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4(.0) Things for Project Mangers to Look out for in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Now is a time of exciting development in the project management industry. Because of rapid industry growth, there will be an estimated 41 million project management jobs by 2020. Late last year, the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 came into effect. This legislation pushes for efficiency in Federal projects. These advances come with a need for project teams to remain ahead of the technological curve.

The ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (also referred to as Industry 4.0) describes the latest advances in technology. The trend is that tech, society, the workplace and even the human body become more and more integrated. Here are 4 aspects of ‘Industry 4.0’ that project managers should consider, if not implement down the line.

1. Internet of Things (IOT) – IOT is the use of software and networks to connect “things” via the Internet. This includes household items, wearables and many other devices. As organizations start monetising this trend, will be necessary to evaluate its impact on future products. As TechRepublic’s Mary Shacklett points out, this technology is relatively infant. IOT projects will need longer timelines for production support and a failover model. Increased connectivity will do wonders for sharing data across project teams and with external stakeholders. That said, it will take some work to integrate it into daily operations seamlessly.

2. Big Data – Constellation Research estimates that by 2020, “60 per cent of the data that organisations consider to be mission-critical will live outside the four walls of the enterprise [.]” This data comes from the general public through web browsing, e-commerce and social media. It still needs refining into actionable resources for project teams. This is where analytics comes in. Cloud-based data management could someday predict the outcome of a project by using predetermined variants. Big data could bring a new level of accuracy and automation to project risk management.

3. Automation – It goes without saying that all projects come with a relative amount of busywork. A statistic that shows the need to automate this kind of work comes from a 2010 white paper from the Brother International Corporation: “searching for misplaced documents in a manual system [costs] U.S. companies up to $89 billion each year.” Automating these kinds of tasks will boost team morale, and enable them to focus more on driving the project forward.

4. Machine Learning – Machine learning entails the use of algorithms that enable machines to mimic human intelligence. So there is potential to predict, with the right information, project outcomes with near-total precision. The core tenet of machine learning is that devices get smarter over time. This could become ideal for driving improvement for Project Quality Management. Machine learning means digital assistants won’t come built-in with project management expertise. The possibilities come from feeding these models things like The PMBOK®  Guide and historical project data.

Two things must be emphasised:

  • Industry 4.0 is still somewhat theoretical. IOT, big data, automation and machine learning do exist and are in use. It's their potential that's in question. Machine-predicted project outcomes, automation and perfect connectivity is the best-case scenario.
  • Industry 4.0 is not about replacing project managers. It’s also not about giving project teams a free ride. It’s about identifying what tasks they can delegate machines. This leaves the human element to channel their experience and insight more productively. Ultimately, Industry 4.0 is about making projects better, by making them

For now, the best way to make projects better and smarter is with accredited training. You might not be able to feed The PMBOK® Guide into a digital assistant yet, but you can learn it yourself with our PMP e-learning course. Along with other popular courses like PRINCE2, you can access the material through our ILX Player app. No matter where big data takes us, you can study while disconnected from the internet. To find out more, feel free to reach us through our contact page.