Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Management School

Abstract

Professional service firms are facing increasing challenges from A.I .and machine learning technologies. Whilst these technological innovations are important for growth and productivity, how they are integrated into business practices and business m is of critical concern. This project focuses on the role that collaborative exploration about future uncertainties can play in the design and implementation of new A.I. technologies in accounting and legal services. The project focuses on the ways in which businesses can think about changing the way they work through a collaborative design model that considers current and future pathways for A.I. technologies and the broader, dynamic institutional landscape.

The project addresses the UK Industrial Strategy's Grand Challenge which calls for a consideration of how AI technologies can boost UK national productivity and growth. The project will focus specifically on synthesising insights from business model innovation, operations management, studies of professional service firms, developments in AI, and service design to understand how innovation in PSFs is adopted and assimilated. The project team will connect these multidisciplinary academic insights with the on-the-ground understandings and perspectives of innovators in professional services firms.

To achieve the aims, the project will maintain a focus on people's experiences of new products and services within mid-market firms which are particularly sensitive to technological change due to their size, the threat of competition, and resources. Rather than focusing solely on the technology itself, the research will generate insights into a human-centric role for innovation and the integration of transformative AI technologies. The research will look to undertake exploratory prototyping of solutions designed in collaboration with firms to enable a rapid generation and assessment of potential future applications of AI across the business model. This is critical in the objective of the project to broaden participation of those within firms in exploring challenges and strategies within professional service firms. Finally, the project seeks to translate research insights into multiple formats and media, addressing the different needs and demands of firms working within the challenges of rapid technological transformation.

Key to the project will be the exploration and identification of the main areas of 'threat' and 'opportunity' offered by the adoption of AI in accounting and law as well as analysing the potential barriers to AI-based business model innovation. The findings will be used to offer proposals as to how these might be addressed. Alongside the technological barriers, the research will seek to explore the institutional, regulatory and societal challenges that face PSFs. By integrating these objectives with co-creative practices the project seeks to provide strategies and business solutions for those at the coalface of AI and machine learning.

The project will be delivered through five work packages. These will include an initial phase exploring institutional factors, and opportunities and barriers, before designing strategies through direct collaboration with firms in 'design sprints' informed by the research perspectives of the project team. The final phase will synthesize the evidence and findings to generate important academic and practitioner outputs as well as dissemination through partner stakeholders and organisations. Through our close collaboration with the Managing Partners' Forum, the project will have access to mid-size firms across the 2 sectors identified. This research will deliver important academic insights into the ways in which a design thinking approach can expand our notion of innovation and seek to provide key recommendations that will shape how AI is implemented and how professional service firms can frame their responses to rapid technological change.

Planned Impact

The main impacts will be achieved through the active collaboration of investigators with staff at the Managing Partners' Forum, access to its 1000 members in professional services firms, and recruitment of its members and wider stakeholders who are leaders in firms across different sectors in the UK as participants in the project, as well as communication and collaboration to translate insights into action with others working in professional bodies, regulation and policy. We envisage the following impacts:

- Around 30 people who are partners and managers in 11 professional services firms who are directly involved in work package 2 will have opportunities and support from investigators to explore the potential impact of A.I. technologies on their work practices through participation in 'design sprints' through which potential solutions are developed, explored and assesssed. The impact of this is likely to be long-lasting beyond the duration of the project by being exposed to several strands of academic research; training in design thinking methods; and through active participation in the research including through sense-making workshops and participation in interviews before and after the design sprint. The outcomes will include potential strategies these firms can develop further; capacity building in innovation practices across firms enabling them to harness A.I. technologies within value propositions and business models; and knowledge exchange with other professional services firms and with academics from several fields.

- A much larger number of partners and managers in professional services firms using project outputs such as AI Innovation Barometer, Futures Scenarios and Service Innovation Toolkit will be equipped to explore the potential impact of AI technologies on their firm work practices, business models and innovation systems. These outputs and events will be co-produced and co-branded with the Managing Partners' Forum. The impacts will include enhanced capacity across the law and accountancy sectors to understand and respond to the dynamic institutional landscape and technological change.

- Policy makers in Government departments (especially BEIS (industrial strategy), DCMS (digital policy) and HMT (financial regulation) as well as policy advisers in regulators and professional bodies will have opportunities to understand, explore and assess the fast-changing landscape and understand the implications for government. This will be achieved through: (a) active participation of about 30 policy advisers including civil servants in a 'policy sprint' workshop to explore the implications of findings for systems innovation, and to co-create policy options together; (b) participation in future scenarios and roadmapping workshops; and (c) access to outputs such as reports and online tools. The impacts will include reframing current perceptions of productivity and thinking systemically and multi-dimensionally about the potential for AI in the law and accoutancy sectors and the institutional landscape.

- Leaders and staff in professional bodies representing, advocating and informing legal and accountancy firms will have opportunities to understand, explore and assess the fast-changing landscape and understand the implications of AI on their sectors. This will be achieved through: (a) active participation in a 'policy sprint' workshop to explore the implications of findings for systems innovation, and to co-create policy options ; (b) iparticipation in future scenarios and roadmapping workshops; and (c) access to outputs such as reports and online tools such as the AI Innovation Barometer. Impacts will include reframing current perceptions of productivity as well as thinking systemically and multi-dimensionally about the potential for AI in their sectors and the institutional landscape; as well as new dialogues and exchanges between and across organisations, firms and sectors.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Vorley T (2020) Artificial intelligence in the legal sector: pressures and challenges of transformation in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society

 
Description At the midpoint of the project we have identified a number of key findings based on the research objectives of the grant proposal. A primary finding is, not unexpectedly, that most mid-tier firms in the legal and accounting sectors are not engaging with AI, with many viewing the dawn of AI-enabled services as overhyped and beyond their current strategic planning horizons. As a result, we refer to mid-tier firms as the squeezed middle market, in that they are not engaged and investing in AI like their larger counterparts or the more agile legal and accounting tech firms that are looking to disrupt the market. The danger is that mid-tier firms continue to play a 'wait-and-see game' without proactively looking to understand and explore the opportunities that AI technologies bring.

A fundamental challenge here is an appreciation of what AI is by the mid-tier firms. For many AI is discussed in general terms, known as 'Generic AI', although this is not how AI is typically employed. In reality the application and use of AI is task or activity based, known as 'Narrow AI', and presents a solution to improve or augment a given task or activity. Consequently, another finding is that not only is engagement with AI limited, but that AI readiness to engage was low. Indeed, a prerequisite for any legal or accounting firm is that they have an understanding as to the tasks and or activities that an AI solution may be applied to, and have sufficient data to meaningfully utilise AI technologies.

The dominant view among the mid-tier firms engaged in the research was that where they had or were looking to employ AI technologies that the preference was to procure AI solutions as opposed to wanting to innovate themselves. This is in contrast to the strategy of larger and more agile smaller counterparts who were more focused on developing AI technologies, although there are a growing number of AI product and services available for professional services firms. The research has seen a taxonomy developed identifying the different approaches which firms have pursued to explore and implement AI technologies at the firm level.

Allied to this, the research highlights that the dominant ownership structure and business models of legal and accounting firms, known as Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), do not incentivize investment in technology and innovation. This is compounded by a lack of capital and capability to invest in and integrate AI technologies, with the leadership of technology and innovation often assigned to senior professionals without AI expertise. To overcome this a key finding from the research and design sprints has been the importance firms better understanding their business model to appreciate the potential value of employing AI technologies and understand capability and capacity gaps.

Given the focus of the research on the business model, the research also highlights the distinction between AI technologies that are being used in the business of professional services and in the practices of professional services firms. Much of the evidence so far indicates that there is more use of AI technologies in the former than the latter. The findings highlight a cultural resistance to change among lawyers and accountants, with well-established norms within the professions and individual organizations curtailing the adoption and integration of AI technologies into working practices. By working with these firms through design sprints (structured collaborative sessions with firms in the sector) a focus is looking at how AI technologies can be used to create and capture value for firms. The success of these events is leading to the development of bespoke design sprints targeted at particular firms.

From a broader sector perspective, the research has found uncertainties around the need for governance and regulatory reforms to unlock AI within the legal and accounting sectors. This will form another important of the research going forward in advancing academic and practitioner understanding about the factors influencing the uptake and use of AI technologies in mid-tier accounting and law firms and how organisational and cultural barriers can be overcome.
Exploitation Route The outputs of the current research have direct impacts on firms who have been engaging with the project through in-depth interviews, a scenario planning workshop (where practitioners and academics worked on devising and considering the impacts of potential future scenarios for AI on the sector) and a series of design sprints. This three-pronged methodology will continue during the next phases of the project as outlined in the project research objectives. The findings are being communicated through academic papers, academic and practitioner conferences, as well as other events where project members have directly communicated results to firms and stakeholders. The project will begin to produce recommendations for policymakers, regulators and sector bodies about interventions, systemic changes and forms of support that would enhance the uptake and use of AI technologies in professional services firms, particularly for the delivery of high value services.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Other

URL https://sites.google.com/sheffield.ac.uk/nextgenpsf/
 
Description The project is now at its midpoint and has completed the underpinning research mapping the wider landscape in which legal and accounting firms operate. Using this research the project team has been pursing a two-fold approach based on targeted impact orientated activities. First, after completing the scenario planning exercise with legal and accountancy firms, regulators, sector bodies and groups, technologists and policy makers the project team has developed a series of futures. These futures form the basis of a workshop that the project team has developed for firms to challenge the strategic thinking and planning with firms. Second, the project team has designed and delivered a design sprint, as an innovative methodological format, with which we are engaging with firms on a one-to many and one-to-one basis. The focus of each design sprint is adapted to meet the needs and priorities of participating firms. In addition we have undertaken 2 thematic design sprints in conjunction with regulators on Anti Money Laundering and Conveyancing. Together these two approaches have attracted the attention of firms, regulators and sector bodies who we will continue to engage with to stimulate awareness and demand for these the activities of the NextGenPSF project team.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Other
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Landscape Mapping Report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Title Business Model Innovation & AI readiness Toolkit 
Description The Business Model Innovation (BMI) Toolkit was created to help businesses understand the different ways in which they create and capture value from their activities and to think about innovation more broadly, beyond their offering. While many businesses think about innovation in terms of their products, processes and services, business model innovation is about creating and capturing value from different aspects of the business model. The Toolkit is informed by research into how firms approach questions of Business Models and Business Model Innovation for growth and was developed following extensive engagement with Innovate UK & KTN and a broad range of firms in different sectors. The BMI Toolkit conceptualises the Business Model into three distinct dimensions, specifically the offering, the experience and the configuration, with each comprising multiple domains. The offering refers the product, process or service that a company offers. It is the key dimension whereby companies create value for their customers and is therefore the main focus of innovation activities within most companies. Experience refers to how businesses engage with their customers or end users and how they engage with the business. It includes aspects such as interaction, brand and channel to capture the multiple ways in which customers experience their product, process or service. Configuration refers to how a business is organised to not only create but also capture value from its customers. It includes aspects such as the profit model, network, structure and transactions. The BMI Toolkit comes in the form of a deck of cards consisting of a series of questions that are structured around the three business model dimensions and that are meant to (1) help businesses understand and articulate their business model and (2) stimulate businesses to think about how they can innovate different aspects and dimensions of their business model. Business Model cards relate to the former, asking questions that promote discussion about how the business model works and how the business creates value to develop a shared understanding. Business Model Innovation cards relate to the latter, asking questions that explore opportunities for business model innovation by stimulating discussion about where the businesses model has strengths to exploit and weaknesses to improve, distinguishing between short, medium- and long-term priorities. A typical question to help businesses understand their offering is 'how does your business create value and enhance the performance of your customers?'. However, while innovating the offering is important, going beyond the product, process or service is essential for businesses to set themselves apart from their competitors in today's increasingly complex and competitive business environment. Typical questions to help businesses understand the experience dimension of their business model are, for example, 'how do your customers interact with your business (i.e. physically, digitally or both)?' and 'how does your branding reflect what your business does?'. Innovating the experience can help companies develop a unique competitive advantage, with innovation in this area being increasingly prompted by the digitalisation of business. Typical questions to help businesses understand this dimension of their business model are, for example, 'how and where do you carry out transactions with your customers?' and 'what, if any, other businesses is your business dependent upon?'. Innovating the configuration can help companies leverage their strengths, reduce costs and develop new revenue streams, and represents a key opportunity in an increasingly connected and digitised business environment. The BMI Toolkit is designed to be used in workshops, team meetings or away days, and is about exploring how businesses can innovate to create value and grow. The cards are colour coded to different dimensions of the business model: Purple (Offering), Yellow (Configuration) and Green (Experience). By challenging the assumption that innovation is about new products, processes and services, the Toolkit encourages businesses to think about how they can innovate to grow. The Toolkit was adapted for the NextGenPSF project to suit the nature of activity of professional services firms. Besides adapting the questions on the cards to focus specifically on services, a series of Artificial Intelligence (AI) cards were added to prompt professional services firms to think about how AI can enhance and/or optimise and/or automate different aspects of service delivery. This is intended to prompt firms in the professional services sector to think about AI adoption and how this can help them innovate to create the next generation of services. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The Business Model Innovation Toolkit has been tested and refined extensively with companies in different sectors and has served as a basis for both research projects and industry engagements via business model innovation workshops. The version of the BMI Toolkit that was adapted for the NextGenPSF project proved especially useful in stimulating professional services firms (legal and accountancy firms in this context) to think about AI adoption. This is because adopting AI challenges the existing business models of professional services firms, particularly their revenue model (i.e. the way they operate to make money). Therefore, adopting AI is not a straightforward task but requires companies to think about what and how they need to change in order to accommodate the new AI technologies. The BMI Toolkit was used in workshops that were delivered based on the design sprint methodology. The workshops used academic insights and the BMI Toolkit to helps firms develop practical solutions incorporating AI technologies. So far, two multi-firm design sprints were delivered as part of the project, engaging a total of nine legal and accountancy firms. These offered participants the opportunity to explore AI adoption by thinking about and challenging their current business models. In addition, two bespoke firm-based sprints were delivered where participating companies had the opportunity to explore AI adoption by engaging with the BMI Toolkit in more depth and work on specific firm challenges. The workshops received positive feedback from the firms, with those participating in the bespoke sprints planning to take forward the solutions developed through the workshop. The workshops will continue to engage with firms in the sector to promote AI adoption more widely. The ultimate goal is to refine the design sprint methodology around the BMI Toolkit to enable firms to organise and deliver the sprints on their own. 
URL https://innovationcaucus.co.uk/knowing-your-business-model/
 
Description The University of Sheffield and Lancaster University 
Organisation Lancaster University
Department Lancaster University Management School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As the PI for Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design project, Professor Tim Vorley has supported the project through management of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research project. The project is a Collaborative Design Challenge with three intersecting phases drawing on the individual expertise of 6 distinct partners. Tim, in his role as PI has, and continues to manage, monitor and ensure the integrity of the relationship. The Sheffield partner provides cross-cutting expertise across the project, focusing on business model and maintains a focus on people's experiences to unlock understanding of the potential use of AI in Professional Service Firms (PSFs). The team further supports the administrative planning, firm recruitment, interviewing and delivery of the 'design sprint'.
Collaborator Contribution The Lancaster team plays an integral role in the research for Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design. To conduct this ambitious and fast-paced programme of work, the team of investigators combine the necessary multi-disciplinary expertise, interdisciplinary aptitude, experience of running and participating in relevant and significant projects using collaborative design and futures approaches, and predisposition toward co-production. Lancaster have taken a primary lead in conducting interviews and focus groups with PSFs already innovating with AI. In particular, this Work Package (WP) aims to understand the practices of innovating firms using AI in the two sectors and co-create understandings of the opportunities and barriers with input from the sector.
Impact Book of cases The book of cases provides a summary of key insights from research into current uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in accountancy and law firms in England. It is designed to act as a stimulus for firms as they consider how AI may be used as they develop their future business plans and consider the role of technology in changing both internal business processes and client offerings. The cases can also be used to inform bespoke design sprints for a firm if one or more approaches seems relevant to future business plans. Each case is relatively brief and provides an overview of the key features of the approach. They are anonymous and synthetic - drawing from multiple examples in order to illustrate the range of approaches and issues associated with different uses of AI. Book of approaches The book of approaches provides a summary of key insights from our research into approaches taken when deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in accounting and law firms in England. The approaches are anonymous examples of how the firms we have studied have gone about developing their AI readiness. We present six exemplary approaches. Each approach deals with one or more of the challenges of deploying AI in accounting and law firms. Firms often use more than one of the approaches documented, but the book is not intended to be a list of approaches that must be followed. Instead, the book is a stimulus for firms as they consider ways of responding to the challenges they face in becoming AI ready. As such, firms might choose the approach(es) that is/are most closely related to the challenge(s) they face. The book of approaches is being written and edited through a collective process led by Lancaster University Management School. The team is able to offer more detailed discussion of each of the cases.
Start Year 2018
 
Description The University of Sheffield and Litig - Uplift project 4 Dilemmas of AI Development and Adoption. 
Organisation Litig
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Litig is a membership group for the Legal IT community established circa 15 years. The Sheffield team have presented about the project to the membership which has resulted in a number of scoping interviews, 3 participants at the scenarios workshop and a firm specific design sprint. We are also partnering with them on the uplift project to anchor research in the perspective of the legal IT leader and use their insight to both shape the research and provide connections across the industry.
Collaborator Contribution The perspective of the legal IT community within professional services firms is a key part of the research, both in terms of subject matter and also guidance. Whereas on the other main project, Litig is a stakeholder group to be consulted, the opportunity is more embedded as a named partner group. This means that there will be some resources within the bid that can be used specifically to support better integration, recognizing that Litig is largely a self-organising, volunteer led group, but in this way collective voice and influence can be brought to bear on the research - and in turn future interventions. Similarly, Litig's involvement will help to ensure greater impact from the research findings by being so close to the target audience. Critically, where members have previously supported existing research activities, every effort will be made to reduce duplication and extend the existing evidence base, as intended by the uplift funding mechanism.
Impact The project gained funding in October 2019. Initial steps have been taken to commence and further establish the relationship with Litig. Following interviews on the 12th February for the RA, the RA will join the project in the near future. Opportunities are being explored to increase research hours towards the end of the project to support and enhance outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description The University of Sheffield and Loughborough University Uplift Project 2 
Organisation Loughborough University
Department School of Business and Economics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As the PI for the emergence and evolution of next generation services project, Professor Tim Vorley has supported Loughborough through management of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research uplift project and for managing, monitoring and ensuring the integrity of the relationship.
Collaborator Contribution The project is built on relational analyses of quantitative datasets of start-ups and incumbents that allows longitudinally probing of the technology confluence driving digital transformation through related variety amongst service firms. This dataset will be enriched with more traditional economic-geographical analysis of clusters and entrepreneurial ecosystems in relevant cases worldwide. Theoretically the project is situated at the intersection between evolutionary economic geography and innovation systems research. Process, augment and analyse the relational dataset using statistical and network-analytical methods on a micro level data. Assist in research engagement activities, collaborate in shared writings to both an academic and professional audience. Responsibility is to process, augment and analyse the relational dataset using statistical and network-analytical methods on a microlevel data. The October-February period was used to achieve four goals: - Refine the quantitative research design to make a knowledge space analysis of Startups and AI technologies across the various service sectors. - Complete the literature review on the Knowledge Space literature and document the method through the interface of the uplift and TECHNGI project. - Identifying a new complementary database. We identified 'DealRoom' database. Noting, TechNation is fed from DealRoom UK data through their API. DealRoom is a robust Database with a wide cover of Europe, UK. Mid-March we will buy 3 licences for the next year. Together with this licence, in May we will renew one Crunchbase licence to complement DealRoom data, with respect to our observed industry/knowledge categories. - Hiring a Research Assistant (RA). There was a delay in the hiring process, due to institutional collaborations having to be formally put in place prior to launching the hiring process. Moreover, a specialist researcher needed to be found. The hiring process was completed in March 2020 and the full scale analysis will commence in April 1 2020.
Impact The project gained funding in October 2019. Initial steps have been taken to commence and further establish the relationship with Loughborough, including but not limited to a ISCFs NextGen research programme group meeting in January to explore and synthesize collaborative working across the ISCFs programme. Following interviews in early March for the RA, the RA will join the project in the near future. Opportunities are being explored to increase research hours towards the end of the project to support and enhance outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description The University of Sheffield and Managing Partners' Forum 
Organisation Managing Partners Forum
Sector Private 
PI Contribution As the PI for Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design project, Professor Tim Vorley has supported the project through management of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research project. The project is a Collaborative Design Challenge with three intersecting phases drawing on the individual expertise of 6 distinct partners. Tim, in his role as PI has, and continues to manage, monitor and ensure the integrity of the relationship. The Sheffield partner provides cross-cutting expertise across the project, focusing on business model and maintains a focus on people's experiences to unlock understanding of the potential use of AI in PSFs. The team further supports the administrative planning, firm recruitment, interviewing and delivery of the 'design sprint'.
Collaborator Contribution The Managing Partners' Forum (hereafter, "the Forum") brings together professional firm leaders to share ideas on strategic leadership and management excellence. Our goal is to support the growth, productivity and prosperity of the UK's largest business sector. This involves connecting and creating value in our own community, and also acting as an independent voice of professional services to Government, and providing direct access to policymakers. As formal co-investigators on the project, a key strength of this collaboration is the Forum's high level of engagement with over a thousand leaders of PSFs of all sizes active across the UK. The Forum provides expert guidance on the strategies and priorities of firms; give the research team access to sector leaders; encourage participation in the project through surveys, interviews and action research projects; share emerging project insights to obtain real time feedback; and support the pathways to impact. Through this multi-level, dynamic engagement with professionals from the sector, the project will co-produce insights grounded in the realities of PSFs, driving the potential for transformation across law and accounting and for impact.
Impact Design Sprint - The Forum's engagement with the sector is a channel for dissemination of the project objectives and its intended outputs. Through its communication channels, the Forum has secured attendance of firms at the first 'design sprint'. Roundtable roadshow - Managing Partners Forum commenced organised an invitation-only roadshow from October 2019 for the leadership teams of local firms, their clients, and local intermediaries to hear from and inform the project researchers and other experts. The content of each roundtable was based on the latest project insights, with cities in each UK region hosting at distinct stages of the project. Technology Summit 11th November 2019; In addition to the roundtables, the Forum's annual member-only Technology Summit in London explored wider technology and adoption issues. This member-only annual event was attended by over 50 mid-tier PSFs and heard Professor Tim Vorley and James Faulconbrudge present the goals and deliverables of the AI adoption research project, the findings from the deep dives and the findings from the design sprints.
Start Year 2018
 
Description The University of Sheffield and Normann Partners 
Organisation NormannPartners
Country Sweden 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution As the PI for Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design project, Professor Tim Vorley has supported the project through management of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research project. The project is a Collaborative Design Challenge with three intersecting phases drawing on the individual expertise of 6 distinct partners. Tim, in his role as PI has, and continues to manage, monitor and ensure the integrity of the relationship. The Sheffield partner provides cross-cutting expertise across the project, focusing on business model and maintains a focus on people's experiences to unlock understanding of the potential use of AI in PSFs. The team further supports the administrative planning, firm recruitment, interviewing and delivery of the 'design sprint'.
Collaborator Contribution Gerard Drenth, partner at NormannPartners is an expert in scenario-planning and systems thinking to better anticipate change in the world of business. Gerard has provided his expertise to facilitate the development of both the design sprints and scenarios for the project.
Impact Futures workshop about AI in professional services firms 15th July 2019. Scenarios are plausible stories about how futures might unfold. We created scenarios for mid-sized firms in the law and accountancy sectors to have strategic conversations in the present and develop strategies to identify or respond to opportunities relating to AI developments. Together in the workshop we explored the key uncertainties identified, and combined these with participants' perspectives to craft scenarios. The result of the workshop is three draft scenarios which we are planning to take forward and eventually publish and share in workshops with firms, regulators and broader stakeholders with the Managing Partners Forum.
Start Year 2018
 
Description The University of Sheffield and The University of Manchester 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As the PI for Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design project, Professor Tim Vorley has supported the project through management of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research project. The project is a Collaborative Design Challenge with three intersecting phases drawing on the individual expertise of 6 distinct partners. Tim, in his role as PI has, and continues to manage, monitor and ensure the integrity of the relationship. The Sheffield partner provides cross-cutting expertise across the project, focusing on business model and maintains a focus on people's experiences to unlock understanding of the potential use of AI in PSFs. The team further supports the administrative planning, firm recruitment, interviewing and delivery of the 'design sprint'.
Collaborator Contribution CI Bruce Tether is Professor of Innovation Management and Strategy at Alliance Manchester Business School (MBS) within the University of Manchester. Bruce is an expert on innovation in services, as well as innovation using design (design methods / design thinking). His research foci also include professional service firms. Bruce is contributing to the project through his understanding of professional services, how innovation in services and service happen, and how design methods can be used to identify and enact opportunities for innovation, particularly in "tasks" in the context of professional services.
Impact The collaboration between the two institutions and more widely, the project team, has contributed to the progress of the project through expertise and experience in both the development and the dissemination of the design sprints.
Start Year 2018
 
Description The University of Sheffield and TheCItyUK - Uplift project 1 Understanding the differential impacts of incubation on NextGenPSF start- ups 
Organisation TheCItyUK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The City UK is the national representative body for financial services and associated professional services (meaning accountancy and legal services). Presently the research team is working through their COO to leverage relationships within their membership base to inform the scoping interviews and existing knowledge base in the market on the core subjects of AI in professional services and incubators.
Collaborator Contribution In respect of the uplift project - Understanding the differential impacts of incubation on NextGenPSF start- ups, having firm connections and industry support for the research is critical, and the The CityUK's endorsement of the project is providing access. This is quite targeted in nature with the partner advising us on market activity such that we can target research activities effectively; whilst the outputs will be of interest to the whole sector, only a handful are currently active in the incubation space for developing next-gen services and hence we need to be efficient with our industry engagement.
Impact The project gained funding in October 2019. Initial steps have been taken to commence and further establish the relationship with The CityUK. Following interviews on the 12th February for the RA, the RA has joined the project. Opportunities are being explored to increase research hours towards the end of the project to support and enhance outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description The University of Sheffield and University of the Arts London 
Organisation University of the Arts London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As the PI for Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design project, Professor Tim Vorley has supported the project through management of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research project. The project is a Collaborative Design Challenge with three intersecting phases drawing on the individual expertise of 6 distinct partners. Tim, in his role as PI has, and continues to manage, monitor and ensure the integrity of the relationship. The Sheffield partner provides cross-cutting expertise across the project, focusing on business model and maintains a focus on people's experiences to unlock understanding of the potential use of AI in PSFs. The team further supports the administrative planning, firm recruitment, interviewing and delivery of the 'design sprint'.
Collaborator Contribution Our project approaches the AI challenge as a 'design challenge' using mixed methods from social science research. By maintaining a focus on exploring potential futures in the present through design thinking and scenario planning this helps uncover the existing and latent needs of PSFs by allowing participants to explore and assess the current state of and potential for AI and the expected trajectories of technological developments over the next few years. Scenario planning involves the creation of a set of plausible, challenging, useful and relevant future contexts that an intended strategy or value creating systems design might find itself in. Very simply, scenario planning is a powerful methodology for navigating under uncertainty and adapting to unknown futures. Run Design Sprints with Firms to Develop Strategies. Led by CI Professor Lucy Kimbell. Define, agree and plan 4-6 'design sprints' ie action research projects with mid-sized firms recruited via the Forum. These will use different methodologies but will share the characteristics of a 'design sprint': a time-limited project in which the research team, led by one RA, works closely with a group of people from one or more firms enabling them to be active co-researchers developing strategies to seize the potential of AI.
Impact Futures workshop about AI in professional services firms 15th July 2019. Scenarios are plausible stories about how futures might unfold. We created scenarios for mid-sized firms in the law and accountancy sectors to have strategic conversations in the present and develop strategies to identify or respond to opportunities relating to AI developments. Together in the workshop we explored the key uncertainties identified, and combined these with participants' perspectives to craft scenarios. The result of the workshop is three draft scenarios which we are planning to take forward and eventually publish and share in workshops with firms, regulators and broader stakeholders with the Managing Partners Forum. Our project has developed an approach to involving participants in the research which combines aspects of social science approaches and traditions, concepts and approaches from design research. We have developed a format we call a 'design sprint' through which we involve participants from firms in the two sectors we are studying. The design sprint involves engagement with firms (either an individual firm, or several at once). It takes the form of pre-meetings/briefing, followed by a one day workshop attended by people from the firms and run by academics from the research team, followed by sharing an output with participants and a follow-up conversation. The approach we are taking integrates concepts and insights from several fields of research, specifically studies of business models, studies of professional firms, operations management, service design, and futures/foresight. During the course of the one-day workshop, participants from the firms engage in discussions (some of which we record) and produce outputs through which they anticipate future professional services, interactions with clients, and ways of organising their firm, enabled or enhanced by AI. These outputs include annotated frameworks about future business models and change, models of future client interactions and firms, storyboards and drawings. This is data we analyse alongside the discussion about them in the workshop setting. Analysing these discussions and outputs gives us insights into the possibilities and barriers to adoption of AI in professional services firms.
Start Year 2018
 
Description 2019 - New York Fathomless Futures: Algorithmic and Imagined 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Established in 1989, SASE owes its remarkable success to the determination to provide a platform for creative research addressing important social problems. Throughout its three decades, SASE has encouraged and hosted rigorous work of any methodological or theoretical bent from around the world based on the principle that innovative research emerges from paying attention to wider context and connecting knowledge developed in different fields.

The presentation raised the profile of the project in policy circles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://sase.org/event/2019-new-york-city/
 
Description AI in English Law workshop : Nikolaos Aletras (The University of Sheffield) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Recent advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) provide us with the tools to build predictive models that can be used to unveil patterns correlating to judicial decisions. This can be useful, for both lawyers and judges, as an assisting tool to rapidly identify cases and extract patterns which lead to certain decisions. In the talk, Nikolao Aletras presented his work on data-driven legal judgement prediction using NLP and ML techniques focusing on the European Court of Human Rights. More specifically, he presented traditional feature-based models and more sophisticated neural networks for violation and case importance prediction. Finally, he presented an analysis on whether predictive models are biased towards demographic information via data anonymization.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/events/ai-english-law-workshop-nikolaos-aletras-university-sheffield
 
Description Accountancy Age Roadshows 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Accountancy Age, launched in 1969, is a key publication for accountants working in practice in the UK. Celebrating 50 years of Accountancy Age, a series of roadshows reinforcing the growing relationship between accountancy and technology were organised and ran throughout 2019. The Next Generation Professional Services Firms (hereafter, "NextGenPSF") team were invited as panelists to nationwide events where the panel was discussing 'How will the future accountant feature in the business landscape'. The team were also attendees at roadshows where the focus was on people and future technology.

The Roadshows ran in Bristol, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and London.

Attendance at the event not only provided a platform for key networking in the targeted industry but also generated interest in participation of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://twitter.com/hashtag/AARoadShow?src=hashtag_click
 
Description Data Science and Law Lab event, Maastricht University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Maastricht Law and Tech Lab ('The Lab') aims to produce cutting-edge research, to offer innovative education, and to build a creative community of researchers, teachers, students and practitioners at the intersections of law, technology, data science and knowledge engineering.

The Lab hosted an Oxford Union-style debate on the meaning of intelligence, humans and machines on "The Future of AI in Law".

The conference commenced with an overview of the history of AI and Law in legal publications: which topics have been discussed in the field of AI in Law? This introduction is followed by presentations, which are guided by four questions:

Panel 1. What can AI mean for the Law?;
Panel 2: How to conduct AI in Law research?;
Panel 3: Case studies beyond case law;
Panel 4: Value-driven AI in Law research.

Presenters used their research on prediction, text mining, machine learning, and legal forecasting to illustrate what AI in Law research can mean, what the potential is, and what are the limitations of AI in Law research. The examples will be about court cases (Panel 2) as well as other application domains (Panel 3), for example consumer protection and law enforcement. Ethical aspects and fair algorithmic decision making will be discussed from a computational perspective.

The Keynote will address re-identification in datasets. In a recent publication, it was found that 99.98% of Americans would be correctly re-identified in any dataset using 15 demographic attributes. The results raise questions whether GDPR requirements can be met and seriously challenge the technical and legal adequacy of de-identification.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/events/law-tech-lab-launching-event
 
Description Employment Outlook on the Future of Work 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On 25th April at the Work Foundation in London, James Faulconbridge used insights from the NextGenPSF project to contribute to a panel discussion on the OECD's 2019 Employment Outlook report which focuses on the future of work. The report highlights the need to focus more on working with new technologies such as AI and less on the jobs that might be lost -the OECD's research suggests it is how tasks associated with particular jobs will change that is of greatest significance. This aligns well with the initial findings of the NextGenPSF project.

In his contribution, James focused on the change process associated with AI adoption. He highlighted the importance of examining what it means to work with AI, and how this applies to professionals as much as lower skilled workers. James highlighted the need to examine the way firms handle the transitions involved. In our project this relates to the way the work practices of accountants and lawyers change. In particular this raises questions about how firms can enable the transitions involved through training, support for learning in practice as part of day-to-day work and active management of the structures of teams and work relationships.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/employment/oecd-employment-outlook-2019_9ee00155-en
 
Description Engagement with The Forums law and accountancy firm contacts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Forum sent 1,057 emails regarding dissemination and engagement of both the project and specifically the roundtables to leaders of professional services firms across the UK on 4 October 2019. Personal follow ups (phone, email etc) in late October /early November to c250 from the list based in or near relevant cities for the initial sessions (Sheffield, Cambridge and Birmingham).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.mpfglobal.com/artificial-intelligence/ai-adoption-project.aspx
 
Description Launching Next Generation Services 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Launching Next Generation Services. Our project launch with our primary concern around the human (i.e non-technical) aspect of implementing new AI technologies in mid-sized accounting and legal services firms. Professor Tim Vorley and Professor Lucy Kimbell presented at BEIS, London. The NextGenPSF project aims to help those driving the AI agenda in MMFs to get to a better place quicker.

The blog on the NextGenPSF website https://sites.google.com/sheffield.ac.uk/nextgenpsf/newsblog is designed to strength our online presence, for information purposes and to encourage mid-market legal or accountancy firms to participate in the research or design sprints.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://sites.google.com/sheffield.ac.uk/nextgenpsf/newsblog#h.p_3-NaTX5BA8o7
 
Description Law Firms, New Technologies and Innovation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation given by Professor Bruce Tether regarding the project to Manchester LawTech. The initiative had a dedicated aim to publish research and create curriculum content that is focused purely on the successful use of technology in the legal sector.

The presentation to the group was used to inform them regarding the project objectives and was aimed at eliciting interest in collaboration with the project through future design sprints. Q&A highlighted the areas of interest to the firms in attendance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Legal Geek Conference 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Legal Geek Conference attracted attendees from 40 countries and even trended on Twitter.

Attendance at the conference was to facilitate networking with industry peers, expand the knowledge of the team and to promote the project to other attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Legal Hackers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Professor Tim Vorley, as one of the key members of the project team, discussed the aims of the project and how law and accountancy professional service firms can get involved. The focus of the project was on addressing how AI technologies can be successfully embedded within such disciplines, through analysing the challenges and needs of stakeholders and developing key strategies from this analysis. The format of the event was networking at the beginning, then a presentation and more chance to network afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nextgen-psf-adopting-ai-technologies-in-law-and-accountancy-tickets-9...
 
Description MPF Forum - AI Technology Summit re: AI readiness 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Technology Summit, 11th November 2019, Managing Partners' Forum Conference; presented 'Is your firm 'AI ready'? Does it matter? What's really happening?'. The core of the Forum's 2019 Technology Summit was an update on the project from the team of researchers at four leading business schools (from The University of Sheffield, The University of Manchester, Lancaster University and University of the Arts London).

The Forum's annual member-only Technology Summit in London explored wider technology and adoption issues. This event was attended by over 50 mid-tier Professional Service Firms and heard Professor Tim Vorley and James Faulconbridge present the goals and deliverables of the AI adoption research project, the findings from the deep dives and the findings from the design sprints.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://sites-pmi.vuturevx.com/8/1175/august-2019/the-technology-summit--is-your-firm--ai-ready---do...
 
Description Next Gen Services Project Assembly 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Professor Tim Vorley provided an overview of the NextGenPSF project (see the above video), alongside John Armour (University of Oxford) and Alistair Milne (Loughborough University) . The presentations highlighted clear links across the projects relating to the blurring of boundaries at the frontiers of the professions, as well as emphasising the importance of business models and business model innovation. Critically for the NextGenPSF project we recognised that the threat to mid-tier legal and accounting firms comes from above (i.e. the investment of the Big 4 and Magic Circle) as well as below (i.e. the start-ups disrupting through accounting, audit and legal-tech).

Another important outcome from the day was the emphasis on data. While frequently referred to as the 'new oil', it is imperative that the critical and value added of the refining process not be overlooked. Jeni Tennison (CEO, Open Data Institute) raised the importance of data as infrastructure and the need to ensure that the appropriate institutions are in place to ensure the future competitiveness of data intensive business and sectors. This challenge will be addressed directly by the NextGenPSF project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description NextGenPSF Design Sprints 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact To understand the future potential of AI in the law and accountancy firms services sectors, the project uses the lens of business models, which provides a 'blueprint' for how a business operates and captures value. A design thinking approach to business model innovation provides a distinctive perspective and ultimately competitive advantage for firms. Our proposed project approaches the AI challenge as a 'design challenge' using mixed methods from social science research.

During the initial stages of the NextGenPSF project we are collaborating with Professional Service Firms through design sprints. These highly interactive and collaborative workshops allow professionals working in law and accountancy firms to rethink their value propositions and improve their AI readiness. The sprints encouraged the participants to consider three scenarios that could reshape the legal services and accounting landscape by 2030 and to map out potential tools to embrace technological innovation. The aim of the sprints is to consider the barriers and opportunities to the adoption of AI in the respective sectors and to encourage proactive strategic thinking towards future horizons
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMBxeGon0xo
 
Description NextGenPSF Futures Workshop about AI in professional services firms 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 30 friendly stakeholders from across accountancy and law firms, including clients; regulators; technology providers and others, with different stakes in, and perspectives on, topics relating to AI technologies in professional services attended the workshop. Key uncertainties identified in the NextGenPSF teams research, were combined with the participants perspectives to craft scenarios. Through bringing together a diverse mix we unlocked different assumptions about technological change, business models and professional services.

The workshop generated 3 scenarios which the team have taken forward and will publish and share in future workshops with firms, regulators and broader stakeholders. Scenarios are plausible stories about how futures might unfold.The scenarios we have created for mid-sized firms in the two sectors will support strategic conversations in the present and enable development of strategies to identify or respond to opportunities relating to AI developments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description POMS International Conference 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Production and Operations Management Society 2019 conference was hosted by the University of Sussex Business School and sponsored by the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School and Kingston Business School. Martin Spring presented 'Artificial intelligence in professional service operations: insights from law and accounting'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.poms2019.com/
 
Description Presentation of project at Oxford conference on AI in law 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Attendance at the conference had three main objectives; to build and enhance a professional network in the AI field with industry peers and professional services; to expand the knowledge and understanding of Professional Service Firms activities around AI; to present the project to others to gain their buy in to engage with the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description The first 'Design Sprint' @ Work Foundation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The first of a series of design sprints with legal services and accounting firms took place at the Work Foundation in London. The first sprint was run with a mixture of 'friendly' firms, academics from partners Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund's research group and funder representatives. The objective of the first sprint was to gain valuable insight from the projects key stakeholders into the development and shaping of the scenarios and design sprints.

The first session at the Work Foundation involved 6 firms who engaged in workshops exploring a series of targeted topics through guided activities and group discussion. These included sessions that enabled the participants to map out and reflect on their firms' existing business models, consider the need for, challenges and opportunities of business model innovation to support the adoption of AI-based technologies, immerse themselves into future potential scenarios involving AI and consider how these may impact or reshape their current activities, reimagine service delivery and discuss the future of professional services.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Treasury Management Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Lead on content dissemination through Accountancy Age team. Speaker slot - 30 mins on project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019