to fade with the increasing use of technology, firms must increasingly tap into internal and external mobile talents across markets and regions. In addition, as the trend of both partners in a family having a professional career is likely to continue, firms will have to offer more “work-life integrations” as recruiting and retaining talent will become more competitive.

New Business Models in the Industry: Consulting Firms

New ownership models are likely to be introduced and spread across all firms in the professional services industry. Access to legal services through membership is also quickly rising at a global scale. Learning sites, free online courses, medical advisory services, health experts, auction sites, digital newspapers and platforms, crowdsourcing, freelancing sites and platforms, and online accounting platforms, are all growing with the help of substantially supportive online communities. An increase in independent consultants is also proving to be a major competitive force. The rapid rise of independent consultants is accelerated, not surprisingly, by the increase in the number of freelancer portals and platforms.

The Impact of Automation in the Business Processes of Service Firms

With the rise of AI, the automation of consultancy work could become an even greater reality. The tasks that would have been performed by teams of smart junior analysts can now be performed by a machine in a matter of minutes. All businesses thrive on relationships, but professional services firms are uniquely driven by client needs. This might require gruesome traveling, pulling an all-nighter at the office, or working onsite for weeks, months, or even years.

Thought Leadership: An Approach to make Firms Unique

Leading professional services firms develop world-class executive visibility plans to promote awareness, establish credibility, and stand out from the crowd. Specifically, an executive visibility plan draws out individual personalities within a leadership team, which ensures that the company is not perceived as having a single robotic corporate voice. Each professional should have a thought-provoking perspective on issues and strive to add to the conversation. This warrants the application of an amalgamation of various strategic initiatives that helps build a strong executive visibility plan and investment of necessary resources to ensure that the firm is distinguishable. Careful planning, thoughtful execution, and hard work will help achieve the most successful and measurable business outcomes. In thought leadership, content is king! Companies that are serious about building reputation work hard every day to be opportunistic as well as thoughtful, look at ways to put themselves into the trending conversations while building “set pieces” into a calendar that consider surveys, white papers, conferences, webinars, podcasts, and more. Besides bringing new ideas, media relationships, and strong writing to the table, strong communicators also play the crucial roles of “convener” and “challenger-in-chief,” assembling people from different areas to discuss the latest news and asking how new ideas, products, or services are tied to the firm’s mission, objectives, or central messages. To find out more about CRM technologies, give us a call today. At Solutions Metrix, we know how to build relevant CRM strategies and solutions. We look forward to partnering with you to achieve your business plans.