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PMI identifies six AI technologies which impact project professionals

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019
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The Project Management Institute (PMI) has released its 2019 Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: AI Innovators: Cracking the Code on Project Performance.

The report provides an in-depth look at how artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting organisations and project management profession. Findings reveal that AI disruption is happening on a large scale: 81 percent  respondents report their organisation is being impacted by AI technologies; 37 percent say adopting AI technologies is a high priority for their organisation; and project professionals say they expect the proportion of projects they manage using AI will jump from 23 to 37 percent over the next three years.

These insights from a survey of 551 global project management practitioners show that the presence of AI technologies will continue to grow, requiring shifts in how projects are managed and how organisations implement strategy.

The report identifies six AI technologies that are impacting organisations globally. The three AI technologies currently impacting the greatest number of organisations are:


1. Knowledge-based systems: Understands context of the data being processed, helping support human learning and decision making.
2. Machine learning: Analyses data to build models by detecting patterns, yielding improved decision-making with minimal human intervention.
3. Decision management: Creates an intelligent process or sets up processes based on rules and logic to automate decision making.

Over the next three years, project professionals expect the impact of these AI technologies to grow:

1. Expert systems: Emulates and mimics human intelligence, skills or behavior in a particular field, topic or skill.
2. Deep learning: Builds, trains and tests neural networks that predict outcomes and/or classify unstructured data based on probabilities.
3. Robotic process automation: Mimics and automates human tasks to support corporate processes.

In a recent Pulse of the Profession report, PMI called for organisations to bolster their Project Management Technology Quotient (PMTQ), which is a way of evaluating an organisation’s ability to manage and integrate technology based on the needs of the organisation or the project at hand. As organisations increasingly adopt AI technologies, having a strong PMTQ will be essential.

In fact, research by Accenture finds that most visionary organisations apply five key principles to their AI investments. Called the MELDS principles, they call on organisations to:

1. Encourage the right Mindset
2. Promote Experimentation
3. Support actively involved Leadership
4. Incorporate Data into strategy
5. Cultivate new Skills

Organisations who embrace these five principles are called AI Innovators and are more likely than organisations that don’t embrace any of the principles (AI Laggards) to establish an organisational infrastructure that leads to project success. According to Pulse data, there is a distinct payoff for organisations leading the way with AI. AI Innovators outperform AI Laggards on several key project metrics:

1. Better on-time delivery: AI Innovators report they delivered 61 percent of their projects on time, versus 47 percent for AI Laggards.
2. Superior benefits realisation: AI Innovators report 69 percent of their projects realised 95 percent or more of their business benefits, compared to 53 percent of projects for AI Laggards.
3. Higher ROI: AI Innovators report 64 percent of their projects met or exceeded their original ROI estimates, versus 52 percent of projects for AI Laggards.

Successful implementation of AI technology requires organisations to shift their priorities. Not only is it important to look at PMTQ as a measure of preparedness, but also how well an organisation adheres to the MELDS principles. This will be especially important as more and more AI technologies are integrated into operations in coming years.

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