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Project Manager : Project Manager June July 2012
28 Project Manager technology What technology trends on global researcher Gartner’s ‘must watch’ list will have the greatest impact on project management in 2012? By keeli camBourne Top tech trends to watch FOLLOWING THE GARTNER SYMPOSIUM/ITXPO IN Florida late last year, the world’s largest technology research and advisory company released what it believes will be the top 10 technologies to watch, invest in and learn to use over the next 12 months. Gartner called them ‘strategic technologies’ – ones that have the potential for ‘significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years’. In simple terms, it means existing technologies that have matured or become suitable for wider use, or emerging ones that could provide a strategic business advantage for early adopters. While there are some familiar ones such as cloud computing, mobile devices and social networking, there are also a number of much less obvious technologies, including big data, next- generation analytics, in-memory computer, extreme low-energy savers, app stores and marketplaces, Internet of Things and mobile-centric applications and interfaces. Shift in business thinking However, just because a new technology is coming into the marketplace doesn’t necessarily mean it will in fact make life any easier for project managers, says Pete Swan, Director of PM- Partners group. “Changes brought about from emerging technology advances generally deliver a very positive impact to business, however, they are not purely technical but must be accompanied by changes to management processes and a new way of thinking,” he says. “The emergence of mobile-centric applications, cloud computing and social media requires a significant shift in business thinking, process and, in many ways, culture. Projects and programs will need to broaden their scope to accommodate this. “Additionally, when new technologies emerge, the inter- relationships between existing and proposed systems are challenged, sometimes requiring a review of some projects currently in flight – this can be an opportunity or, in some cases, a distraction.” Rob Leslie-Carter, Australasia Leader, Program and Project Management for Arup, a structural engineering consultancy, agrees and says a change in the way we use technology on projects needs to be adopted throughout the supply chain. “As project managers, we can be great influencers (or conversely, blockers) in terms of the people, process and technology used on projects, both through leading by example and by designing technology strategies that project teams will buy into because they can see it is adding real value rather than bureaucracy,” he says. Adoption in Australia Although Australia may be considered isolated from the world in terms of its location and access to new technologies, Ken Chung, Project Management lecturer at Sydney University, says the country is in fact one of the earliest adopters of new technologies. “I see Australia as being very well positioned to absorb most of the innovations to come. Australia has always been at the forefront of technology-related innovations and adoption. If we take the origins of Google Maps for instance, Australia is its rightful birthplace,” he says. “Australia was also one of the first countries to embrace 3G – third generation of mobile telephony technology – at a time when mobile applications were scarce and when most other countries were still utilising 2G networks.” The impact of generational change Leslie-Carter says the demographic of a typical project management career has changed massively over the past 15 years but is not yet fully evolved. “In the construction industry, project managers historically emerged from architects, engineers and contractors with 30 years’ experience looking for new challenges or perhaps being pushed in new directions. The knock-on effect of this has been, and in some instances still is, old-school table-thumping leadership more likely to insist projects ‘are done the way I’ve always done it’ rather than embracing technology change,” he says. “ Today a new generation of project management leadership is emerging who have technology in their gut, are more flexible and today a new generation of Project management leadershiP is emerging who have technology in their gut
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