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AI Adoption in Professional Services: Big Hopes, Long Road Ahead

While AI made significant strides in business operations last year, a new report reveals professional services firms still have a long way to go in fully embracing the technology.

Certinia’s 2024 Global Services Dynamics report, surveying over 1,000 businesses globally (including 17% from Australia), highlights the high expectations for AI:

  • 81% believe AI will increase efficiency.
  • 65% expect it to boost profitability.
  • 68% anticipate improved service quality.

Greg Smith, Head of Global Product and Solution Marketing at Certinia, said, “Apart from eight out of 10 expecting AI to increase efficiency, 68% believe they will increase service quality and 53% help create new service offerings. Fortunately, fewer than one-third believe AI will cause them to reduce staff.”

However, the report also identifies key challenges hindering widespread adoption. “Most professional services organisations are not yet technically mature enough to leverage AI”, says Smith. “Disconnected spreadsheets, siloed systems, and unstructured data are all impediments to deploying AI across information it can learn from to provide meaningful insight. If AI is the answer to the efficiency concerns of professional services teams, the question will be who has the technical maturity to adopt”.

 He adds, “To thrive, organisations must assess their AI maturity and identify the skills, resources, and tools needed to ensure AI is a competitive strength and not an existential threat.”

The report emphasises the importance of building business resilience through thoughtful business design and implementing efficient processes that can adapt to AI advancements. Organisations that prioritise data architecture and leverage private learning models will gain a significant competitive edge.

Key findings specific to Australia:

  • Efficiency: 77% believe AI will improve efficiency, slightly below the global average.
  • Job displacement: 29% anticipate AI-driven job cuts, mirroring the global trend.
  • Service quality: Australian businesses have the lowest expectations for AI’s impact on service quality (58%).

Overall, the Certinia report paints a picture of professional services firms eagerly anticipating AI’s benefits while facing significant hurdles in implementation. By addressing technical maturity and skills gaps, these businesses can unlock the true potential of AI and thrive in the evolving landscape.

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