The impact of AI on implementation consultant skills

Discover the skills every implementation consultant should learn now to be successful in the future

As artificial intelligence (AI) pervades the business world, its effects are being felt across numerous job roles and industries. One such role is implementation consultant. AI is set to bring about significant changes to the daily tasks and responsibilities of implementation consultants in essentially every industry, requiring these professionals to adapt their skill sets to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Recently, ServiceNow collaborated with Pearson to conduct a comprehensive study on the imminent impact of AI and automation on various technology-based roles, including implementation consultants. The study aims to equip professionals with the knowledge to prepare for the widespread adoption of AI in the business world. The research delves into the future of eight technology-focused roles, analyzing how they will evolve in the next five years, and what skills IT professionals will need to develop to prepare for this shift. 

Implementation consultants are responsible for guiding businesses through changing or implementing new systems, processes, and technologies. These professionals work closely with clients and in-house departments to understand their unique requirements, develop a customized implementation strategy, and oversee processes to ensure everything is completed on time, within budget, and to a specified standard of quality. Implementation consultant responsibilities include conducting needs assessments, identifying and analyzing business requirements, developing project plans and timelines, configuring software and hardware systems, overseeing testing and quality assurance, training end users, and providing ongoing support and maintenance.

Implementation consultants play a critical role in ensuring the successful adoption of new technologies, allowing businesses to achieve their goals and remain competitive. The average annual salary for this position in the U.S. is approximately $66,000.

To perform their functions effectively, implementation consultants rely on a variety of skills. Among the most essential are:

  • Project management skills (for developing and executing project plans, identifying risks, and managing stakeholders)

  • Communication and interpersonal skills (for gathering requirements and managing expectations)

  • Problem-solving abilities (for troubleshooting complex issues and devising innovative solutions)

  • Technical expertise (software, hardware systems, database management, networking, etc.)

  • Analytical and critical thinking skills (to identify process bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and to develop strategies for improvement)

  • Attention to detail (for ensuring that implementation projects are completed accurately and in accordance with project specifications)

  • Training and coaching skills (to educate teams on new systems, processes, and technologies, and to provide ongoing support)

  • Knowledge of the latest trends and emerging technologies in the industry

The expansion of AI is set to profoundly influence the function of implementation consultants by the year 2027. Advanced technologies will empower consultants through the automation of routine and complex tasks, as well as assisting in data analysis, using data to help create personalized client recommendations, and providing intelligent insights to enhance the decision-making process.

Even more significant is the projection that 11.7% of implementation consultant tasks will be automated by AI, resulting in an additional 6.8 hours of capacity each week. In total, it is estimated that at least 16 implementation consultant tasks will be partially automated by AI and technology within the next five years.

In other words, AI will play a big part in the role of tomorrow’s implementation consultants. Research suggests that the following technologies will be the most involved in this transformation:

Process automation: Code programmed to complete predefined logical and rule-based processing tasks

Predictive analysis: Tools that reactively use machine learning (ML) to conduct narrow analysis and make related predictions

Solution discovery: Agents using reinforcement learning (RL) and sensors to digest and solve unstructured, complex problems

The ServiceNow/Pearson study reports that AI augmentation is expected to affect 12.3% of implementation consultant tasks by 2027.

Collaborative robotics: Robots using RL and sensors to co-contribute to generating shared meaning

The study also examined 15 implementation consultant tasks that are expected to undergo some degree of transformation as a result of AI and automation. Out of these tasks, three were highlighted as the ones likely to be the most affected:

1. Maintaining records of project activity and progress

2. Reviewing and formatting client deliverables

3. Taking meeting notes and notifying stakeholders of action items

AI is poised to revolutionize how implementation consultants perform tasks and collaborate with clients. As such, these professionals will need to invest in developing additional AI-relevant skills to help them navigate these changes. At the same time, it will fall to organizational leadership to actively develop extensive training programs and offer reskilling and upskilling initiatives for in-house implementation consultants to help prepare them for the AI-enabled landscape of the near future.

The ServiceNow/Pearson study pinpointed five proficiencies that will require the highest levels of expertise from implementation consultants by 2027:

1. Increasing focus on personal learning and mastery

2. Focusing on achievements

3. Retaining and improving foundational IT skills

4. Demonstrating agility

5. Collaborating and communicating effectively across digital media

As AI technologies recast business processes, systems, tools, and roles, implementation consultants will remain vitally important to organizations across the globe. But this doesn’t mean that they can expect to ride out this change without being affected by it. 

In the next five years, an implementation consultant will need to learn how to leverage AI capabilities to support, optimize, and inform their most central tasks. Business leaders will also need to identify proficiency gaps and implement appropriate training and upskilling initiatives to equip their in-house consultants to succeed as they navigate the AI-driven future.

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