Digitisation and how it affects the world of work

Digitisation and how it affects the world of work 18.04.2018 -  Digitisation is THE subject in all industries and almost everyone notices its effects in their workplace directly and indirectly. Especially in an industry like project management you have to adapt to new technologies and digital gadgets almost monthly. A modern project manager is expected to be familiar with the latest methods and technical tools. The effects of digitization are manifold. People, society and the environment often feel changes delayed and not immediately, because digitization is progressing slowly and step by step, so that it is often only in retrospect that everything that has changed in recent years can really be recorded. Anyone who calls a hotline, for example, no longer expects to hear a human voice. Long (more or less) intelligent software has taken over here. We are also no longer surprised that it is possible to check in at an automatic terminal at the airport or in the hotel, or that an order console takes over the work of a waiter in the fast food restaurant. All these are examples of a progressive interlocking of man and machine. It's no different in the workplace.

Equilibrium shift
From the modem, which dialed into the Internet slowly and noisily, to the spread of wireless Internet connections and cloud services, to Industry 4.0, much has developed very quickly. With automation and digitization, working models and working conditions change fundamentally. In a way, the balance between man and machine is shifting because software, robots and computers have taken up a central position in the value chain.
In some areas, people nowadays play a minor role, while computers do the main work. In project management this will at least not happen in the foreseeable future, the human component is still essential here. But above all, computers and digital programs have become an integral part of the day-to-day work of project managers. However, this also created a great dependence on computers and technology. Just think about what happens when a projector suddenly switches off during a presentation or – much more devastatingly – what the consequences are if a server crash occurs.

New freedoms and new difficulties
As projects become more complex, new digital techniques and tools are emerging. Customers ask specifically for certain programs and apps, for methods of publication and communication, so that project managers need to be up to date, at least in general terms. For customers who are not so familiar with the technology, it is important that the project manager can suggest suitable technologies. They therefore need to be informed about new products and know the state of the art. New communication methods enable unusual models, homework and independence from time of day. This brings with it many freedoms, but makes it more difficult to keep private and working life strictly separate. After all, nowadays you can also take part in a telephone conference with important stakeholders in New York in your pyjamas while getting ready for bed. While robots and computer programs do a lot of work, the final responsibility still lies with the project manager. He or she must check everything that a software produces – and in the end a human being is always blamed for errors. The project management team must ensure that the technology always functions correctly and delivers exactly what is important and right for the course of the project.

The new world of digitization
Project management must combine digital and human components and ensure an optimal result and a successful completion of the project. More than ever before, a combination of professional competence, social, communicative and technical skills is of central importance in project management. Anyone who ignores technical progress will not achieve their goal. Those who rely solely on technology and neglect the interpersonal aspect will not be successful either. Project managers are still required to walk the tightrope between technology and communication while working in an intercultural and interdisciplinary environment. Every project manager must therefore be constantly interested in new things, observe technical developments and willingly engage in creative solutions. It's not easy getting used to everything changing all the time. That is in the nature of things. There is no reason not to use proven methods over and over again. However, it is essential not to close one's eyes to new and perhaps better approaches.

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