Generative AI: The Next Frontier for Project-Based Businesses

November 14, 2023
Generative AI - The Next Frontier for Project-Based Businesses

Deltek recently surveyed 175 UK-based professional services firms about their opportunities, challenges, and strategies for the 4th Annual EMEA and APAC Deltek Clarity Report. And despite financial concerns, investment in emerging technology surfaced as the top priority – with 76% of respondents saying they were investing more in technology this year. 

But even with a clear appetite for new technology, 53% of respondents said they see Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption as a significant challenge.

Deltek recently held a roundtable event with Walter Pasquarelli, an expert advisor on AI strategy and data governance, and Lora Barclay, Business Systems Lead at Waterstons. The pair discussed how businesses can use AI and emerging technologies to empower people, processes, and projects. And how keeping up with this technology will help firms prepare for Workforce 3.0, the term for the 21st-century workforce that is diverse, flexible, innovative, and learning-oriented. 

Read on to discover the four key AI trends our experts are seeing today.

1. AI Has the Power to Enhance Efficiency and Productivity

Using any technology to automate routine tasks increases speed, it frees up your people to add value to your firm. Using generative AI is no different. 

A 2023 MIT study found that ChatGPT improved writing task productivity – reducing time taken by 0.8 standard deviations, which is above the average found during the study. It also found that ChatGPT increased job satisfaction and self-efficacy and shifted tasks towards idea generation and editing. However, the generative AI tool created both concern and excitement about automation among respondents.

Similarly, researcher Erik Brynjolfsson found in his study, 'Generative AI At Work', that a generative AI-based conversational assistant increased productivity by 14% on average. And on top of this productivity boost, it disseminated knowledge, improved customer sentiment and enhanced employee retention.

Some companies, like Twilio, are already promoting these benefits. Twilio uses generative AI for its ticketing system, which, integrated with Slack, enables employees to engage in human-like conversations for routine tasks like password resets, access requests, hardware orders and troubleshooting.

This integration substantially reduced response times and achieved a 65% auto-resolution rate for incoming support requests.

The opportunities are endless, from text generators that can have conversations with customers and image generators for design and media to performing data analysis on and producing legal and policy documentation. 

It's a lot to consider, so start by aligning use cases to your business strategy to discover the areas where generative AI will have the most impact for you.

2. Using AI for a Competitive Advantage

As it becomes more advanced, generative AI has the potential to completely change the way we generate knowledge and engage in creative work. And this will, in turn, transform the economic landscape. It's important to understand what this new landscape will mean for your firm and what investments you'll need to make to stay ahead of the game.

Now is the time to work out what you'll need to have in place to maximize new technology as it arrives. There are two key factors to consider. The first is ensuring you have high-value, clean data to fuel AI. And the second is having talented employees who can build and use AI capabilities.

By embracing AI and finding the best way to use it in your firm, you'll be able to improve your offering to customers and stay ahead of your competitors. 


“It's about understanding your AI use cases and aligning them with your business strategy. Simply investing in new technology is not necessarily going to increase your revenue or make your business more competitive. It's about understanding where generative AI can help push forward the mission you have as an organization.”

– Walter Pasquarelli, AI Strategist


3. AI and Client Satisfaction and Trust

A key benefit of generative AI is how it can help you improve client satisfaction. Some AI tools, like those from Kili, use your product and service information to answer customer queries. Unlike ChatGPT – which uses mainly public information – Kili's use of private and public knowledge helps ensure that responses are accurate and specific.

Companies using Kili have seen customer satisfaction rise to 78% (compared to 54% with a human operator) as it can engage visitors in real time, answer their questions, and provide a personalized experience.

But for these generative AI tools to have this positive effect on customer satisfaction, the infrastructure behind them needs to be trustworthy.

You need solid policies and data governance in place to keep your information secure. Transparency is vital to build trust. By determining and sharing exactly how data is being used and who has access to it, you can give clients peace of mind about data security and compliance.

4. Ethical and Regulatory Considerations During AI Adoption

When using generative AI in your firm, it's important to be open with clients about how you're using it. Customers need to know whether they are interacting with a human or an AI system like a chatbot. The best way to give customers a good experience is to give them autonomy over how they communicate with you.

Regulations are also continually developing. The European Union's AI Act is currently being finalized. It will regulate AI applications differently based on their potential to harm. This legislation will affect both firms operating in the EU and those who do business with European markets.

But, as generative AI is a newer technology, regulations specific to this still need to be determined and developed.

What Does the Future of AI Look Like?

Fear of automation is nothing new; throughout the 20th century, the threat of a machine age and the upheaval automation could bring to the labour market were widely discussed. But the studies around generative AI show it can help people to improve productivity.

Instead of thinking about the impact generative AI might have on jobs, think about how it affects specific tasks. Generative AI tools can assist people – and enhance our working lives – rather than replace them.

With the dawn of Workforce 3.0 and the arrival of Gen Z, the first digitally native generation, the need for firms to embrace technology like generative AI will only become stronger. The younger generation has grown up in the digital world and wants to work for businesses that embrace it.


“Businesses need to adapt and reorient their strategy around the arrival of Gen Z and Workforce 3.0. Consider the technology your firm uses and whether it supports a diverse range of needs. Audit your systems and processes to understand where you can increase opportunities for collaboration and innovation and where you can automate the repetitive and the mundane tasks.”

– Lora Barclay, Business Systems Lead, Waterstons


Deltek Can Help You Embrace AI at Your Firm

Generative AI is a game-changer for project-based businesses. It can help you automate and optimize your project workflows, from planning to delivery.

As a technology leader, Deltek has been incorporating traditional AI into its products for several years. As AI has evolved, so have the use cases for incorporating this innovative technology. In the coming months, we will unveil additional GenAI capabilities in our ERP solutions.

If you want to discover how generative AI can transform your project-based business, take advantage of our virtual fireside chat with Walter Pasquarelli, on November 28. In his session, titled 'Tinker, Test, Scale: AI Tools for Project Success,' Walter will show you some of the most powerful tools for professional services firms and guide you on evaluating them based on your business needs.


Webinar: AI Tools for Project Success

Join AI Strategist Walter Pasquarelli on November 28 as he Explores and Demonstrates the Most Impactful AI Tools.

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