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[ARTICLE & WATCH] The Emergence of AI: Job Killer or the Path to Levelling Up?

Guest publication from our partners Wrike.

Are humans and machines really in competition? Automation and AI are becoming more and more sophisticated, and some workers are (justifiably) concerned those same tools could take their jobs. As Harvard Business Review explains though, “The history of work — particularly since the Industrial Revolution — is the history of people outsourcing their labor to machines… AI-based machines are fast, more accurate, and consistently rational, but they aren’t intuitive, emotional, or culturally sensitive. And, it’s exactly these abilities that humans possess and which make us effective.”

There are two ways to look at it: Technology will either consume our jobs, or elevate our roles to the next level. We’re optimistic about the latter.

How to embrace new technologies

Be an early adopter

Automation can handle repetitive tasks, but the technology needs to know which tasks to automate and how to perform them. Someone needs to set up the automation before it can be useful. Being an early adopter and learning the technical skills to harness automation tools will allow you to maintain control over the process.

“Automation sounds like it reduces work, but the data to be automated has to come from somewhere,” says Bruce Garrod, Project Management Consultant at Solutions Management Inc. “Someone has to set everything up and make sure their time, the cost, the projected cost, and the estimated cost are all loaded properly.”

Wrike’s work collaboration platform features automation capabilities, including advanced custom workflows and dynamic request forms. These save workers from unnecessary repetitive tasks, but still require someone with expert knowledge of the project to set them up properly.

Take advantage of your newfound time

The goal of automation isn’t to take anyone’s jobs — it’s to give them more time to do the things they do best. Google famously encouraged their employees to spend 20% of their time working on creative projects, which led to the creation of innovative products like Gmail and Google Maps. Automation has the potential to free up teams to find ways to become even more valuable.

Automation allows teams “to get away from the activities that can be commoditized and focus their energy where they are needed most, like organizational change management,” says Laura Barnard, PMP, adding that “teams can spend more time being human and interacting with other human beings about things that make the biggest difference in getting to the desired impact.” 

Provide value where machines can’t

It may sound like machines are taking over, but they aren’t. Technology will play a valuable part in the future of work, but it can’t replace the intangibles a seasoned professional brings to the table.

“Tools are great, but tools don’t think,” Garrod says. “You can automate some functionality, but it’s people that do projects, not the tools. It’s the interaction between the project manager and the delivery team that gets stuff done, not automated emails telling someone to do something.”

Find ways to communicate the benefits of your team with top management regularly, or create dashboards to share your value visually. Wrike’s dashboard feature provides transparency across the entire organization so everyone can see how your team is performing.

What challenges do organizations face in the midst of Digital Transformation?

Embracing all of the changes that come with AI and the current digital transformation organizations are undergoing does not come without its challenges. These can include:

Lack of executive buy-in

To eliminate silos and achieve better results, consistent and clear communication is key. Keeping all your internal and external stakeholders and teams aligned and in the loop can go a long way in taking the company closer to its ultimate goals.

Inadequate usage of project management tools

Did you know that about 55% of project teams do not have access to real-time project KPIs? In fact, about 50% of team members spend a day or more generating project progress reports manually. With the sudden shift to remote working due to the pandemic, cohesive Agile teamwork faces its share of challenges. Set up your teams for success by using a centralized project management hub to store information, plan projects, visualize deadlines, and help your teams deliver results on time.

Struggles with effective resource management

Teams of all sizes agree that effective resource management is one of their biggest struggles. When you’re trying to maximize efficiency with the least resources, it’s essential to have clear visibility of capacity utilization and a precise understanding of the organizational goals.

Rapid pace of change

The digital revolution has transformed the workplace, including the fundamentals of resource management. Greater emphasis is being placed on measuring outcomes rather than deadlines, and teams are being held accountable for predefined goals in place of specific job tasks.

Mismatch in aligning team and organizational goals

No business likes to waste resources, energy, and precious time by operating without a proven strategy or action plan. Since every company faces diverse opportunities and challenges, it is vital to have a strategy that aligns with the organizational goals and desired results.

How to overcome common challenges

The traditional office functions and structure are changing. Still, the skills that seasoned professionals bring to the table always provide business value when harnessed correctly.

Savvy teams can stay ahead of the game by:

  • Understanding that the roles, functions, and structure may change dramatically in the upcoming years.
  • Looking beyond the project to understand the strategic business goals, making sure each project is providing value to the organization.
  • Continuing to communicate the benefits of your team to upper management, clearing the path for teams to move quickly toward their goals.
  • Adopting an Agile mindset to accommodate the increasing pace of change
  • Serving as a change management expert to help transition organizations and teams to new project management methodologies.
  • Embracing new technology and automation as powerful tools, not competition.

How can you learn more?

To navigate the complexities that come with the explosion of new technology and hybrid workforces brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies need to embrace an AI-enabled collaborative work management solution. It’s time to undergo another accelerated digital transformation for this new wave of hybrid work to actually work. 

To learn more about excelling in the future of work, check out this keynote session from the  Digital Transformation Conference 2021, “The Data Game: Using AI-Enabled Technology to Thrive.” In the presentation with Wrike’s Head of Marketing, Saranya Babu, you’ll learn: 

  • How to strengthen the relationship between AI and humans.
  • How AI will enable growth in a hybrid workforce.
  • Insights on how Wrike customers are using AI to maximize productivity.

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