There’s a whole lot of data out there. That’s all well and good, but it does leave us with one small problem: There’s not enough brainpower to turn all that information into sound decisions.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and all that other disruptive tech we hear so much about could be the antidote to the data deluge. But that’s been the mantra for an awfully long time. So PM Network® asked three project leaders to weigh in on where AI really stands… and where it could go.
It’s not about robots helping us choose what to wear or what to order from the market (although that is pretty cool). For project teams, it’s more about the potential to process loads of data to reveal relationships, identify risks and predict outcomes.
“AI can then derive patterns … that we can use to make better-educated estimates, like whether you’ll finish a project on time,” says Audrius Zujus, founder and CEO of Aresi Labs.
AI can also help plug the holes left by human nature, says Geetha Gopal, PMP, assistant manager, product owner, bot services and projects at Daimler South East Asia. “Ultimately, data-driven decision making will help project managers to look beyond common intuitive biases.”
AI has its limits, however.
“People misuse the terms ‘AI’ or ‘machine learning’ as if they’re magic that can do anything we want,” says Bruno Rafael de Carvalho Santos, CAPM, PMP, project manager at the Sedimentary Geology Laboratory and Coppetec Foundation. Spoiler alert: They can’t. Not yet.
Still, things are moving pretty fast. Over the next three years, project leaders expect the share of projects they manage using AI will increase from 23 percent to 37 percent, according to PMI’s 2019 AI Innovators: Cracking the Code on Project Performance report.
What does that mean for careers? Will AI will replace human project managers? Not likely—although it may change their role. “Machine learning tools and automation will free people from tedious, repetitive activities so they can focus on strategic activities,” says Ms. Gopal.
It’s admittedly easy to get caught up in the swirl of negative news about technology. Some of this stuff is legitimately scary. But harnessed in the right way, tech can also help project managers achieve amazing things. Case in point: The same issue of PM Network covers how next-gen tech is helping teams map plans to restore the nearly destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral. A 3D laser scan of the historic structure has generated documentation that can tell teams the precise curves of a flying buttress or the original thickness of support beams that might need to be replaced.
That’s how we should be using tech. But are we?