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While the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) was already underway, Covid-19 dramatically accelerated its use and adoption in workplaces globally. Whether AI turns out to be a tool for learning and human advancement, fostering broader economic access and inclusion, or a technology that replaces and excludes them, is up to us.
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2022 Global Megatrends report identifies six thought-provoking trends about how projects — and the organizations that deliver them — can be understood, managed, funded, and executed in the future world of work.
Looking at the impacts of digital disruption, the climate crisis, demographic and economic shifts, labor shortages, and civil, civic and egalitarian movements, a clear picture emerges in which “disruptive technologies, including including AI, present humans with either a threat or an opportunity to build a better, more inclusive and efficient global work environment,” said George Asamani, Business Development Manager, Africa, PMI.
Following the release of the Megatrends report, PMI gathered insights from thought leaders and partner organizations observing the impact of these trends on real-world workplaces, project managers, and people around the world.
McKinsey, for example, reports that following the Covid-19 pandemic, the pace at which companies introduced digital products and services increased by six years in North America, seven years in Europe and more than ten years in Asia-Pacific. In Africa where only half the population uses the internet and less than a quarter shop online, Covid-19 is expected to increase the number of mobile internet users by 100 million over the next three years. By 2025, Africa is expected to have 475 million digitally active citizens
The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the expansion of digital technologies, especially tools that enable online collaboration and remote working. Covid-19 has also seen a concerted effort across the world to introduce technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things and AI to improve customer experience, increase employee efficiency and improve business results. projects.
Significantly, PMI’s own Pulse of the Profession report on maximizing the benefits of disruptive technologies recorded that a large majority of high-performing organizations “indicate that the adoption of disruptive technologies, including Al, has them in actually helped them meet or exceed their business goals,” observes Asamani. .
Although organizations are expected to continue investing in AI to augment skills such as decision making, risk management, data analysis and knowledge management, “if and when AI proves capable of replacing human-like intelligence, it is the subject of much debate and speculation.” .”
In November 2021, Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, joined by former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and MIT computer scientist Daniel Huttenlocher, suggested that humans should not seek to recover from it. to AI, nor to resist it. Instead, humans should focus on “shaping AI with human values, including human dignity and moral agency.”
From a project management perspective, meaningful application of AI requires organizations to invest at a minimum in acquiring or training IT and data specialists. However, it’s important to note that organizations need to develop a “clear AI strategy that will enable this technology to truly transform the business, reshaping it differently — and in a human way,” Asamani says.
According to Ade McCormack, who helps organizations around the world transform for the digital age, technology is not enough if the business model is no longer fit for purpose. Leaders cannot expect to simply “sprinkle your old business model with the latest technology. We must move beyond the industrial age, process-driven factory model, to thrive in this increasingly disruptive era.
Critically, as organizations turn to AI, they need to focus on managing the human-AI interface in a way that augments human capabilities, allowing more humans to participate. to the global economy,” says Asamani.
Thus, protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, which is the raw material that fuels the expansion of disruptive technologies like AI, “is essential to maintaining human trust in AI by as a manageable tool.
In this sense, as with all human tools developed to date, the way we use technology in general and AI in particular will have to be actively shaped by ourselves. It is “our choice whether AI replaces and excludes humans – or becomes a powerful tool to augment individual human capabilities and deepen collective global economic inclusion.
“The Global Megatrends report highlights the need for fundamental change in the way we live, work and play. The future, an era without normality for project managers, requires a new type of intelligence to deal with this change and new skills. Improving digital intelligence skills is a good place to start,” concludes Asamani.