One of the questions we have had from readers in the past is that a lot of people can see what a data scientist would do in a company, but not really what a consultant would do that’s different. Why do companies hire them?
So why do companies hire AI Specialist Consultants?
To start with, the industry at the moment a lot of the AI Specialists seem to be from consultancies. Why is this, and why do companies use them? An AI Specialist is very similar to a data scientist in the way they work with code and models, but is more focused on understanding and defining business use cases, often one of the toughest tasks hindering the adoption of data science. A use case is a specific situation in which a product or service could potentially be used, which is then used to define the technology and data approaches that will be used. When talking to business stakeholders, the use case is one of the critical discussions, and usually more important than the technology behind it, as the use case makes it real and usable.
..the use case is one of the critical discussions, and usually more important than the technology behind it, as the use case makes it real and usable.
The primary reason companies hire consultants for this task is the process and interaction surrounding the work. Consultants are also required to wear a lot of different hats from time to time, from architecting implementations to building, testing, iterating, documenting, which provides a wide range of perspectives to help nail those tough business use cases. On top of that, consistent stakeholder feedback, understand what the client wants out the project, explaining concepts, pre-sales pitching of ideas and concepts all come into play as well. An internal data scientist can also undertake a lot of these tasks, the actual work being done by consulting AI Specialists is no different from that that can be done internally to a business. The difference is the broader range of experiences a consultant brings to the table.
The difference shows itself in the general understanding of business fit & application, and the ability to fit ideas and projects in a way that suits the client and what they understand. Consultants, having seen multiple different types of business function, can add a new lense to the discussion. This lense essentially means that hiring a consultant you are not just getting a predefined use case and project built, you are paying to get the experience, business knowledge/understanding, to define and develop a plan that suits your business.
There is also an interesting phenomenon that tends to happen where, after some initial pushback, internal teams work well with consultants. Resulting in consultants can generally get results internal to business quicker than people within that business can as your outside of the typical business framework; it allows a lot more flexibility. This flexibility helps to drive the business case and articulate the value clearly.
So to answers the question, companies hire AI Specialist consultants to bring not only the technical capability but the broader business experience to clearly define and articulate the AI use case, making it real for the business.
Jeremiah is an Director at PwC leading a Data Advisory team and founder AI Specialist Blog. He has received the ACS ICT Professional of the Year (2019), Top 25 Analytics Professionals Australia (2021, 2018). He has written articles for the AFR, IBM, and LearnDataSci.
Please get in touch if your business needs any help in the Data Science & Strategic advisory space!