What if you could cut off all the time you spend on mundane tasks at work? What if you didn't have to worry about schedules and keeping your projects on-track? What if you had all the time in the world to be creative and move bricks? Sounds great, right?
Well, we're not quite there yet, but this is the direction we're moving in. A corporate world where you can focus on exactly the things that you're best at while leaving the rest for a machine to process, e.g. finding and booking the best resources for a project or task with the click of a button, or maybe even completely automated. This article will focus on what's possible with the current level of AI, and how you can already now leverage AI to your advantage with software available today. We will also go through how AI already has a major impact on business performance in leading companies across industries.
Forecast is one of the first within Business Software to take the leap from traditional software to intelligent and personalized software. It's not just about building the best solution anymore. It's about building the best solution for every user. The solution that can process and present the data in the right way, and now also assist you in taking action based on this processed data. This is a completely new category of software named Professional Services Automation, or PSA.
One of the ways Forecast is already leveraging this is with personalized estimations. Based on data from your organization, your team's behavior, and a high and low estimate - Forecast is able to give you a more accurate estimate of time, resources needed, and whether the budget will be sufficient. This example might seem pretty basic, but when you extend this functionality across the organization, it begins to make a whole lot of sense. Even just an hour or two added or removed from each of your task estimates can, in the end, make or break your deliverable or milestone. Another example is the use of AI to predict labels you want to assign to a card. Labels are used for various purposes, e.g. to improve estimations and to suggest resources with the right competencies. In this particular example, Forecast uses the subset of AI called Natural-Language Processing, to read and understand task descriptions combined with general AI to predict the right answer.
There are a few things going into making this intelligent and possible in the first place. First of all, there is the whole concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI). What is it? Well, basically it's an algorithm that is continuously improved based on data coming into the system, compared with the outcome or result of each action. For instance, when looking into making a more precise time estimate, you may look at previous experience from each user associated with the particular task, you may look at the content of the task, and you may look at the project or client it is related to, among other factors.
That leads us on to one of the many subsets of AI, Natural-Language Processing (NLP). NLP is the understanding of natural language. In other words, making machines able to understand, interpret and make intelligent decisions based on our use of words. This might not initially seem impressing, but when applied on a larger scale across an organization, it is able to make justified suggestions for you based on more data and information than you would ever be able to accommodate yourself. It is able to suggest your next move based on previous experience with other people across your business, it is able to learn from your behavior and how you prefer to work, and in some cases it is even able to learn from across organizations through an anonymous process to improve the overall algorithms and thereby benefit everybody. This is helpful even if your business still doesn't have any corporate data yet.
This is also where AI, similar to humans, has its limits. It can't predict the future without something to base the prediction upon. Naturally, we need data from the past to make justified suggestions about the future. That's also how an AI-powered system can get increasingly intelligent over time. Just like humans, as we learn and grow, we make fewer bad decisions and more of the good ones. Now, imagine if you could learn from not just your own experience, but instead that of hundreds or thousands of others. This is what a system like Forecast can deliver to your resource- and project management teams. Suddenly, your decisions are not just made based on a single person or team anymore. Instead, they're made based on data from various similar projects and behavior from the past. Projects that the project manager may not even have been a part of him/herself.
Now, how does this affect your projects? Well, it's not able to take over the control of your projects completely. And, you probably don't want that either. But it is able to give you a better understanding of what's going on, and give you the perspective you need to make the right decisions. Data to suggest and support your important decisions, whether it be about costs, about the timeline and roadmap, or about your scheduling of resources. It simply frees up time, eases decision making, and lets you focus on what's most important and fun to do - often all the creative ideas.
The future is really a collaboration between Humans and AI. Humans controlling the systems, being the creative faucets and making sure everything is applied and used best possible. Letting AI have the computing power to enlighten us with the information, insights, and suggestions we need, and letting humans decide exactly what to apply and how to do it.