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AI is developing rapidly — here’s what project managers need to know now

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As 2024 unfolds, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into project delivery is transitioning from futuristic vision to tangible reality.

This shift, marked by innovation and efficiency, is not only reshaping project feasibility studies and planning, but also redefining execution strategies. The rapid advancements in AI can be overwhelming and hard to keep up with, so below I’m going to break down some of the key issues to be aware of.

Augmenting, not replacing

The impact of AI on work and jobs is on everyone’s mind. However, there are conflicting reports, and in truth it’s difficult to predict the impact right now.

According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), there has been a significant shift towards AI augmenting human roles, rather than replacing them. A report by the UK Department for Education, meanwhile, notes that “a consensus has begun to emerge that 10–30% of jobs in the UK are highly automatable and could be subject to some level of automation over the next two decades”.

However, most roles are likely to be complemented by AI, suggesting a future where human intellect collaborates with AI for enhanced outcomes. To allow us to complement our roles with AI, we need to understand it.

This evolution in the job market calls for a proactive approach in workforce development, emphasising the need for reskilling and upskilling to harness the collaborative potential of humans and AI.

The ILO report indicates that the greatest impact of generative AI technology may not be job destruction, but changes in job quality, including work intensity and autonomy. This shift in the labour market underscores the need for organisations to rethink job roles and prepare for a future where AI is an integral part of the workforce.

Luckily, APM and the Project Data Analytics Taskforce have developed their own project data analytics skills guidance, which I was proud to be a part of.

How AI drives continuous improvement

I have discussed the impact on feasibilities and planning in previous blogs, but what about on-site?

Here at Gleeds, we’re utilising innovative AI technology with ‘Visualise’, providing real-time, 360-degree progress updates for enhanced on-site transparency. Visualise is being used for a significant education building programme in South America. By efficiently documenting each site using off-the-shelf 360-degree cameras, Visualise creates a trusted visual record available to project teams in around 15 minutes. This enables globally distributed project teams to access near real-time construction updates from any device.

Another example is the collaboration between Kingston University and Galliford Try, which showcases the transformative role of AI in construction. The partnership is working on a £261,000 project, co-funded by Innovate UK, to develop an AI tool for quality management, risk management and waste minimisation. This tool aims to improve ‘right first time’ delivery and streamline decision-making processes, increasing operational efficiency.

The project includes field trials on Galliford Try schemes, with a Kingston research associate embedded in Galliford Try’s innovation team for seamless data access and real-time optimisation. Reinvestment of savings generated by the technology will drive continuous improvement of processes and productivity — and sustainability, through effective waste management.

New guidelines on the security implications

The emergence of AI in project delivery brings to the fore critical aspects of security and regulation. Both the British Standards Institute and the Cabinet Office have recently published guidelines on AI, which underscores the importance of ethical AI usage, balancing the benefits with security measures and privacy concerns. As AI continues to permeate project management, these guidelines are a welcome addition to help companies navigate the complexity of its adoption.

OpenAI recently launched the GPT Store for ChatGPT, which gives users the power to create their own AI agents. It is remarkable to see how far AI models have come and the potential they have for businesses. Now, with tailored AI solutions, companies can leverage customised tools for all sorts of applications, even project delivery.

The integration of AI into project delivery is happening, and although I predict that some of the buzz and hype will subside, this will not stop progress, which appears to be exponential.

You can stay updated with developments in AI by subscribing to my newsletter for a free weekly round-up of all the latest news about AI in project delivery.


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