PM Open Space

Project Management In The Digital Age

Pavana Ramesh Chandra, PMP

The June edition of PM Open Space held at ABB had a special guest. The renowned Prof. S. Sadagopan, Professor and Director (President), IIIT, whose columns in popular newspapers you might have all read at least once. The session was about “Project Management In The Digital Age” and the professor didn’t disappoint the packed hall who had gathered to listen to him. He was able to engage with the audience using his excellent sense of humor and peppered his talk with lot of anecdotes from his experience as Systems Analyst in Engineers India Limited in the early 70’s till date as Director of the prestigious IIITB.

He cited several sources when he said that the Digital age with its market disruptions will make many jobs disappear. About how Robots will freely move around and bring about the end of the human race. He quoted:

Scientist – Stephen Hawking on BBC “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” (Dec 2, 2014)

Business leaders – Elon Musk ‘Mark my words — A.I. is far more dangerous than nukes’ (Mar 13, 2018);

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Elon Musk’s doomsday AI predictions are ‘pretty irresponsible’

Popular leaders – PM Modi wants to make AI work for India.

Saying that, he asked the audience a pertinent question. ‘What can we project managers look for in this dynamic digital age and how can PMs gear up and prepare for these changes?” He took up each disruption one by one and explained his ideas in this age of phenomenal digital growth areas.

Deep Blue and Watson in 2011 defeated legendary Chess champions. A tensor processing unit (TPU) is an AI accelerator application that is 15x to 30x faster than GPUs and CPUs. With these jaw-dropping new capabilities we are now able to have innovations like Google assistant booking appointments, Companies like Foxconn have replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots in a salon, several hospitals in India have been using the Da Vinci platform for minimally invasive surgery available today in India today

Prof. Sadagopan continued his talk explaining the differences between the industrial revolution of the past and the one that’s causing current disruption.

Open space table

He said that the digital Age should not be looked at like a threat but as an opportunity. He talked about how computerization was feared saying it would lead to job losses but look at the opportunities that computerization resulted in. Newer technologies and automation including AI are only bound to create far more jobs. He talked about the phenomenal growth stories in India like TCS market capitalisation which is higher than IBM. He also mentioned how the OYO market capitalisation was reportedly USD10 billion.

Project Management has evolved over years from the Gantt Chart to CPM to PERT to PMBOK. Civil society has started to appreciate the role of project manager.

PM Open space pic

But What does all these new technologies mean to Project Managers. It simply means that the Project manager needs to change with the game and develop the kind of skills that will continue to make them a valued profession. Some of the changes he foresaw that PMs may need to prepare for and embrace are

  • With the arrival of digital goods and services, project managers have to work in the industry where marginal cost is relatively zero. Digital data is the traditional goods with huge pressures on maintaining project scope and cost
  • Weekly, monthly project review meetings could make way for near real-time monitoring possibilities and requirements
  • Resource allocation was the key to project management’s success and Resource rescheduling was a big deal. All this could change with AI! Machinelearning based resource re-scheduling, ML uses external influencing factors and is much better at resource scheduling
  • As information begins to become available to everyone, machines can now perform the action based on shared information.

Your role as Project Manager will be to constantly monitor, assess, look for biases, correct and come up with new strategies for the next version of software as project managers. PMs will have to manage time more smartly and maybe have more time in hand as a result!

And when his session was over, he impressed everyone with how he treats people. Curious to know more? Join the PM Open Space chatter group where you can read about these insights and more.

It’s time you became a more connected PM. It will take you one step closer to becoming a future ready PM.  

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