Report details six key global takeaways, including challenges and opportunities, and what they mean for project leaders and the world
To truly deliver value to their organizations and society as a whole, project leaders need insight on the future of major business, technological, economic and geopolitical trends. To help project leaders achieve this, Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading association for the project, program and portfolio management profession, released its latest Signposts Report to the public. The report explores key takeaways on global, long-term trends across a range of issue areas and assesses how these complexities are impacting the world.
PMI’s Strategy and Growth team has been developing the Signpost report annually to help discern where the world is moving and how industry project leaders can prepare for the future, but historically kept the report an internal resource. Given this time of profound global change, PMI is making these insights public for the first time. This new public-facing report identifies and explores six key takeaways from the 11 over-arching Signposts so that project leaders have the information they need to turn ideas into reality.
“Our world is going through a tremendous amount of change, which will inevitably have an effect on the work of project leaders, as well as our everyday life,” said Sunil Prashara, President and CEO of Project Management Institute. “Project leaders must have a deep understanding of the trends shaping the world. While these trends create challenges for project leaders, they also create opportunities for project managers to foster solutions and truly deliver value to their organizations and society alike.”
The report, which draws on trend research, as well as interviews with project professionals, news reports and industry data, includes the following insights:
The next generation of project professionals will derive from Africa and most of the developing world: The highest proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds are found in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South and Central America, making the region ripe with career opportunities for young project professionals looking to play a role in upgrading their respective regions’ transportation, water management and energy infrastructure. But while young talent might be eager, they’re also inexperienced—and will need guidance in navigating a complex project landscape.
Project managers can play a pivotal role in avoiding the global risks and threats associated with climate change: To balance economic development with environmental sustainability, project leaders need to start thinking differently. As the face of the planet is reshaped, project professionals will find themselves leading projects in water management, environmental sustainability, renewable energy and more. Reimagining how communities exist will help preserve quality of life in many regions, and project leaders are positioned to play a pivotal role in making that preservation happen.
The rapid rise of AI will reward those with strong technical and people skills: Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to usher in an era of innovation that will improve humanity in ways we can’t even begin to fathom. The responsibility rests with project leaders to help make the most of the technology, while mitigating the risks to society. Project professionals already manage 23 percent of initiatives using AI and expect that will jump to 37 percent over the next three years, according to PMI’s AI Innovators: Cracking the Code on Project Performance.
Rampant protectionism is threatening globalization; however many international project teams may move through unscathed: While the business world has long been defined by its massive global scale, the sheer scope of globalization took an economic toll on many communities, leading to a wave of increasingly protectionist—and even discriminatory—trade, immigration and work policies. Isolationism places further stress on efficient planning and execution of projects for multinational, multiethnic and geographically distributed teams. Project leaders excel when collaborating across time zones, no matter the geopolitical tensions—making them a great case study in the power of globalization.
Project leaders will be tasked with closing the gap between global infrastructure needs and investment: As urban population centers swell, climate change intensifies and emerging economies mature, demand for water, roads, airports, ports, electrical grids and communication networks also increases. There’s a bit of history to overcome here, with infrastructure megaprojects infamously prone to cost overruns and delays. While many teams are turning to technology to depart from this trend, project leaders will still need good, old-fashioned people skills to create stronger societal consensus.
Cybersecurity requires transformation in not only technology, but also culture: Cybersecurity attacks are varied, from the theft of an individual’s banking password to the full-on infiltration of increasingly tech-driven pieces of critical physical infrastructure, such as a power grid or a public transit system. With such complex technologies, project leaders must forge ties across organizations while seeking out innovation. This means project professionals will need not only technical prowess, but stellar leadership and stakeholder engagement skills, too.
As a new decade ushers in a world full of complex issues, it’s clear we need to reimagine the nature of work and how it gets done. The demand for versatile and bold project talent—capable of embracing new ways of working, leading diverse teams, and exploring innovative solutions for delivering value—is likely to increase. By understanding the world’s transformation, project leaders will be better poised to seize the opportunities that lie ahead in The Project Economy, where organizations will deliver financial and societal value to stakeholders through successful completion of projects, delivery of products, and alignment to value streams.
Read the latest Signposts Report here.