Strategic Role of Project Management Elevated as Organizations Manage Disruptive Technologies

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Survey reveals Cloud, IOT and AI are driving the biggest impact and providing innovative organizations with a competitive advantage

According to a new in-depth report by Project Management Institute (PMI), 91 percent of organizations are feeling the impact of disruptive technologies and those that are not currently experiencing the impact are preparing for disruptive technologies to change their business over the next five years. From cloud and AI to IOT and blockchain, digital disruption is changing the way work is done, providing an opportunity for innovative organizations to drive a competitive advantage.

As organizations continue to face increased disruption, effective project management practices are more valuable than ever. Leading organizations are elevating the role of project professionals to take advantage of disruption. The 2018 Pulse of the Profession®, In-Depth Report: Next Practices: Maximizing the Benefits of Disruptive Technologies on Projects, based on a global survey conducted by PMI, identified two key performance levels among responding organizations – innovators and laggards.

  • Innovator organizations are high-performing with a mature digital transformation strategy, risk tolerant, have adopted or committed to change and consider disruptive technologies to be a high organizational priority.
  • By contrast, laggards have an immature digital transformation strategy (or none at all), are risk averse, and consider disruptive technologies to be a low organizational priority.

“From Uber to Airbnb, disruption has become part of the norm in business and we know that successful organizations are those that can rapidly adapt to new opportunities and challenges,” said Mark A. Langley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Project Management Institute. “As disruptive technology impacts the work we do, project managers become more valuable than ever as advocates and agents of change with the power to significantly impact the bottom line.”

Disruptive Technologies Impact Project Management Success

Disruptive technologies are displacing established technologies and shaking up the global marketplace. These technologies include tools or resources employed in production, such as 3D printing, or the finished product or service itself, such as a self-driving vehicle. According to the survey, 83 percent of innovators indicate the adoption of disruptive technologies has had significant results in meeting or exceeding business objectives.

Among a list of thirteen disruptive technologies, cloud solutions, Internet of Things (IOT) and artificial intelligence rose to the top as the most impactful for gaining a competitive advantage on delivering against strategy.

  • Cloud Solutions: 84 percent of innovators say the cloud is giving their organization a competitive advantage, compared to 57 percent of laggards. For project management, the cloud offers whole new levels of collaboration and information access and frees up schedules so professionals can lend expertise to projects and customer issues.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): 62 percent of innovators say IoT is giving their organization a competitive advantage, compared to 26 percent of laggards. IoT offers project managers constant connectivity and increased data efficiency enabling more accurate data-driven decision making.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): 60 percent of innovators say AI is giving their organization a competitive advantage, compared to 22 percent of laggards. AI enables faster and more reliable decision-making based on large amounts of stored information, can help reduce human error and biases and drives project management efficiencies to help project professionals devote more time to ensuring that projects achieve organizational goals.

The other disruptive technologies deemed impactful by survey respondents include 5G mobile Internet, voice-driven software, building information modeling (BIM), advanced robotics, 3D printing, blockchain, autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, large-scale energy storage, gene sequencing and genomics.

Innovators Provide a Roadmap for Embracing Disruptive Technologies

Organizations need to understand and manage the impact of disruptive technologies and rely on proven project management practices to survive and thrive during these times of change. Those that invest in project management experience better project outcomes. In fact, for innovators that embrace project excellence, 71 percent meet the original goals or business intent of their projects, compared to only 60% of laggards.

These organizations provide a roadmap for others to achieve success as they adopt disruptive technologies. Innovators focus on using disruptive technologies to their benefit, driving agility and collaboration, and believe that the project professional should be the advocate and driver for adoption. According to the survey, innovators use disruptive technologies to enhance the role of project management with their organizations:

  • Encourage greater efficiency and automation (75% versus 53% of laggards)
  • Increase productivity (69% versus 59% of laggards)
  • Promote the development of better products and services (61% versus 45% of laggards)
  • Automate mundane tasks to free time for higher level work (59% versus 47% of laggards)
  • Develop more strategic roles and leadership skills (57% versus 35% of laggards)
  • Build stronger connections among team members (44% versus 34% of laggards)

Managing in Times of Disruption

The role of the project manager has expanded to one of a strategic advisor, innovator, communicator, big thinker, and versatile manager. Project managers are becoming even more valued as disruptive technology frees them from mundane routines, providing them more opportunity to innovate.

Organizations look to their project managers to help take advantage of disruption – not just react to it – making effective project management practices more valuable than ever. Innovator organizations prioritize three critical roles for the project manager working with disruptive technologies:

  • Advocate for the technology (56% versus 41% of laggards)
  • Supervisor for course correction (42% versus 31% of laggards)
  • Authority on disruptive technology (32% versus 21% of laggards)

Those that harness technology to change the way they operate and the way they manage projects are working in new ways. These “next practices” combine approaches and technologies, such as DevOps, human/user-centered design, cloud computing, the IoT, and AI help organizations manage digital disruption and thrive.

Changing the Future of Work

As the profession of project management continues to change, PMI, like many other organizations, is currently undergoing its own transformation to ensure that it meets the evolving needs of project professionals.As PMI marks its 50th anniversary year next year, its transformation efforts will ensure that the association stays ahead of trends in the marketplace and serves its customers and the entire project management community even better.

Addressing the topic of digital disruption, Murat Bicak, Senior Vice President, Strategy for Project Management Institute (PMI) will join representatives from the European Commission, Google, and Tata Consultancy Services at the European Business Summit to discuss the path ahead to upgrade the skills of the European workforce to adapt for the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The session, Artificial Intelligence: How will it change the future of work? will take place on May 24 from 9:00 AM-10:45 AM.

About the PMI Pulse of the Profession® Survey

2018 Pulse of the Profession®, In-Depth Report: Next Practices: Maximizing the Benefits of Disruptive Technologies on Projects was conducted online in February-March 2018. The report highlights feedback and insights from 1,730 project management professionals, from a range of industries, including information technology, financial services, manufacturing, government, energy, healthcare, construction, and telecom around the globe.In-depth interviews were also conducted with seven PMO directors and seven C-suite executives

The full Pulse of the Profession® In-depth Report can be viewed at

About Project Management Institute (PMI)

PMI is the leading authority in project management, committed to advancing the project management profession to positively impact project success. We empower professionals to excel in project management practices through our growing global community, knowledge sharing, and best-in-class certifications—driving positive change in organizations and communities. Since 1969, our unwavering mission has been to advocate for the profession by offering life-long learning and connections to sharpen high-demand skills. Today, PMI provides professionals at every stage of their career journey with the globally recognized standards, online courses, thought leadership, events, and tools they need to succeed. With 300 chapters around the world, PMI members can network, find mentors, access career opportunities, and learn from peers, working together to drive greater impact.

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Media Contact:

MaryKate Dougherty

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