Bristol meetup with Saikat Sen

Published by Clare Patterson on

Saikat Sen from Absolut Data gave a great talk at the Bristol Project Data Analytics meetup on 1 Oct providing a very comprehensive overview of the potential of AI. He covered a huge amount of ground and provided some real gems.  

The slides can be found here Bristol Project Data Analytics Meet-up 3009

One of his killer arguments for me was that as project delivery professionals “we are crippling the machines and stopping the potential of AI from being realised”. He highlighted that data is often not in people’s job descriptions and KPIs are often not tracked. We do not know how good their data is. I don’t get any brownie points for how I have stored my data, contributed to organisational learning or helped the next project. We don’t know how effectively they are delivering projects because we don’t look back and measure how good they were at their job.  

He provided a helpful framework for getting started in AI within a project delivery context:  

  • Select. Start with an impactful business problem.  
  • Develop. Develop the solution with a focus on scale up. Fail fast.  
  • Scale, scale, scale. Rapid scale up across the business and across projects.  

We need to change the emerging architecture with an embedded intelligence stack.  

  • Encourage the right mindset. Enquiring minds.  
  • Promoting experimentation. Letting people try things out.  
  • Active leadership. Ensuring that the leadership team is invested, unblocking challenges.  
  • Incorporating data into strategy.  
  • Cultivating new skills.  

He quoted a statistic from Accenture that if we bring together human and machines within an AI context it has the potential to improve performance by 6.5x.  

He highlighted one of the greatest challenges is currently ‘Filling in the data gapWe tend to collect data because we have always collected it rather than aligning it to the business problem that we are trying to resolve. Rather than using humans to fill in more forms to collect more data with have an opportunity to use automation and the power of the machine to triangulate, develop proxies and provide recommendations 

Project managers will share their roles with an augmentation assistant. The assistant will remove the dull and repetitive work, and provide evidence based probabilistic insights that aid decision making. AI will also provide insights into individual performance, enabling project leadership to focus in on coaching and development opportunities.   

Current ChallengeHe highlighted the current challenge as: 

  • Lack of understanding about what AI is, what it can do and what it cannot do.  
  • Organisations think that it is more hype than substance.  
  • Lack capability and required skills.  
  • Many organisations believe that they are already doing it. Yet they don’t have a strategy, an end goal or agreement on a roadmap.  
  • A risk aversion and preference to let others figure it out. But by the time others have aligned data to their business problems, improved data quality and developed the volume of data (which can take years for multiple projects to conclude), it may be too late to ever catch up.   

He nailed it! Thanks Saikat.   

Martin Paver is CEO/Founder of Projecting Success. In Dec 2017 he saw the opportunity to transform how projects could be delivered through the application of advanced data analytics and founded the London Project Data Analytics meetup, which has expanded throughout the UK and has grown to a community of ~3000 people. He delivers strategic and tactical solutions that integrate project management and leading edge data science and analytics.

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