This qualitative exploratory study was designed to discover the impact emerging exponential technologies (EmX technologies) have and will increasingly have on the talent and business models of knowledge-intensive services (KIS) firms. This research indicated the importance of talent and the extent to which talent is likely to be augmented or replaced due to these technologies. The dichotomy between talent and technology was of particular interest as KIS firms have generally based their ability to compete purely on their recruited and trained talent. The rationale for this study is that the researcher found limited academically published research addressing the impact of how KIS firms could increasingly use EmX technologies to enhance their competitive advantage in the market, while many of these firms face intensified client expectations and increased competitor rivalry. It was the researcher’s assumption that this research would aid KIS firms to obtain a more profound understanding of how they could use EmX technologies to modify their business models as a means of gaining a competitive advantage over their competitors.
A judgement sample of ten senior executives in KIS firms was selected and in-depth interviews were employed as the primary data-collection method. The data was coded and organised according to the research questions. The analysis and interpretations of findings was structured to answer each of the research questions.
This research revealed that EmX technologies are likely to evolve KIS firms’ business models to ensure greater use of these technologies through adopting digital strategies that better enable their talent; enhance their products and services and how they are delivered and alter their methodologies, processes and structures to gain an initial competitive advantage. Resultantly, KIS firms are likely to obtain reputational benefits of being ‘idea leaders’, which aids in differentiating them in the market; they would be able to better scale their businesses and achieve cost efficiencies. However, KIS firms would need to keep innovating as their competitors rapidly imitate any successful implementations. Various talent and business model recommendations were made to KIS firms in this study to help them take advantage of EmX technologies in an effective way.