Consultants need ambition and collaboration to respond effectively to AI

Tonkin + Taylor Group Managing Director Tim Fisher recently attended the FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) Global Leadership Forum Summit (GLF) in Geneva. He shares the artificial intelligence (AI) that emerged, including how to best respond to the challenges and benefits AI presents to consulting. 

"It was a pleasure to attend the FIDIC GLF. The 2024 GLF brought together 100 leaders from across the globe to play a key role in helping to address global challenges and create a united and influential voice for the global infrastructure sector. The focus areas were AI and carbon.  

"By best estimates, 30% of hours worked today will be automated by AI by 2030. In consulting, AI will bring benefits for efficiency, as well as value add in selected areas, and firms need a combination of both approaches. However, unique applications of AI will only be as good as the data that we have and are able to organise. We need to embrace the change and upskill and reskill. While doing so, we also need to think about responsible AI practices to ensure it is used beneficially and safely. 

"Seventy percent of carbon emissions are from infrastructure (this includes the build and the operation of the built world). FIDIC GLF are working on a Carbon Management Framework to set out best practice for consulting engineers. This report will be out later in the year. The reduction of carbon in infrastructure also comes with cost savings, and this dual benefit needs to be better communicated. 

"An overall theme from the GLF was the speed and pace of change from AI and climate, but also all the other uncertainties in the world. Consultants need ambition and collaboration to respond to these issues. We also need strong values and culture in our businesses to change fast, while being simultaneously resilient. 

"It was incredibly important to connect with international colleagues and to collaborate with them. It confirmed that our own strategies are largely right up there with the best in the world, but it was invaluable to learn from others, get some tips and tricks, and collaborate on key areas such as AI and carbon. The outputs from the GLF will be available from FIDIC in the near future."  

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