(This post has been written with and is co-authored by Jonathan de Lieme)
Why you need to start exploring AI, right now
Even though OpenAI’s ChatGPT was only released in November of 2022, its impact on general availability and knowledge on generative AI has been mind blowing.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the workplace. Not being widely used until a few weeks (!) ago, numerous tools are available and popping up instantly, while the underlying technology progresses at astounding rates, propelled by the OpenAI/Microsoft vs. Google rivalry. We agree with experts who are, at this stage, expecting nothing less but an “industrial revolution” scale impact on how we organise work – and maybe society – in the future.
AI can be used to automate routine tasks, enhance decision-making processes, and streamline workflows. Despite its potential benefits, many people are hesitant to adopt AI tools at work out of fear of making themselves superfluous, ultimately seeing their jobs being replaced by AI — we argue that AI, on the contrary, will increase peoples productivity and workplace satisfaction, rather than replace them.
Not as new a topic as many believe
According to a global survey by McKinsey QuantumBlack from as far back as 2021, the adoption of AI had already increased in 2020, with more companies using AI to improve their operations and decision-making.
In the report “Customer Success: The Next Frontier of AI” by Bain, it was highlighted that AI is becoming increasingly important in the field of customer success. The report explains how AI can help companies improve their customer service by providing personalised recommendations and insights into customer behavior. It also discusses the potential benefits of using AI in customer success, such as increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Accenture, in their report “responsible AI” emphasised the importance of implementing ethical guidelines and governance structures to ensure the responsible use of AI. The report highlights the potential risks of using AI and the need to address issues such as bias, transparency, and privacy.
Deloitte’s “Fueling the AI Transformation” discussed the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to help businesses meet the challenges of the current economy and society. The authors emphasise the need for businesses to focus on realising the value and potential of AI, rather than just adopting it for efficiency. The article outlines four key actions that businesses can take to harness AI’s potential: investing in culture and leadership, transforming operations, orchestrating tech and talent, and selecting high-value use cases.
Consequences for the rest of us
Sure, Small and medium-sized enterprises typically do not have the same level of resources or talent as the customers of these big consulting companies, but the shift from specialised AI models in the past to the new generation of AI Models that process natural language, has made it far easier to leverage the potential of AI:
- Leverage existing tools and technologies: Rather than investing in building custom AI solutions from scratch, small and medium-sized companies can leverage existing AI tools and technologies.
- Develop an understanding of your business objectives: Most companies have different pain points than large global enterprises, and should thereby identify their own areas where AI could provide value.
- Invest in talent development: Especially small and medium-sized companies should invest in developing their employees’ skills and knowledge in AI. This can include providing access to training and education programs, as hiring new employees with AI expertise will be a challenge for these companies in a tightening labor market.
Low hanging fruits: A playful start with AI in the workplace
Proofreading with DeepL Write or Notion’s AI
DeepL’s Write Beta, but also Notions AI allow employees to write a text as well as they can, and then have it pre-corrected for spelling and grammar, as well as being provided with suggestions on how to rephrase. While this is not fool-proof, it gives companies the opportunity to re-organise writing duties, with the most linguistically proficient employees being able to concentrate on lectoring and fine-tuning pre-written content.For experimenting with AI, its actually quite fun to do a “type as fast as you can’t” challenge, and have your mess of typos and pseudo-words corrected by the AI!
Workshops with ChatGPT: Another Perspective in the Room
- Idea Generation:
Using ChatGPT to generate new ideas based on prompts or questions related to the workshop topic can be an effective way to spark creativity among team members, especially when teams are small. For example, if the workshop is about product development, you can ask ChatGPT to generate new product ideas based on customer feedback or market trends. Since ChatGPT is not aware of the team’s culture, norms, values, or existing ideas and knowledge, it may suggest unconventional, humorous or even preposterous ideas. However, this can be an advantage in encouraging the team to think outside the box and explore new possibilities.
During the workshop, use ChatGPT to facilitate Q&A sessions. Participants can submit questions to ChatGPT, which will generate answers based on its knowledge of the topic. This can help ensure that all team members have a common understanding of the topic and can contribute to the discussion, while, at the same time, expose the limitations of the AI to the group & help them realise that while it can be helpful, it still requires human input and assistance to function effectively. This scenario will becoming even more interesting with the increasing availability of no-code tools to train AI on company specific data
- Advocatus Diavoli:
Use AI to act as the group’s “advocatus diavoli,” by asking it to explain why the team’s ideas are bad. This removes the burden from any one person in the room who might feel uncomfortable taking on that role. Depending on the social dynamics of the group, such a role might intimidate certain participants and discourage them from voicing their ideas, or it might allow higher-ranking individuals to avoid scrutiny. By using AI, the process can be more objective and less influenced by individual biases.
- Things to watch out for in the next months:
Both Google (Google Workspace) & Microsoft (365 Copilot) have announced embedding AI assistants in to their respective office suites in the near future, with both their products offering tools for online meetings & workshops. So go experimenting now, so you and your teams are comfortable and proficient at interacting with their AI assistants as these become part of more and more regular software.
Next steps: Leveraging the power of AI for more complex challenges
Once an organisation has playfully experienced how the power of AI can transform the way we work, we believe project management to be one, if not the field where it becomes possible to move beyond pre-trained generative AI, and leverage existing organisational knowledge and data even without resident experts: AI-powered project management tools can analyse historical data from past projects to predict more accurate project plans. This analysis will help determine the estimated duration of each task, the resources required, and the potential roadblocks that may arise during the project execution.
Project Management with AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be transforming the way we work and manage projects. AI-powered project management tools are more available in the market, and they offer a multitude of benefits to project managers and their teams. In this part, we will explore the advantages of using AI in project management and how it can improve project outcomes.
- Streamlined Project Planning
One of the key advantages of AI tools in project management is streamlined project planning. AI-powered project management tools will analyse historical data from past projects to predict more accurate project plans. This analysis will help determine the estimated duration of each task, the resources required, and the potential roadblocks that may arise during the project execution.
- Improved Risk Management
AI can also help improve risk management in project management. AI tools will analyse data and predict potential risks before they occur. For example, an AI-powered project management tool will be bale to analyse a project’s historical data and identify potential risks that may arise during the (next) project’s execution. This type of analysis will help project managers take preventive measures to mitigate potential risks.
- Increased Efficiency
AI-powered tools will boost the increase in efficiency by automating repetitive tasks. For example, AI will allow project managers to automate tasks such as data entry, progress tracking, and reporting. This automation will reduce the time and effort required to complete these tasks, allowing project managers to focus on more critical tasks that require human intervention.
- Enhanced Decision Making
AI will also be able to help us by providing enhanced decision-making tools for project management. These will analyse data and provide insights to support decision-making. One example could be that the AI-powered engines will analyse data on project progress and suggest changes to the project plan to improve outcomes and maintain on the critical path.
More effectiveness and time saving options – with a big caveat
AI-powered project management tools will offer even more effectiveness and time saving options. For example, AI will be able to analyse team member performance and suggest ways to improve productivity; it will be able to automate the process of scheduling meetings and sending reminders, saving project managers time and effort and help them focus on customer interaction.
At the same time, lawmakers in Europe are already planning regulation on AI with hefty fines attached, and labour laws in some states like Germany outright forbid surveillance on workers, with few exceptions. Hence, despite our enthusiasm about the possibilities, it remains imperative for companies to check AI tools they consider introducing for compliance with their local legal requirements.
But, the question for us will be less about what we can legally do, but rather where we and the people we work with see added value, and where technical possibilities collide with our ethics and values, and need to be hedged in.
Nonetheless, AI-powered project management tools can optimise workflows by identifying inefficiencies and suggesting improvements.
AI-Powered Software Solutions
There are several newer and more advanced AI-powered project management software solutions available in the market. Here are a few examples:
ClickUp – This project management tool uses AI to help automate tasks such as time tracking and resource allocation. One neat feature is alerts and the task toolbar. Task assignment is also managed innovatively.
Forecast – This AI-powered project management tool uses machine learning to help predict project timelines and resource needs. The focus of its AI-powered engine is to create insights for project teams and reduce time spent on repetitive operations, to empower the people behind the project.
Wrike – This project management tool uses AI to help automate tasks such as scheduling and workload balancing. Its focus is on the latter, by helping to organise tasks between team members and making sure there is a good allocation of resources based on availability. There is a clear allocation of space for navigation, tasks and subtasks for a clear project-based overview.
AI is already transforming the workplace. AI-powered tools will become increasingly used in the market, and managers need to embrace this technology to improve outcomes.
Still, it is important to note that while AI can be helpful in certain areas, it is – not yet – a silver bullet solution for all challenges. (Project) managers still need to have strong leadership skills and experience to effectively manage projects to train their tools on, and AI should be seen as a tool to support their work rather than a replacement for their expertise.
People and companies who embrace AI tools as “companions” at work early on not only give themselves a head start, but the chance to define the way they wish to utilise the technology. Especially for small and medium sized companies, now is still the time to get comfortable with AI tools by just experimenting with them, before the chasm between themselves and bigger or more agile competitors has widened too far.