Generative AI: It's basically become part of every conversation

  • Posted on August 9, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Generative AI in professional services

Imagine being able to jettison those tiresome, time-consuming aspects of your job that prevent you from using your time more effectively. Envision finding insights currently hidden deep within your company’s data that spark ideas for new products and expanded business opportunities. What would it be like to start each day with a fresh wave new ideas about how you can leverage your creativity to help your clients?

Generative AI, a technology that is sweeping through industries as disparate as financial services, healthcare and manufacturing, promises all this and more, as it transforms how business gets done. What does this new technology mean for the field of professional services? And where is it gaining traction? Avanade recently invited leaders from a wide range of top professional services firm to an executive knowledge-sharing roundtable to learn from their insights.

Several areas of consensus rapidly emerged:

  • When used to automate routine tasks to free time for more complex activities, generative AI offers a chance to do more with less. Making the most of valuable personnel emerged as a top interest. “This is a unique opportunity,” one participant said. “The reality in the professional services world is that folks who have significant skills in our area are constrained resources. The more we can empower them with the tools that generative AI is starting to bring to bear really increases our business opportunity.”

  • Strong governance and security must be a priority. “Our data is so sensitive that it has to be protected,” a participant said, expressing the opinion of many. “The thought of using open-source generative AI is really a non-starter at this point, because our information cannot get into the public domain, cannot be used by others for machine learning capabilities. That just cannot happen.”

    This commitment to data security doesn’t mean companies are not using AI. Many say they are educating themselves, exploring and identifying where it makes sense to use the technology, often starting with internal processes. However, even when working with clients, “we can do modeling, look at specific client data to gain insights and provide information and direction for them on various products and projects,” one person said.

    The concern about the safety of open-source generative AI is one reason companies are turning to companies such as Microsoft, which has incorporated generative AI and other related technologies into its Azure services platform. Within that platform, security and compliance standards are baked in. “You control your destiny and your data,” said Tim Groulx, global AI and Internet of Things (IoT) lead for Avanade. “Nothing gets shared with anyone over open source. Anything that you train within the model stays only within your system. Nothing ever gets shared back to the foundational platform or with anybody else. It's all very safe and isolated.”

  • Humans must remain at the center of generative AI development and deployment. Humans must stay at the center of generative AI development, Avanade’s Tim Groulx said, reflecting participants concerns about quality control. “This technology should not replace developers. It should augment developers, making them more efficient.”

    Examples of the most common professional services use cases included scaling program management programs, creating first drafts of project plans and status reports, and enhancing customer service activities.

    Interest in and enthusiasm for generative AI is high, the roundtable participants agreed. The key to successful expanded deployment of generative AI in professional services will be similar to other rollouts of new technology:

    • Consider bringing on board a technology partner with deep expertise
    • Identify areas where generative AI can create meaningful impact
    • Make sure adequate governance, security and safeguards are in place
    • Create training curriculums and controlled opportunities to practice
    • Test using pilots before moving to broader deployments
    • Share the news of your successes internally to gain acceptance

Based on Accenture research 40% of all working hours can be impacted by large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4.

Unlock the power of generative AI every step of the way for your firm with our phased approach 2/2/2 or strategy assessment. Contact Karen McAteer, to learn more.

Avanade, Accenture, and Microsoft have teamed up to lead the way in promoting the responsible use of Generative AI. By combining Avanade's AI Organizational Readiness Framework with Accenture's Center for Advanced AI, we're laying the groundwork for a future where innovation is both groundbreaking and conducted with utmost safety and responsibility, on a grand scale.

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