The Future of Consulting: Why ChatGPT is a Game-Changer

By Alchemmy’s Georgia Woolley

As technology and AI rapidly develop, the gap between traditional face-to-face consulting styles and modern client needs has never been more pressing. Yes, there will always be a need for person-to-person consulting, but emerging technologies could help us bridge the gap between modern wants and historic needs. AI is becoming a larger part of all industries, with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai referring to it as ‘more profound’ than fire and electricity‘. As the capabilities of these resources develop, the abilities they permit users become greater and greater.

AI tools hasten the delivery of solutions, helping teams both small and large meet tight deadlines and quality expectations. Further, current and developing AI tools permit the user to do so much more than ever before in a short period of time. As this new technology enables greater change, questions arise about the ethics around its use. Where is the differentiation between consulting using AI and AI with a smidge of consulting?

OpenAI released ChatGPT in November 2022. It’s a natural language process model ‘trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response’. ChatGPT has a myriad of uses including debugging code, generating content, remembering previous user inputs, and allowing users to make follow-up corrections. ChatGPT was trained using Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF), in which human users played both sides of the interaction serving as both AI and user. This dialogue was fed into OpenAI’s previous model (InstructGPT) and transformed into a question and response format. Next, Proximal Policy Organisation occurred to fine-tune the model. This involved taking sample conversations and having humans rank them to create a reward model for the bot. In all, this process cost over $100 million USD. Future advances are expected to play less heavily on scaling up AI models and instead improving processes and making them more useful to people.

Consulting is a people process. Modernising the consulting process could involve utilising AI tools in the workplace, including using ChatGPT as something of a data analyst. With some healthy apprehension future iterations of this tool could take in large swathes of data and generate insights and recommendations in a fraction of the time it would take a consultant. Some apprehension is not uncommon, with tech giants like Elon Musk delivering an open letter requesting a six month pause on ‘anything more powerful than GPT-4’.

Another use of ChatGPT is rewriting and rewording, this could be particularly apt for circumstances which require the application of previously generated work to a new client or interface. This could take the form of a business change model, modified to meet the needs of a new client. OpenAI’s tool could step in here to streamline the insights produced, tailoring outputs to meet the specific needs and preferences of a new client.

Within the world of consulting, Bain announced a global services alliance with OpenAI in February. The alliance was formed to help the consultancy’s clients utilise AI in the most effective way. In fact, Coca Cola was the first company to engage with the alliance, demonstrating the willingness of modern companies to use the new opportunities offered by AI. Though this alliance may mark a new era of consulting for Bain, as a company with 500 data specialists they have the capacity to trial an AI tool and test outputs on their clients. An endeavour of this magnitude requires a high level of skill and would be unattainable to most consultancies.

Consulting is centred around storytelling and stakeholder management. It’s currently impossible for an AI tool like Chat GPT to fill this gap. We can therefore frame it as an assistant to consultants or a working tool to improve client offerings. Particularly when liaising directly with clients, it’s important to form a human-to-human connection. When both producing outputs and procuring further work, there is a gap unfillable by an AI tool. As a language model built over a short period of time (only a year or so) the model will lack the required contextual knowledge in most circumstances meaning its outputs should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Top Tips for Using ChatGPT

  1. Revisions, revisions, revisions
    • Make sure any output has been revised and carefully read through before you use it. This will ensure that the information is accurate and relevant to your ask.
  2. Make your queries direct
    • Input direct queries without much waffle, as this will help the model produce content that’s impactful for your question. Larger questions should be broken down to get the best out of the tool.
  3. Ask follow up questions
    • Don’t be afraid to ask the model to regenerate a response or ask follow up questions to clarify the output. Chat GPT operates in a question and response format, so it’s often useful to backtrack to have output reworded or rehashed.
  4. Be careful what content you’re putting in
    • Be wary of inputting client information or anything that may be confidential, as this may be privileged and shouldn’t be disseminated to a third party.
  5. Practice
    • Although the first prompt may not produce your ideal output, ChatGPT is a learning model, so it will get a better idea of what you want the more you interact with it. Have a conversation with the model, ask it to correct itself and see what else it can provide for you.
  6. Use keywords and phrases
    • Guide the tool to provide the answers you want, mentioning consultancy or similar keywords will make your output more relevant to your needs. Alternatively, using something like ‘strategy’ or ‘business plan’ will give you a structure to work from.
  7. Prioritise bare bones over information overload!
    • In some cases, the ideal output may be small sections/segments. Using ChatGPT to produce a structure gives you a starting point with client or internal work, which can then be used to effectively tailor your content towards your chosen audience.
  8. Use ChatGPT as a sounding board/consultant
    • Use the device to sound out ideas, test things and bounce opinions off of. This is a great way to test out your own theories or get a second opinion on something at a moment’s notice.
  9. Start new chats
    • Start new chats to keep topics separated, compiling all your information into individual spaces.
  10. Do an interview
    • When in doubt, adopt an interview structure to your questioning. Give the tool some context, perhaps that you’re looking for a single response to each question and that you’d like to have the responses structured like an interview. You can even do mock job interviews!
  11. Subvert your questions
    • If ChatGPT can’t answer your question, rephrase it. For instance, if it can’t provide a list of the most dangerous places to go, ask for a list of places you definitely shouldn’t go (if you’re feeling particularly risky)!

 

ChatGPT is an excellent resource for consultants. This tool gives you the power of a built-in assistant, able to answer difficult questions and propel you forwards. There’s no set way to use an AI tool, just experiment and don’t be afraid to question the responses you get, it’s there to help you!

Written by

Sam Smitherman

Published on

35th April 2023

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