Sector trends

Professional services: Unlock the power of technology

How technology is transforming the professional services sector, and where you could innovate for competitive advantage.

Here are the key takeaways from our recent webinar on how technology is driving the future of the sector and the opportunities it presents.

The panel

David Weaver, our Head of Professional & Business Services

Professor Andy Pardoe, Founder and Group CEO, Wisdom Works Group

Tracey Longbottom, Senior Business Development Manager, Legl

Aaron Wright, Business Development Executive, SCC

John O’Brien, Account Manager, SCC

What environment are professional services firms operating in?

Despite the mass appeal and utilisation of ChatGPT – an AI-powered Large Language Model (LLM) – it can be challenging to leverage if the correct frameworks and guiderails have not been built in.

With AI and LLMs seemingly everywhere, your clients are likely looking to not only use the technology themselves but expect you to leverage it to improve your services, too.

This could lead to pressure to adopt these technologies without due preparation. Or clients may even question why they should use your services if they can use AI directly themselves.

Although technology firms are looking to create more specialist technology LLMs that are trained on more curated data relevant to a specific industry, firms still need to build the guard rails to deliver a customised service to clients through these technologies. 

Emerging technologies could help your business thrive

There are plenty of benefits to utilising emerging technology. It could contribute to more effective flexible working and widen the talent pool in terms of regional diversity.

It could support your workforce and free up time by churning through the more laborious repetitive tasks. In turn, this could deliver outputs to clients quicker, and boost productivity.

And if work is costed on a value rather than time and material basis, technology could enable you to be more competitive and creative.

How to prepare for AI and other emerging technologies

Build a culture of change and innovation

Start with leadership at the top and make sure it filters all the way down the organisation. Think about how you bring the entire firm with you along the journey of adoption.

Take the time to create a full AI strategy: implement discovery sessions that bring in different areas of the firm. Make sure you interact at all levels, and build communication, education, and training around how AI could help the firm move forward.

You could also attract emerging talent by being innovative and adopting best-in-class technology. Another potential benefit from technology leadership is better succession planning: by embracing exciting technology you could attract the right people now to move the business forward.

Recruit tech champions to foster adoption

This can help with smoother adoption of new technology. If you have people within the business who understand the space and have a clear vision on strategy and demonstrable ROI, that could be a big enabler to put new solutions in place.

Learn from how other sectors are doing things, as some are further ahead with adoption. Those businesses that foster innovation are often better prepared to cater to evolving client demands.

Key considerations for security

  • There can be a lot of complexity. Build guardrails, supporting tools and frameworks to make sure the technology is working in a responsible and safe way.
  • Don’t underestimate the cost of building reliable and robust technology.
  • Deploying AI capabilities at scale is a different approach and mindset to traditional IT. Ensure you have the skills and knowledge necessary.
  • How complex are the systems and how will this impact the day-to-day running of the firm?
  • Do you have the infrastructure to support the technology?
  • Can you manage the cyber security risk or does it need to be outsourced?
  • Don’t be tempted to try anything and everything without considering security first. Complete a risk impact on the business.

If you’re considering employing a technology partner, consider these questions

  • Do you have a project roadmap?
  • How does it align to my key strategic changes or goal
  • How is your business funded?
  • What assurance can you give that you’ll be here throughout the growth life cycle?
  • Who are your clients?
  • What proof can you offer that your solutions have worked?
  • What are your contract terms?
  • How would you address potential barriers?

Using Technology as a Service (TaaS)

TaaS offers firms access to technology on demand -often via a subscription model - and provides added flexibility and scalability if growth is on the horizon. Because technology is advancing so quickly, it’s also a potentially more sustainable option because it takes away the need to frequently upgrade anything that’s obsolete.

By partnering with a trusted service provider to ensure your business has the right hardware and software applications to deliver what you need, you could focus more on your core strategic objectives. Or you could modernise your tech stack to stay ahead of the curve without the capital expenditure traditionally required to purchase those larger technology assets. 

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This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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