AI

How AI Is Changing the Role of Project Managers

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rtificial intelligence (AI) is here, and it is here to stay. Long-time program manager Ramkumar Armugan touched on it in our post ‘Artificial Intelligence: Doomsday or Blessing’.

There, Armugan allayed fears that AI will terminate many jobs. He emphasized Gartner’s prediction that AI, by 2020, will actually create more jobs than it eliminates. He was quick to point out, though that “cognification will lead to a change in job roles, rather than their eradication.”

This change in job roles is evident in project management, where AI is fast modifying the role of project managers. What is notable is that these changes can actually enhance productivity, and at the same time accentuate many of their best attributes, like creativity, leadership, emotional intelligence, and problem solving.

Assistance from Chatbots

Chatbots

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PwC claim chatbots are being utilised as project assistants, with their roles mainly confined to human-computer interactions. The tasks of chatbots are those considered “menial,” like organizing team meetings and reminding team members about scheduled activities.

Fireflies.ai, aka Slackbot, is a prime example of a chatbot. It processes conversations and recognizes tasks and assignments for professionals using the collaboration tool Slack. Stratejos.ai, a smart assistant for managing software teams, is another example. Among its many features are sending reminders and its ability to track performance.

With menial, repetitive work taken care of, project managers can then focus more on leading people, setting the vision and direction of the team, coming up with creative solutions for problems, and communicating with upper management.

Help from Machine Learning

Machine Learning

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One aspect of AI that is fast becoming a game changer in project management is machine learning. This technology allows predictive analysis, thus easing the pressure on project managers in terms of decision-making. Machine learning can analyse big data, and then provide advice to project managers based on the results.

This, in turn, enhances the quality of decision-making, as machine learning lets project managers navigate through a collection of sometimes, disparate data. It can, for instance, advise a project manager on how to set up and lead a team using a set of identified parameters or criteria.

Perhaps just as important, machine learning allows project managers to “learn” from past mistakes. It can analyse the team’s historical performance and identify which measures or decisions yielded the most positive results, and which ones led to negative outcomes. Therefore, it will be much easier to eliminate repeating past mistakes.

As PM Today notes in a feature on AI in project management, “one of the main benefits of artificial intelligence technology is the capacity to analyse large amounts of data and to take actions based on patterns of data matched to historical precedent.” This historical precedent includes project plans, performance indicators, and yes, risks.

Changing Workforce

workforce

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One area that project managers will notice a di!erence in the future is the workforce under them.

A Verdict report on the e!ect of AI in the workforce does underscore the optimism previously shared by Armugan that AI will not replace employees on a large scale. Evidence reveals that AI will truly have “a considerable disruptive e!ect on work, with some jobs being lost, others being created, and others changing.” Project managers will have to constantly adapt to a ‘shifting business environment’.

At the moment, Europe is facing a rather uncertain future as it shifts to a greater reliance on machine learning. FXCM’s economic calendar reading on Europe’s business climate, which is linked to industrial production in the European Union (EU), shows that it is currently quite volatile. This volatility is driven by a variety of factors, with one of them being the disruption likely caused by AI in Europe’s manufacturing and industrial industry. This disruption, again, is not limited to jobs being lost; it also involves the nature of certain jobs being changed due to technology such as AI.

With these changing roles, project managers are expected to keep up with the times. That means learning how to use AI, so that it becomes a complement, and not a hindrance, to e!ective performance. This retraining is crucial in the human-AI dynamic, and will help ensure great results.

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