On 10th August 2018, Mr Bishnoo Ananth, Ms. Monica Shrivastava and Mr. Mahesh Ghatke from VMware held an interactive session with the students of TAPMI on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are changing the scope of project management. Mr. Bishnoo Ananth is the Lead Portfolio Manager at VMware, with 16 years of experience in project management, client management and account management to name a few. Ms. Monica Shrivastava is also the Lead Portfolio Manager at VMware and has 15 years of experience in ERP, data warehousing, workforce management and optimisation related technologies.
Mr. Mahesh Ghatke started the session on a very light note. He is the Project Manager at VMware with an experience of more than 11 years in transition, project management, business analytics and service operations. He gave the audience an insight into the company and what they do. Founded in 1998, VMware is the pioneer in putting “out of the box thinking” into practice by shifting their focus from data centres, routers and multipliers to cloud infrastructure for data management. In association with Amazon Web Services, the organization is the world’s no.1 provider in cloud infrastructure facility. Currently, it ranks 39th on the list of Fortune 100 companies and they serve 99% of the Fortune 100 companies. With 4000+ employee base in India alone, it has the world’s second largest R&D centre in India.
Mr. Bishnoo Ananth joined the discussion by explaining what project management is, using Marvel Comics as an example. He talked about how Marvel started small and how they used the concept of project management to evolve and reach where they are now. He also mentioned that Marvel uses an Agile approach to phase their movies. Mr. Ananth then discussed the 10 commandments of Project Management.
The first commandment identifies the “team” as the core strength in project management. Taking the example of Marvel, what made them so successful is that they identified their core strength, i.e. the 7000+ characters they have and started tapping into that potential. In project management, it is really important to let the stakeholders know that you care about the project and you really have the skin in the game. Planning in advance or having an idea of the big picture is an important aspect of project management. The team needs to maintain the consistency and quality throughout their work.
Collaboration across teams is critical in project management, but at the same time care should be taken to make sure that this collaboration does not turn into a bottleneck, especially when working in a geographically diverse team. Also, when the team is trusted and given the freedom to figure out their activities, it breeds ownership. Mr Ananth emphasised that if the teams are diverse and working on their ways, ultimately it is the job of the project manager to be the “dot connector” and bring them all together. Mr. Ananth pointed out that, no matter how good and successful a team is currently, there will always be a change coming and the team should be prepared to embrace the change.
Ms. Monica Shrivastava – Lead Portfolio Manager from VMware engaged the students in a game to help demonstrate how they must be adaptive to change. We need to adapt to grow and embrace the change to get ahead. Project management can be seen in everyday life. Everything that has an objective and has a start and end date is project management.
It is an art and science. The new era of project management has started with AI and Machine Learning (ML). AI is not a new technology, it has been in development for sixty years. It is a superset of deep learning and machine learning. AI works in multiple ways – data mining, algorithms, automation, pattern recognition, neural networks and so on.
AI and ML empowers and enables the workforce. It has to be embraced. In today’s business environment recruiters are looking for people who are highly adaptable, have problem-solving skills and are ready to accept and adapt to the rapid changes in the environment. AI and ML are used in different aspects of project management – integration, scope, time management, cost management, quality management, communication, HR, risk management, procurement and stakeholder management
There is a myth in the current industry that AI will replace the people in the workforce. This is not true. The augmented workforce will help us take human capabilities to new heights. There are three major aspects in which AI can never replace humans in the workforce – Human creativity, emotional intelligence and people management. We need to inculcate change in our outlook. Agile is here to stay and we should utilise it to deliver value to the customer.