Post-pandemic, few workplaces and virtually no industries remain untouched by digital transformation. The pitfalls of legacy systems that aren’t rooted in the latest technology—flaws in efficiency, efficacy and, in many cases, security—are only becoming more apparent as companies shift to integrated, dynamic systems that are cloud-based, IoT-dependent and fully automated.
In most cases, these transitions result in better operations, management, productivity and administration of daily tasks. Company heads, project managers and even employees who may have expressed initial reluctance about the implementation of new technologies are now saying, “This makes things so much easier. … Why didn’t we do this before?”
While the outcomes of the digital revolution can be most easily observed in tangible metrics—more units produced, more efficient use of resources, fewer hours spent on tedious administrative tasks—one of the most salient impacts of this period of transformation is the area of decision making.
Particularly in this period of transition, wherein we find ourselves facing an impending recession and hopefully soon exiting a global pandemic, change management remains top of mind for many executives, especially since many project management offices have changed leadership in the past couple of years. Fortunately, even as personnel may be in flux, digital tools exist to drive and inform better decision making, such that these changes can be weathered with a steady hand and a clear trajectory (no matter who is at the helm).
The Shift Toward Digitization
The adoption of digital tools increases efficiency and efficacy across business processes. In particular, these tools give project leaders unprecedented access to information that can drive and improve decision making. Systems for everything from personnel management, to tracking productivity, to customer relationship-building and maintenance, to communication, to space and resource management can optimize the workplace and the workflow.
In legacy systems, so many of these processes were relegated to Excel spreadsheets or, worse, paper-based logbooks. Now, these digital systems provide information that, taken at a glance, allows managers and other leaders to make critical decisions about everything from financials, to resource allocation, to production goals.
Leveraging AI And ML
According to a 2020 survey by McKinsey, 66% of executives say that their revenue has improved through decision making powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision. These enhancements in decision making occur when, instead of human beings pouring over reams of data and trying to draw conclusions, AI platforms are used to analyze trends, quantify data and indicate the best course of action. These applications can crunch data, spot trends as well as anomalies (averting potential problems down the line) and quickly yield a more complex level of analysis than a human being (or a team of human beings) could in a similar amount of time.
AI-indicated business decisions should be overseen and authenticated by a human being. A manager or executive should eventually be the one to say, “Yes, given the data, let’s do this.” But that human decision is informed, clarified and rendered far more accurate through the use of AI-enabled technologies.
The Power Of Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics, put simply, are data models built by analyzing historical data, noting trends and anomalies, discovering patterns (which might not be evident without this deep analysis of data) and using all of that information to build models of what will happen in the future—particularly at the enterprise or industry level.
Across all industries, organizations are investing in predictive analytics to use their budgets more efficiently, predict future needs, spot overruns before they happen, better serve customers through improved understanding of their behavior and ultimately boost revenue. Research by McKinsey shows that companies that leverage predictive analytics make better strategic decisions, in some cases outperforming peers by over 85%.
It All Comes Down To Data
Ultimately, access to new pools of data is a benefit of almost every form of digitization, enabling companies’ decision making to have unprecedented foresight, specificity and accuracy. Forward-thinking executives and managers are increasingly grounding their decisions in facts, metrics, trends and projections that they previously would not have had access to. And, increasingly, data-driven decision making is becoming the norm across all industries.
The project management office is ideally positioned to initiate the adoption of AI-based or digital transformation projects and solutions within an organization. The PMO as center of excellence is responsible for managing the organization’s portfolio of projects, and as change management source, it is well-positioned to identify opportunities to use AI, IoT or cloud services to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organizational processes and offerings. By working with other departments and stakeholders, the PMO can help develop a strategic plan for implementing and adopting innovative solutions, and it can provide guidance and support throughout the process.
To successfully implement and adopt AI-based solutions, organizations need to invest in the necessary infrastructure, tools and resources. This can include hardware, software, and data storage and management systems, as well as specialized AI algorithms and machine learning models. Organizations may also need to invest in training and development programs to help employees understand how to use AI tools and techniques and to ensure that they are able to work effectively with AI systems.
Overall, the use of digitalization, automation and AI in organizational decision making can provide significant benefits, including more accurate predictions and forecasts, improved resource utilization and streamlined operations. By taking a strategic approach to implementing and adopting emerging technologies, organizations can leverage the power of it to improve their decision making and reimagine and transform the way they do business in the digital age by becoming more competitive in the marketplace.
Originally written by Milan Dordevic for Forbes