With the decision to build an AI-based product comes the choice of which path to follow.
There are pros and cons to both establishing an in-house AI team and hiring an AI consultant. The choice of which model will best serve your company should rely on substantial evidence supporting each option rather than being influenced by personal preferences or staff availability.
One thing remains certain: whether you’re developing an AI-based solution or a digital product that could leverage AI, having people who know the ropes is essential. It applies to companies of all sizes and product stages. That’s why we will delve deeper into this topic today. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Start with why and what, not who
We’re afraid it’s not that simple if you’re hoping for straightforward answers. As providers of artificial intelligence consulting services, we may suggest that outsourcing is optimal. However, there are instances where having in-house AI consultants is the better choice, and we will precisely outline those circumstances.
So, you’re intending to develop an AI-based product. Perhaps you already have a proof of concept or are well into its development. The initial question you should ask yourself is, why do I need AI consultancy? What are my expectations concerning the outcomes? What type of collaboration do I expect?
The difference between an AI consultant and an in-house AI team
Before we proceed, let’s briefly summarize the topics we will discuss to ensure we’re on the same page. In-house AI development refers to the process of creating AI products using your own team of experts. It involves recruiting and hiring AI professionals, equipping them with the necessary tools, and closely managing their tasks to help you achieve your goals.
On the flip side, AI consultancy outsourcing involves engaging an external service provider that offers guidance, expertise, and strategic advice on artificial intelligence technologies and tools. They can then supervise and oversee the development process.
Pros of an in-house AI team
Pros of an in-house AI team include:
- Fast response to changes: In-house AI team allows for flexibility and immediate adaptability to changes. When unexpected issues or requirements arise, the team can quickly address them without relying on external parties. This agility can lead to faster development cycles and efficient problem-solving.
- Direct communication: An in-house AI team allows for immediate face-to-face contact, ensuring smooth and easy communication among team members. It also enables quick feedback loops and reduces the potential for miscommunication.
- Full control: With an in-house AI team, you have complete ownership and decision-making power over the team’s activities and outcomes.
- Knowledge retention: Building an in-house AI team enables you to retain expertise and knowledge within the organization. Team members can accumulate valuable domain-specific knowledge to apply to other projects.
Cons of an in-house AI team
Cons of an in-house AI team include:
- Costs: Establishing and maintaining an in-house AI team is no doubt expensive. It involves costs such as office space, equipment, employee benefits, paid holiday and sick leave, and training. These financial commitments can significantly burden the organization, particularly for smaller businesses or startups with limited resources.
- Hiring and project termination: Building an in-house AI team requires recruiting and hiring qualified professionals. The recruitment process is time-consuming, as finding the right talent with AI expertise can be competitive. Additionally, if the team’s workload fluctuates or projects end, the organization may face the difficulty of managing layoffs or finding new projects to keep the team engaged. If there is a high employee churn, your experts take the knowledge they have gained with them.
- Lower versatility: An in-house AI team may lack a diverse skill set and expertise. By focusing solely on building an onsite team, the organization may have limited access to specialists in, for example, data augmentation, computer vision, or natural language processing. It can restrict the team’s ability to deliver holistic, well-rounded AI solutions.
- Lower innovativeness: Highly skilled AI experts often prefer working in environments that offer project variety and the opportunity to explore different domains. The lack of access to the Research and Development team may also affect project innovativeness.
On a side note, you might find this article on how to build software development helpful.
Pros of an AI consultant
Here are the key pros of artificial intelligence consultancy:
- Cost efficiency: AI consultants often operate on a “time and material” basis, where the expenses depend on the hours worked and resources explicitly used for the project. It allows for more flexibility in managing costs, especially compared to maintaining a full in-house team with fixed salaries and overhead costs. You’ll read more about the topic in our article on reducing software development costs.
- Objective perspective: Artificial intelligence consulting services can provide impartial and objective perspective on your AI undertakings. A third-party viewpoint may be crucial to identify areas for improvement or potential problems that might not be visible to the internal team. Their unbiased assessment often leads to more accurate decision-making and strategic management.
- Diverse skills: Hiring an artificial intelligence consultant allows organizations to access a broader talent pool, benefiting from a wide array of skills and experiences that might not be available in-house, like machine learning consultants. They bring diverse perspectives and deep knowledge in their respective domains, enabling them to provide valuable solutions.
- Talent acquisition: Hiring and managing an in-house AI team can be challenging, as it requires finding, recruiting, and retaining top AI talent. Regarding AI outsourcing, AI consultancy eliminates the need for the organization to handle HR-related issues. The consultant takes care of assembling a skilled team and ensures the availability of qualified professionals throughout the project duration.
- Efficiency: AI consultants specialize in their field and have extensive experience working on AI projects. It allows them to efficiently navigate the complexities of AI development, deployment, and management. Simplified project management and efficiency often lead to faster delivery and time-to-market.
Cons of an AI consultant
Disadvantages of AI outsourcing include:
- Time zone differences: One of the significant challenges in outsourcing is dealing with time zone differences. Depending on the geographical location of the outsourced team, there may be a considerable time gap between your working hours and theirs. It can hinder real-time collaboration, decision-making, and prompt issue resolution. However, choosing the right outsourcing provider helps avoid time zones affecting seamless cooperation. Another way to overcome this challenge is nearshoring.
- Commitment: When working with an outsourced AI team, sometimes it can be more demanding to establish a sense of commitment and alignment toward a common goal. However, experienced AI consultants can maintain an excellent level of dedication and involvement, just as well as onsite teams.
- Project oversight: Hiring an AI consultant involves relinquishing a certain level of direct control and oversight over the project. However, it’s important to note that with the right people and effective communication channels in place, you can still maintain good visibility into the day-to-day activities and progress of the project. Trusting the AI consultant’s expertise is crucial, and regular monitoring ensures that the project stays on track and aligns with your expectations.
The best thing is…
We kept the most exciting part until the end. You don’t have to choose between an AI consultant and your internal AI team. In fact, fostering close collaboration between the two can be not only possible but also highly beneficial.
By leveraging the AI consultant’s expertise, you can tap into specialized knowledge and gain valuable insights that may not be readily available within your internal team. The consultant can bring fresh perspectives, industry best practices, and cutting-edge technologies to the table, enhancing the quality and effectiveness of your AI system. At the same time, your internal AI team deeply understands your organization’s unique context, processes, and goals. Their familiarity with the organization’s culture and dynamics enables them to identify opportunities and challenges specific to your operations.
By fostering a collaborative environment, you can harness the strengths of both parties. The AI consultant can work closely with your internal team, leveraging their expertise to guide and advise on AI strategy, project planning, and implementation.
Feel free to reach out to us for further information on hiring our AI consultants.