Do Machines Hold a Key to Business Success?


By Schenita Floyd

Dallas, Texas, USA


Artificial intelligence (AI) is here, but can we use it to improve project performance to meet deadlines and stay within budget?  Every project manager knows the project team is the most valuable resource, but with technological advances the new project team may include an artificial intelligence resource such as R2-D2.   Can we as humans work comfortably with Siri, Alexa, R2-D2, and Watson without feeling intimidated or threatened?  Will you listen to your teammate, Deep Blue, or ignore his warnings as rubbish and trust yourself on your next approach?  Project teams are currently working together internationally touching a variety of time zones and cultural differences.  Imagine leading a project team with humans and artificial intelligence machines.  Introducing the new human resource challenge, Man vs Machine!

It may seem intimidating or scary, although there are already many industries using artificial intelligence such as automotive, entertainment, manufacturing, and healthcare.  We can learn from these industries, researchers, sci-fi movies and books.  One known solution discussed in academia is having humans and AIs split tasks based on their individual strengths.  Do not forget about the pitfalls of projects and upper management influences!  Project managers must prepare to deal with bottlenecks from AIs and humans.  Executives will lean more towards using artificial intelligence as a resource because of manageability and cost savings, but project managers must incorporate human guidance, creativity, intuition, judgement, and nuisance.

This paper seeks to explore human insecurities with machines, introduce our future co-workers, and identify ways the new team will work together to benefit the business.

Keywords:  artificial intelligence, project management, robots, human resource, machines

Do Machines Hold a Key to Business Success?

Technology is moving at a rapid speed and more and more businesses are embracing artificial intelligence with billions in investments. According to the Economist magazine (2016), “technology giants are speeding to increase their AI activities and spent $8.5 billion dollars on research, deals, and jobs”.  Businesses are working closely with artificial intelligence researchers to develop and build innovative smart machines of the future.  Siri and Alexa are no longer foolish assistants running a few preprogrammed tasks.  Now, you can have full conversations with Siri as if she is human.  Even Microsoft announced their new product, Conversations as a platform, a host of bots for applications like Skype.  Do machines hold a key to business success?  If you consider recent business investments, then the answer is yes.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Wikipedia (2016) defines artificial intelligence as “the intelligence exhibited by machines or software or the study and design of intelligent agents, in which an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes action that maximizes its chance of success.”  Ray Kurzweil (2000) in his book the Age of Spiritual Machines defines AI as “the field of research that attempts to emulate human intelligence in a machine. Fields within Artificial Intelligence include knowledge-based systems, expert systems, pattern recognition, automatic learning, natural language understanding, robotics and others.”

The field of AI was founded at a conference on the campus of Dartmouth College in the summer of 1956.  Attendees were John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, Arthur Samuel, and Herbert Simon. Artificial Intelligence actually dates back to many early philosophers and to what most people call the father of Artificial Intelligence, an English mathematician named Alan Turning. Alan Turing wrote several papers and the most noteworthy papers were Intelligent Machinery and Computing Machinery and Intelligence where he describe his test to see if a machine had human capabilities, also known as the Turning Test (Wikipedia, 2016).  Kurzweil explains in How to Create a Mind, “if passed a machine has the level of intelligence as a human” (Kurzweil, 2012).


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 10th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in August 2016.  It is republished here with permission of the author and conference organizers.



About the Author

Schenita A. Floyd

Dallas, Texas, USA


Schenita Floyd
is a Project Manager with 20 years of experience in managing engineering, marketing, and IT related projects.   She is currently a Project Manager at the University of North Texas in Denton where she is pursuing her PhD in Applied Technology and Performance Improvement.

Schenita graduated with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and has an MBA in Finance from Southeastern University.  She has a Master’s certificate in Project Management from George Washington University and has held her PMP certification since 2001.

Schenita can be contacted at [email protected].