Why you should be curious about AI

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How AI will affect the future of project management was the subject taken to task by Tom Ollerton, founder of Automated Creative, at APM’s Project Management Conference London held earlier this year.

Ollerton’s business devises online advertising for clients using creative AI technology. Automated Creative is a tech platform that sits between a client’s creative and media agency. “We're reinventing advertising with human intelligence and machine creativity,” he explains.

Putin and Trump singing along together

There is a lot of hype and fear around AI, especially how we can be duped by it. Ollerton began his presentation with a startling video that had gone viral earlier in the year that demonstrates how AI can be used to create deepfake videos. These work by analysing images of a particular face and then using this to convincingly mimic the real person. Take a look at the convincing attempt at showing world leaders singing along to John Lennon’s “Imagine” here.

Is AI needed by project managers?

While there is much to seemingly perturb us about AI, the real question for project managers, urged Ollerton was ‘is it needed for project management?’ His answer was a resounding ‘yes’, citing the huge amount of money spent in projects, and the fact that fewer than half are completed on time and to budget.

“In the short term, there are lots of interesting chatbots out there and in the mid-term, there will be AIs that are autonomous monotony that are just pulling reports, scheduling meetings and making sure that people are delivering nudges”, he explained. “A lot of the humdrum, low cognitive, boring tasks will be automated.”

The rise of the proactive project AI

In the future however we can expect to see the development of proactive AIs that will suggest solutions to problems in projects. “They will be able to look at a broad range of suppliers, a broad range of timelines and a broad range of deliverables and will be able to know ahead of time when things are going to go wrong,” said Ollerton.

These proactive AIs won’t just alert project managers to the problems that might arise but suggest solutions (and which project manager wouldn’t like that?).

Share knowledge and experience

The key message for project managers that Ollerton wanted to get across to the audience however was: “to be curious about the potential for artificial intelligence and project management.” He is concerned that as a profession, project management might be left behind, certainly in terms of the volume of start-ups using AI to create new tools.

Ollerton explained that whereas fintech, sales and marketing and health are sectors seeing massive investment in AI start-ups, the same cannot be said for project management sector. “Maybe that’s because project management is a very human business, but I think there is a huge opportunity for start-ups to create project management tools for a room of people like this”.

Ollerton said that smart, motivated leaders of tomorrow will come together and form some sort of community to share their knowledge and experience of using AI tools in project management, whether that’s by creating a conference, a WhatsApp group or a private Facebook group.

AI start-ups are here to help

He mentioned start-ups already experimenting in this area, including Aptage, which uses AI to constantly recalculate if a project will be delivered on time and on budget. The company claims to bring “state of the art forecasting and Augmented Intelligence for agile projects”.

Ollerton also mentioned Ayoga, which provides construction project management software. It explains itself as: “a cloud-based collaboration platform that organises projects to provide the right information at the right time for you to strategise, better deliver project milestones and take well informed business decisions”.

Automated Insights, meanwhile wants to “empower organisations to generate human-sounding narratives from data, making it easy to produce real-time written analytics, personalised reports and stories at scale, which writes reports using spreadsheets.”

Are you experimenting with AI project tools?

Are you one of the early adopters of AI? Project would like to hear from you, get in touch with editor Emma De Vita at emma.devita@thinkpublishing.co.uk.

You may be interested in:

  • APM’s forthcoming challenge paper “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Robotics, Data and Artificial Intelligence” to be published as part of the Projecting the Future big conversation.
  • APM’s paper The Robot Professional, which argued that project professionals will have to learn from the wider environment, explore, and be prepared to leverage digital at its best. This means providing leadership, identifying opportunities and acting to seize them.
Emma De Vita

Posted by Emma De Vita on 22nd Jul 2019

About the Author

Emma De Vita is editor of Project, the official journal of the APM that’s available (free!) to all members.

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