AI and management consulting: Hand in hand or eyeball to eyeball?

The current technological revolution is well underway and shows no signs of slowing down. Steering the ship: information technology, AI and machine learning are all at full speed ahead, travelling to every nook of every continent. The global machine learning market is projected to grow from $7.3B in 2020 to $30.6B in 2024, but at what cost?

Global Machine Learning Market, by Component, 2017–2024 (USD Million)

As an industry focused on data collection, analysis and interpretation, management consulting has long-since possessed cutting-edge tech and complex software systems to maintain its specialism. So, what happens when tools and software, such as Google Analytics, Statista, Tableau and Domo, become globally accessible? Organisations can now promptly and effortlessly generate reports and insights into various business areas- a task once placed in the hands of consultants.

Are companies becoming less dependent on consultants?

Rapid digitization has shifted many decision-making practices from humans to machines. With countless software and tools out in the open for a company to explore, the need for consultants is questioned. Many are now investing in software-enabled systems that obediently track, log and store data. Companies are increasingly choosing to develop in-house AI departments, causing a reduction in the dependence on consultants.

There has been an awakening within companies, opening their eyes to see the significance of data and choosing to collect more of it on their own. Public software can analyse massive amounts of complex data, gifting businesses with deep insights at a fraction of the cost and time that a consultant would.

Will AI take over the role of a management consultant?

The industry is facing a whole new pool of competitors, from Google, Microsoft and data science pros. How can management consultants compete against cheap, often even free, rivals? One prediction is that a huge shift will take place in terms of the services being delivered. The role of a management consultant will no longer be to collect and analyse information but to make sense of the information that client’s extract for themselves.

Consulting firms may have to prepare for a significant decline in client’s willingness to pay for services. Consultants could have to shift their efforts to intangible services such as mentoring, coaching and negotiating to survive industrial changes. 

Despite fierce competition from fresh rivals, management consulting still retains its unique capabilities. For example, external influences are endlessly altering due to the very nature of reality and society, which cannot yet be covered by an AI system. Human’s don’t have to be coded to know that there’s a global pandemic influencing every aspect of business, they’re living it.

Even obtaining a state-of-the-art AI-powered solution, equipped with endless data, doesn’t mean that the business will be able to realise the best solution. A huge and unique part of management consulting is formulating and implementing the correct solution in an organisation, relative to the context and external pressures, which AI is yet to mimic. 

An opportunity for expertise

The industries top players have already displayed innovative reactions to the shift and certainly aren’t afraid of change, embracing it as an opportunity for expertise. The development of BCG Gamma has shown that the surge in AI availability to the public is expanding the need for specialised and specific services. BCG has long been well-known as an employer of the best-of-the-best professionals, with unmatched human capital being at the forefront of its USP. The company is continuing to show the value of its employees, while simultaneously acquiring innovative tech companies to maintain its unrivalled resources.

Management consulting firms should choose to continually invest in and advance its business‐domain capabilities- such as coaching, mentoring and negotiating. With this, companies can continue to customise solutions and technology to meet the requirements of clients and provide superior value.

The opportunity of management consultants lies within these unique capabilities that cannot be matched by AI. As AI availability continues to flourish, survival lies within being able to prove to clients why outsourcing these services is more favourable overall. For BCG, unmatched human capital triumphs. How will you prove it?

Universal IDs: Sharing is caring in AdTech

Identity fuels the AdTech ecosystem, allowing user individualisation to remain at the heart of digital advertising. The ability to have an ID means we can cross-connect devices, while linking online and offline user profiles and behaviours (onboarding) through Ad-Tracking. Unless you happen to be a digital advertising giant like Facebook or Google, access to this identity is given through third-party cookies and mobile advertising IDs. 

Cookies- fragments of code that track and store online customer journeys- allow advertisers to target users with personalised ads based on previously collected data. So, what happens to the not-so-giant industry players when privacy clamps down and restrictions tighten their grip? Google’s decision to remove third-party cookies from Chrome was the ultimate threat. How can small advertisers remain intact as we watch the cookie crumble?

The cookie-monster’s tracks have paved a path towards partnership. The current situation calls for collaboration to keep the ecosystem healthy for the far side of the pandemic.

The demise of third-party cookies

In a strive to generate relevant online consumer experiences, advertisers increasingly depended on data collection through cookies, identifying valuable audiences to target. Advancements in programmatic advertising and technology triggered the adoption and application of identity solutions. Progressively, privacy concerns deepened, with consumers rightfully demanding control and consent. Online users were no longer prepared to have their browsing histories and journeys watched like a hawk. So, the cookie-pocolypse commenced.

Of course, tailored digital advertising will continue. The removal of third-party cookies, combined with the tightening of GDPR privacy regulations, is set to bring about better transparency and control in the industry as a whole. Hopefully, the future of the digital advertising space will place privacy and trust at the top of the hierarchy. 

Shared identity solutions

So, what are agencies, marketing teams, publishers, ad tech, and ad platforms doing to replace cookie-based marketing? 

Universal ID’s have been signalled as the top solution to manage identity and online targeting as third-party cookies decline. Essentially, Universal IDs are identifiers used by parties for both identification and targeting. The solutions can make it easier to identify the same user across various platforms. For marketers and brands operating in the programmatic advertising space, there are thousands of providers with their own cookie and device-based IDs. A Universal ID solution allows these to be matched with other providers to identify the same user in order for the entire digital marketing ecosystem to function successfully.

Essentially, these new universal IDs are ‘shared identity solutions’ without the need for a third-party software to sync information and data like it has done in the past. The ultimate purpose is for the same ID to be shared between publishers and advertisers, providing a common advertising technology language that can be understood by all those involved.

The importance of collaborating with the right partners is critical for the future of advertising technology. The chance for synergy allows for a collective industry shift, focusing on transparency, honesty and privacy-compliant practices. Now, more than ever, partnerships form a path to mutual success.  

Impacts on the loyalty loop

The current spike in online traffic offers a golden opportunity for calls to action- such as getting customers to sign-up to newsletters or follow social media channels. This can increase lifetime value for publishers through taking care of audiences and ensuring that they remain loyal.

More than ever, publishers swing their focus to gaining loyal audiences. Publishers have a safe space to store their audience’s data and information. The new environment will demand high levels of data control, with programmatic safe havens becoming a necessity. Modern consumers value personalised brand experiences, and with access to data and information, publishers and advertisers can provide this. What the modern consumer also wants is transparency. Many are happy to consent to providing and sharing their data, but in return companies need to be open and honest as to how this information will be stored and used. 

Advice moving forward

Currently, publishers and advertisers alike are struggling with huge shifts in the industry, with closures and high furlough causing a struggle for many. Remember, crisis is a catalyst for change, and this occasion should be used to take care of audiences through using data in a non-abrasive, mutually beneficial way. The lifetime value of customers is becoming increasingly important, with the opportunity for publishers and advertisers to have a resurgence and form allegiance. Now is the time to shine.