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Digital Disruption and the Future of PPM

And just like that, six years flew by! Just kidding. I wrote a blurb for a team newsletter recently and thought I'd share it here.

PPM careers are entering a forced evolution: In 10 years, Gartner predicts traditional project management will be performed by artificial intelligence, smart machines and IoT - which sounds exciting unless traditional PM is what you do.

Within the IT industry, we refer to technology as having occurred in three “platforms” or eras: first, the emergence of mainframe computing in the 1950s, followed by client server, relational databases, local area networks and PCs beginning in the 80s, and a third era, beginning in the 2000s of cloud, mobile, social and big data technologies. (There’s no consensus yet on what defines “fourth platform” technology, but it’s likely to include artificial intelligence, grid, Internet of Things and other innovations TBD.)

As technology has evolved, our models of IT management and service delivery have shifted incrementally to suit those changes. But the digital transformation is upending traditional IT operating models as the buzz words of 20 years ago – agility, business disruption, and shifting paradigms – materialize. Frank Gens, SVP and Chief Analyst for leading IT analyst firm IDC, predicts that a full 50% of the global economy will be touched by digital technology within the next two years; and more applications and services will be deployed between 2018-2023 than in the previous five decades.

For PPM professionals, the speed of change is driving fundamental philosophical shifts, including sacrificing heralded components of traditional PM, like risk assessment and mitigation, in order to speed delivery and fast-track innovation. Likewise, digital disruption is driving PMOs to be increasingly product-centric to better manage the full lifecycle of a solution in close collaboration with the business. 

Perhaps most impactful to the future of PPM professionals is the rise of artificial intelligence. Gartner predicts that by 2030, traditional PMO functions such as data collection, project tracking, metrics and reporting will be performed by AI, smart machines and IoT. Lest we think machines will replace us entirely, Mbula Schoen, Gartner’s Senior Principal Analyst for Program and Portfolio Management adds, “The differentiating value of human beings will live in applying creativity, critical thinking, empathy and innovation to new outcomes.” The EPMO of the future will serve as a “strategic change management office” fostering collaboration between people and machines and driving technological transformation as organizational change agents.

I hope the classically trained PMPs in our midst don't find all of this too daunting. It's really an opportunity to position for job security as our global economy becomes increasingly digitized. As a good Scout would say: Be prepared.

If you’re interested in reading further about digital disruption, here are a few recommendations: