profit margins of some of those offerings.
Fortunately, “it’s a lot harder to machine-learn a
new product or service,” Driggs adds. “The real fu-
ture of consulting, I think, is in helping clients grow,
and helping them create new products and services.
When you think about that intersection between inde-
pendent physical systems, computer technologies and
human beings, the opportunity to create new services
in every industry is explosive.”
The opportunity has legs. Biller expects the value
of 4IR—and of consulting firms’ 4IR services – to
grow exponentially as more 4IR technologies are
implemented in more companies and integrated into
more supply chains. He views that value growth as a
similar dynamic to a 4IR version of the network effect
in the telecom or technology industry.
Bytes and blocs may soon be doing the heavy lifting, but it looks like forklift operators and growth-minded strategists and problem-solvers remain firmly in the driver’s seat.
IN 2018, PwC launched a digital upskilling initiative for all of its U.S. consultants. The effort dispenses knowledge on an impressive array of bleeding-edge
technologies – AI, design thinking, blockchain and more—
while deploying an equally advanced set of knowledge-acquisition approaches. Consultants strengthened their
“digital fitness” via personalized development regimens, apps, podcasts, multimedia content, peer-to-peer
learning, an elite “Digital Accelerator” academy (with a
competitive acceptance rate) and more.
Despite the program’s gee-whiz content and innovative knowledge-delivery mechanisms, PwC US Vice
Chair and Global Advisory Leader Mohamed Kande prefers to focus on an aspect of the initiative that had little
to do with technology.
“Rather than having leadership establish how we would
use innovation to change our business, we asked our peo-
ple to come up with ideas for changing how we run the
business,” he explains. “We are giving them the tools they
need to innovate while democratizing innovation.”
The approach has paid off so far, according to Kande
who points to profit margin improvements as a ben-
eficial outcome of the upskilling initiative. One inno-
vation that consultants identified involved deploying
more RPA and AI to replace manual consulting tasks,
freeing up consultants to focus on more strategic client
challenges. “The people doing the work,” Kande adds,
“are in a better position to identify which aspects of
their daily work can be automated.” —E.K.