Consulting 4.0 proponents Sia Partners host AI conference in Dubai

23 May 2018 4 min. read

Global management firm Sia Partners has hosted a conference on Artificial Intelligence in the UAE with 60 executives and specialists in attendance, including delegates and speakers from Etisalat’s Smartworld and tech educators Udacity.

Held at the Address Hotel in Dubai, the event, ‘Understanding Artificial Intelligence: Going Beyond The Hype’, brought together business leaders and technology experts to discuss the implications and benefits of AI applications, with subject expert and Deputy-CEO of Sia Partners Jean-Pierre Corniou sharing his belief that persistent negative perceptions surrounding the technology were limiting the implementation of simple AI tools.

“The reality is that machines work for us, not the other way around,” Corniou, the former President of EDS Consulting Services and Chief Information Officer for Renault, told the audience during his presentation. Further panelists at the event included Saeed Al Dhaheri, the Chairman of digital service provider Smartworld; Hisham Elaraby, the managing director of tech-training providers Udacity, and; Carlos Guevara, Partner at Sia and the co-founder of Middle East-based management consultancy ShiftIn Partners - which Sia acquired late last year.

With the pick-up of ShiftIn, Sia Partners expanded its presence in the region to 40 consultants across four local offices, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, bringing the consulting firm’s global number to 20 outlets and over 1,100 specialists worldwide. Sia Partners also boasts 12 consulting bots among its ranks, developing the technology in line with its push toward ‘Consulting 4.0’, which promotes the Artificial Intelligence revolution within the consulting industry itself.Consulting 4.0 proponents Sia Partners host AI conference in Dubai

Arguing that AI transformations should be embraced by both the consulting industry and the clients it advises, Matthieu Courtecuisse, the CEO and co-founder of Sia, recently stated; “The consulting industry must operate its own cognitive revolution, without being afraid of a future which, I am sure, will prove infinitely more promising than some people fear. Similar to what is happening in industry 4.0, we need to develop a Consulting 4.0. Consulting companies that will stay away from this intelligence revolution will become mere transmitters.”

Courtecuisse concludes; “One thing is certain: the consulting profession today is radically different from the one I knew when I created Sia Partners 18 years ago. Within 3 years, we will be more than 1,500 consultants, still growing and at the same time, we will have developed a hundred consulting bots. No consultant will work without digital tools based on artificial intelligence. We need to develop the ‘augmented consultant’. The struggle between artificial intelligence and human intelligence will no longer exist but a new augmented intelligence will take lead.”

Rather than the common fear of machine learning leading to widespread job losses, the Sia Partners CEO contends that AI augmentation will bring new products and services through greater innovation, describing it as a fundamentally creative process that can generate new roles. The opinions of Courtecuisse and Corniou, speaking at the Sia conference in Dubai, echo those of fellow technology expert and BCG senior advisor Philip Evans, who earlier this month spoke at a similar AI-themed forum hosted by the American strategy firm in Dubai.

“There are some things that machines are inherently incapable of doing and the most obvious one is emotion. They don’t feel emotion, and we know that they’re faking, but we don’t care," Evans previously told a South Korean newspaper, “My own view is that it’s certainly great to be a data scientist, but it will be human emotional intelligence that will become more important in the future as the purely cognitive skills become less important.”