It’s impossible to ignore the exponential changes that have occurred since the advent of global interconnectivity. Humans and technology have formed a symbiotic relationship that’s driving unprecedented levels of change, with technology such as artificial intelligence continuing to drive digital transformation even faster.

Advanced technological development has been the catalyst for the fourth industrial revolution, which is changing how the project management profession operates and is disrupting pretty much every corner of the business world. Keep reading to find out what the fourth industrial revolution is and discover how project teams can leverage this technological revolution to improve decision-making and streamline operations.

What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The fourth industrial revolution is best described as the increasing efficiency of business as a result of the recent digital revolution. While technologies have the ability to carry out increasingly complex tasks and the potential to replace jobs, the impossibly fast-growing sector is providing unparalleled opportunities for completely new job types.

4IR Word CloudWhat’s more, digital transformation lets technology carry out more complex tasks than ever before, so operators can focus on developing the human workforce’s comparative strengths. Behavioral skills, leadership skills, creativity and other job tasks that require soft skills such as emotional intelligence are where people excel.

There’s no denying that a digital transformation project will hugely impact jobs, but it offers a world of new possibilities to project managers and other decision-makers. By changing organizational structures and offloading routine tasks to technology, your workforce is free to strategize and find creative ways to increase profits. The digital revolution will have a profound impact on employees, necessitating that they continually develop new skills to keep up with the job market.

What Is the Project Management Profession?

Project management is an approach that organizations use to apply and manage processes, knowledge, skills and experience to drive project success. A project manager takes ownership of a specific objective and manages employees and other decision-makers to ensure timely and effective project delivery.

The next generation of project management is upon us alongside the fourth industrial revolution as traditional project management practices are quickly becoming obsolete. In today’s digital-led world, project professionals need to embrace new technologies and possess an in-depth understanding of the impact technology is having on the project profession.

New Technologies Driving Major Changes

Digital transformation is changing the world and the way people do business at an unprecedented rate. For effective project management to continue, project managers must grasp the importance of data collection and learn how to use complex data sets for effective decision-making.

It’s also vital that you embrace new technology such as artificial intelligence, cyber-physical systems, machine learning, cloud computing and other technologies. Below is a brief outline of some key systems that are integral to the fourth industrial revolution:

  • Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence is a digital phenomenon that gives computers the ability to make complex decisions based on large-scale data collection. It has the ability to make recommendations, draw conclusions, process information and recognize patterns.
  • Big data: A lot of people in the business world are calling big data the new oil and gas. Gathering information about what people buy, why they buy it, where they buy it from and why they stop buying from certain vendors is part of the reasons change is happening at such a fast rate. Big data is the fuel that’s driving digital transformation and helping companies improve customer experience and ultimately, their bottom line.
  • Cloud computing: The cloud has eradicated the need for a business to have a server room to host its computers. This has facilitated remote work and given a platform to millions of entrepreneurs around the world who can now afford to start a business from home with far less overhead than previously required.
  • Improved computing for faster organizational processes: Faster computers mean you and your teams can get work finished faster than ever. Quantum technologies are in development to make computers even more powerful, allowing business to create huge data sets faster than ever.
  • Blockchain: Some people fear job loss as a result of digital transformation, but blockchain is a solid example of a technology that’s necessitated completely new job types. As opposed to replacing jobs, technology is disrupting business models and requiring the workforce to acquire new skills at a faster rate.
  • Robotics: Robotics can substantially improve project performance as routine tasks are increasingly automated. Health and safety and manufacturing are two areas where robotics are already making huge waves and improving project management processes.

Strategies to Help Project Managers Embrace 4IR

As a project manager, you’re tasked with the ever-changing job of managing digital transformation alongside project management. When done correctly, technology can maximize the well-being of your workforce, improve agile teams and help you implement improved organizational processes and procedures.

Below are some of the ways you can embrace 4IR as a project professional.

Evolve Leadership Skills

Making the most of 4IR for project managers involves keeping an open mindset and understanding that digital transformation relates to more than just computer power. As new technologies improve customer experience, consumer demands are developing and new expectations must be met.

Project managers’ soft skills are more important than ever, but social skills are also going to become increasingly important throughout the workforce. Adaptability, flexibility and enabling creativity are essential to move forward in a digital-led marketplace.

Take Advantage of Automation

Instead of fearing automation because of its potential impact on the workforce, devise strategies to get more out of project teams beyond menial tasks. With computers taking care of more boring and routine tasks, your team is free to develop their passions and skills, which will ultimately add value to the organization. Cross-functional and multiskilled teams are going to become the norm, and leadership and project management roles are more likely to overlap in future.

IT Supporting Project Management in Industry 4.0

Now that you understand the urgency of adapting your business to the upcoming changes as a result of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s time to implement a strategy. Get in touch with EIRE Systems today to find out how we can help you.