How Will AI Affect Consulting?

Kimble CEO Sean Hoban shares insight into the future evolution of the company’s award-winning software with readers of online technology magazine “Enterprise Times”, in an interview for their “business leader” series (January 2017).

Sean argues that technology which fits a strict definition of Artificial Intelligence is less important at the moment than Augmented Intelligence, which is being embedded into Kimble’s integrated professional services automation solution.

He also argues that tight integration between Kimble and other apps on the Salesforce platform means that a “best-of-breed” approach is now the most effective for many buyers.

Sean explains that Kimble does not come under the strict definition of Artificial Intelligence which involves machine learning. Instead, it uses a “man-plus-machine” approach, which means utilizing the things that computers do best to leverage the efforts of their human users. “What we’ve started to bake into the product is this augmented intelligence.”

Kimble currently uses augmented intelligence at the level of project management. “We’re starting to guide the project managers to the things that they should do. ..with charms, which are advanced warnings for project managers rather like a petrol warning light on cars. Clicking on the charm guides them to what they need to do. Do I need to get some more purchase order cover? Do I need to extend some person on an assignment? I haven’t done a status report – I need to put in a status report – that sort of thing. So we’ve got a bunch of charms that surface when certain data conditions are met.”

The next evolution for Kimble will be to do this at a company level. “Looking at a professional service organization and saying: ‘Okay what trends are we seeing. Are we seeing your overall gross margin decline? Why is that?’ We then have to guide them to what the problem is.”

Making the best use of PSA to improve business performance is something that will be increasingly important to firms whose margins are under pressure in a competitive industry. “You’d be really surprised at how bad some of the business owners are in understanding what the KPI is really telling them.”

Buying the best PSA system available and then integrating it with a finance system is more practical than a decade ago when buyers might have faced heavy integration costs. But on the Salesforce platform, this is straightforward. Kimble has a tight integration with Sage Live for instance.  “What that allows the customer to do is go: ‘I want this HR solution because I want the best HR solution that meets my business needs. I’ve got the best PSA, I’ve got the right finance system’ . . . So our message to the market and our customers is it’s best of breed.”