The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Project Management

4IR – The 4th Industrial Revolution. This term refers to the technological, digital era that we are currently experiencing. It was first coined in 2016/2017 by Professor Klaus Schwab (Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum).
LinkedIn articles are rarer than they are without mentioning the impact technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation has or will have on the world.
There is a lot of fearmongering about how technology will replace jobs – predictions were that other ‘IRs’ would have a huge impact on jobs, but these predictions didn’t materialize. Referring to the previous IR, the first was steam-and-mechanical, the second was industrial, and then the third was IT.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released their Future of Jobs Report 2018, which actually predicts a net increase in employment in the 4IR. Phew! They are talking about moving from “automation” to “augmentation”.
“…An approach where businesses seek to use automation of certain job tasks to complement their human workforce’s comparative strengths …”
This means that automation can be used for routine tasks, which frees people to do more complicated tasks such as reasoning and decision-making. For the moment, humans can still outperform machines when it comes to their cognitive abilities.
Let’s not forget the WEF’s Future of Jobs 2016 report.
“65% of primary school children today will end up working in totally new job types that do not yet exist”
This is driven a lot in my opinion by the 4IR and the technologies we don’t yet know will be required. This is exciting for my primary school boy as it offers boundless (infinite?) opportunities. Opportunities are great for my primary school son, but less exciting for the future project management profession. How can it compete against technologies that haven’t been invented yet?! It’s also difficult for career advisors, I imagine!
In my previous article, “The Project Management Chameleon”, I mentioned the need to consider the skills of project managers and how this profession can attract future project managers.
After writing this article, I came across this report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), The Project Manager of the Future (2018): Developing digital-age management skills to thrive during disruptive times (2018). It featured this amazing image about the top six digital skills for project delivery (page 5).

Is there something you feel is missing?
Personally speaking, I believe there are two omissions.
Not change control skills, but change management skills – the people and behavioural skills that are associated with transformations
Agile skills include both project management and embedding a culture of agility across the enterprise.
I hope that the above will appeal to the next generation project professionals, including my 9-year old son (he certainly has an inventive mindset in the stuff that he makes up).
There is still hope! With the launch of “Projecting the Future”, the Association for Project Management (APM), the Association for Project Management (APM), is already thinking about the future profession. A Big Conversation About the Future of the Project Profession
The APM outlined six key questions for the profession’s future, a vision of how it might change, and questions they would like to share with us all. Viz:
What role should the project profession have in society and business over the next ten years?
What will the future look like for project management?
What skills and mindsets are required by project professionals in the near future?
How can we manage the drivers for change?
What role will APM play in the future?
Who else can help us make change happen?
I have submitted my views on the above questions. Here is my two-penneth. Do you agree/disagree?
What role should the project professional play in business?

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