4 Things Science Fiction Predicted about Modern Project Management
Flying cars, teleportation and the holodeck.
Science fiction has predicted an array of amazing technologies that have yet to become reality. However, we are getting close on the flying cars.
You might not know, however, that some of the technology predicted by sci-fi decades ago is now available and integral to modern project management.
Science fiction often sees technological breakthroughs lead to disaster. Every story needs conflict.
Technology is making progress every year and, for the most part, they are making life and work easier, faster, and ultimately, cheaper. Technology is a project manager’s best friend (well technology and good people).
I’ll be discussing the four technologies below and how they are transforming modern project management. And what future applications they could have.
Four sci-fi predictions on modern project management
1. Artificial intelligence
HAL, get cool!
It has not always been easy to portray artificial intelligence in science fiction, from HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey to Skynet in Terminator.
The story goes that humans make their AI intelligent enough to become self-aware and sentient. The AI then decides humans are a threat to their well-being and takes the necessary actions (annihilation). Our soft flesh and emotions are often no match for its supercomputer intellect and sharp metal parts.
(To be fair though, science fiction has also depicted AI in a positive or at least more benevolent light; think R2-D2 or Rosie the Robot.
The good news is that AI isn’t out to get you. It is, however, a useful tool in many project management applications. The connection between AI, project management, and AI is not a new development.
W.N. W.N. Hosley published an article titled “The Application of Artificial Intelligence Software to Project Management.” It was written more than 30 years ago.
Many project management software packages now include features like AI-assisted budgeting, scheduling, and risk management.
Software that teaches you how it works as you use it via integrated tutorials or chatbots that allow users to interface with their project management software is another example.
What is the future? Imagine talking to your project management apps instead if you’re typing. It’s the same way that you ask Siri or Alexa for the weather or news. “How’s our budget looking Pam?” or “Show us the latest project timeline Pam.” Gartner predicts that by 2020, “the average person will have more conversations using bots than their spouse.”
AI will be able to analyze large data sets and make recommendations based upon that analysis. This will help businesses as more data becomes available and it becomes difficult to use traditional methods. Imagine a future in which you hire the right person based on their culture and soft skills and then your AI assigns them the ideal role within your company based on their experience and aptitude.
But don’t get carried away. While voice assistants and algorithms will continue to be useful in the near future for project managers, we are still far from AI drone assistants or automatons in the workplace. Gartner’s Artificial Intelligence Primer 2018 (full report for Gartner clients) Whit Andrews and Tom Austin wrote: “The transformative power of AI is shackled in extravagant hype, which drives