Will AI lead project managers to the unemployment line?

​Project managers may fear that AI will replace their jobs—-when in fact it just might improve them.

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Thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) may conjure up images of robots taking over our daily roles at home and work, but what does it really mean to our overall employment prospects, especially for project managers (PM)?

Gartner recently reported that they believe by 2030, "80 percent of the work of today's project management (PM) discipline will be eliminated as artificial intelligence (AI) takes on traditional PM functions such as data collection, tracking and reporting."

If this comes to fruition how and where does that leave all of the skilled and trained Project Management Professionals (PMPs)?

SEE: Artificial intelligence: Trends, obstacles, and potential wins (Tech Pro Research)

How will AI impact the role of the project manager?

AI may not be the monster that puts all project managers out to pasture. In fact, it may be the technology that facilitates our improved service delivery and performance as project management professionals. The key lies in how and where AI is leveraged.

Gartner says that AI can positively impact data collection, analysis, and reporting by improving task outcomes through the ability to more rapidly analyze data than we can as humans. This new role of AI in project performance could spell out the need for additional team members who can "manage the demands of AI and smart machines," according to Gartner.

AI isn't expected to replace project managers but rather improve their effectiveness through the use of technology like chatbots, thus taking out more time and resources previously used to query and gather data. Artificial intelligence or machine learning (ML) and automated processes are also expected to decrease human error, which will further reduce risks and improve overall outcomes.

SEE: Artificial intelligence: A business leader's guide (TechRepublic download)

Where does that leave project managers?

Instead of focusing on gathering data, reporting status updates, submitting progress reports, and conducting day-to-day maintenance-related tasks, project managers will perform higher-level services. AI frees up time for project, program, and portfolio managers to focus on strategic-level goals and planning.

So, although AI may initially appear to be a threat to job security, it may instead increase the value that project management professionals can bring to the table; further solidifying the significance of this much-needed role in helping companies achieve long-term objectives successfully.

While many of the daily tasks project managers perform can be automated through the use of AI, the true value behind Project Management Professionals lies in their ability to effectively mentor, guide, and communicate with other stakeholders. These are the higher level skills where human interaction, sound and flexible judgment, empathy, and connection to teams and stakeholders need a living breathing person in order to be truly effective.

AI can serve as a mechanism to improve the effectiveness of a project manager, and it shouldn't be assumed that the role of the project manager will be replaced in entirety. If you're a project manager and looking for ways to provide more value for stakeholders, AI may offer the needed support and automation to allow you to focus on providing better team guidance and leadership. Don't let fear of replacement or job security hold you back from leveraging AI to become a better leader.

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