"You can dream, create, design, and build the most beautiful place in the world, but it requires people to make it a reality." – Walt Disney
The evolution and functional application of artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise in many different ways and forms. The technology is going to impact the role of the project manager substantially in the next decade. We are shifting towards an era where intelligent machines work on our behalf rather than work on our command.
The enthusiasm for the emerging technology is outranking the skepticism by far. A recent poll held during the Microsoft Emerging Tech Virtual Summit showed that 59 percent of the participants find AI "supercool," 36 percent take a more conservative position, and 5 percent are deeply worried. The outcome is encouraging and indicates people's readiness to adopt the technology in their life and work.
Driving forces like growth of computing power, maturity of cloud technologies, and enhancements in algorithms boost the evolution of AI in the last 5 to 10 years. Tractica, a market intelligence company that focuses on human interaction with technology, predicts a steep curve in AI revenue. They predict "annual worldwide AI revenue to grow from $643.7 million in 2016 to $36.8 billion by 2025."
AI as technology exists for decades, but we may not have realized that as much as we do today. Imagine that the postal industry world wide is processing billions of documents and parcels using AI since the 1970s. They automatically sort items and trigger distribution events based on text recognition software.
It is widely expected that AI is going to replace routine tasks that are highly predictable. In this case, the spectrum of change holds all possible colors. It means that all jobs will be impacted, some more than others. Evidence-based decision making enabled by AI will become a standard for many jobs. It is already happening in the health care industry.
Non-routine tasks that have a high degree of uncertainty and that require creativity and social interaction will continue to be performed by humans. AI will struggle with recognizing patterns in the available data set and is therefore unable to understand and process a transaction. For these non-routine tasks, AI will enhance and scale the role of humans by acting as an advisor instead of a worker. The following diagram illustrates that.
The role of the project manager is going to change with the infusion of AI into the work environment. I wrote the white paper The augmented project manager about it. The document speaks about artificial intelligence or cognitive computing in more detail and how it can be applied to the role of the project manager.
The value of AI for project management is immense. It is a matter of time that AI roots itself deeper and deeper in the role of the project manager. We know that AI as technology is making rapid progress. We also know that the application is the hardest part. To channel and expedite a meaningful adoption in the role of the project manager, I am working with business partners to found a think tank. I will keep you informed about the progress we make in this blog on CIO.com.
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