We are in the early stages of a fourth industrial revolution.

New technologies are set to affect nearly every aspect of how we live and work, disrupting major organisations, whole sectors of the economy, and entire professions.

The first of six challenge papers, the fourth industrial revolution, follows on from the launch of our discussion paper which set out our plans for a ‘big conversation’ in 2019-20 about the future of the project profession.

How does the project profession thrive in a changing world? That’s the question at the heart of Projecting the Future. We look forward to your views.




The fourth industrial revolution - 4IR, or sometimes ‘industry 4.0’ - will be driven by technology that closes the gap between the physical and cyber worlds.

More than anything else, this technological revolution will drive the evolution of the project profession in the years ahead and the emergence of what we have dubbed
project management 4.0.

Fields like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, robotics, nanotechnology, quantum computing and biotechnology all carry huge potential. Combined, they will allow humans to do things that were simply unimaginable to previous generations. They will lead to enormous innovation both in commercial products and services and in public services, like healthcare.

New technology will also profoundly change how we work. In many cases, technology promises to replace human labour: as it advances, we will be able to automate increasingly sophisticated tasks. Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, has said that as many as 15 million jobs could be lost to automation in the UK over the next decade. Globally, it could be 800 million.

But such forecasts are far from certain – and, eye-catching as they are, can risk overshadowing the enormous upsides and opportunities created by 4IR technologies. The automation of standardisable tasks will generate huge productivity gains, which could add billions of pounds to the UK economy.

New jobs and new companies will be created: and they could be better, more engaging jobs, oriented around creativity and human relationships, rather than the execution of repetitive tasks. Seizing such opportunities is a critical challenge for coming years.

So it is no surprise that this area is high on the UK policy agenda and of huge relevance to the project profession. The government’s Industrial Strategy identifies AI and the data economy as one of its four ‘grand challenges’ and sets a policy objective of putting the UK “at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution”. To pursue that goal, an Office for Artificial Intelligence was formed in 2018.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the fourth industrial revolution could change nearly every aspect of our lives. The implications for project management are equally far-reaching.



Throughout Projecting the Future, we want to explore the questions that matter about the future of the project profession.

We want to hear your views, ideas and case studies relating to these questions – and if we have missed a critical question that you think needs to be discussed, we want to hear that too.


  1. How do you expect 4IR to affect the project profession over the next 5-10 years?
  2. If 25% of work that a CEO does today could be replaced by AI, could this also apply to project professionals? What tools and techniques could be adapted with automation and AI?
  3. How could the project profession accelerate its adoption of new technology?
  4. Which parts of the project profession’s work should remain human-led?
  5. Does the project profession have the knowledge and skills needed to deliver value to organisations as they transformation and adopt of 4IR technologies? Can the project profession work effectively with technologists and business decision-makers to provide the leadership needed?
  6. How is your work changing as a result of big data, robotics and AI? Can you provide examples of where are organisations today are adapting and implementing new technology effectively to deliver projects successfully?



We are particularly keen to hear about case studies of projects that are making innovative use of data, autonomous systems or AI today.

Have your say in our LinkedIn discussion below. 



  have your say

Join APM

Sign up to the APM Newsletter.