When we think of how automation will impact the future of work, we often default to thinking about the impact on manual labor jobs. Images of sophisticated machines in modern factories, making things like automobiles, toys, or cell phones are typically the first to pop into our heads. Some may even notice how customer service and retail jobs are beginning to be impacted en masse by automation - many cashiers are being replaced by self-service kiosks and most consumer complaints are handled by automated websites or phone services.
However, AI’s economic “grim reaper” will not be sparing jobs in management, either. Research from Gartner suggests that nearly 80% of project management tasks will be done by Artificial Intelligence by 2030. Studies from the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Atlassian found similar results, with both showing that AI will impact over 4 out of 5 project managers.
For career project management professionals, this has the potential to either be a daily lifesaver or a job killer. For PMs who actively incorporate and leverage AI for their teams, the new technology will be an unprecedented boon to productivity. This will liberate them to transition into a new type of project manager: one who is more focused on the human aspects of their teams, with a strong emphasis on soft skills.
And for those PMs who don’t adjust? They will find themselves in the unemployment line with the cashiers and factory workers who all realize the same thing: robots can do our job faster, better, and cheaper.
And it won’t just be the managers who need to adjust – team members who are used to working under a traditional PM need to understand that your future boss is going to be a robot. This might conjure images of malevolent AIs like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyessey, or the Ship AI from Disney’s WALL-E. As terrifying as that might be, the reality is that a robo-boss is more likely going to manifest as automatic email reminders and task decisions.
Regardless, all industries need to brace themselves for the change. For professionals, those who can stay ahead of the technology and grow their soft-skills will continue to find roles in the future economy.