(Even though you might be Dooming the Human Race in the Process) 

By Cory Camic 

Artificial Intelligence

Brings up all kinds of sinister images, doesn’t it? 

Skynet from The Terminator, with Arnold Schwarzennegger telling us he’ll be back. HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey: “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t do that.” Ash throwing up all that white stuff in Alien. 

But don’t worry. We’re still a long way from machines turning on us and taking over…I think. 

Today’s AI

Actually, the artificial intelligence of today is not scary at all (I know my Amazon Echo has never done anything worse than recommend a truly bad playlist). As project managers, we can gain a lot from using AI to our benefit. 

See, as a business development guy, I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule — 80 percent of the activities we do contribute to only about 20 percent of our actual results. And on the flip side, the top 20 percent of the activities we do lead to 80 percent of our results. 

The gist of this maxim is that if we have a limited amount of time (and we do), we should strive to use as much of that time as possible on the 20 percent of activities that are going to yield the 80 percent of results. 

In a nutshell, let’s let the robots do our dirty work!  

And yes, I know that’s what started the machine rebellion in, like, 99% of sci-fi movies, but we’re safely here in 2019, and this is what using AI for your benefit looks like: 

Google AI Assistant can book appointments for you

This amazing YouTube video shows the Google Assistant making mundane phone calls for its human masters (maybe I shouldn’t use that word), and it’s a good bet the person on the other line didn’t even know they were talking to a machine! The Google Assistant scheduling a haircut sounds adorably nice and kind of like a girl in my high school algebra class. And the male voice in the second call booking a reservation at an Asian restaurant navigates strong accents and confusion like the polite, savvy millennial you would swear he was. Here at Solarity, we are using this technology to book meetings internally. Eventually we’ll roll it out externally as well.  

Text to Talk is almost seamless 

Maybe you didn’t even know you were dooming the human race when you voice-texted your wife to please bring the kids home after swim practice. Yes, text-to-talk is a feature of artificial intelligence. It’s my all-time favorite contribution to our demise. Text-to-talk can be used for text communication, to take notes in apps like Evernote, even to draft emails. Text-to-talk functionality means I can be productive while walking down the hall to my next meeting, and with better ease than typing, tapping or swiping. 

Grammarly can be your personal Grammar Police, only less annoying

Written communication gets an automatic pat-down at Solarity from Grammarly, a spell- and grammar-check app. We use it to scan our emails, Word docs, CRM, social media posts, etc. Of all the AI we use, this will probably be the one to take us down since it’s actually smarter than us. But there’s nothing inherently dangerous about i before e and the correct use of the apostrophe, right? I hope not. 

What AI can’t do for you yet  . . .  you can delegate 

If you’re not sold, you can still get time back for yourself without inciting humanity’s dark march into the Matrix. Besides, I’ll bet there are still some tasks in your 80% that require advanced thinking and a human touch. Those things can be delegated to help you keep your focus. For example, at Solarity, we outsource most of our social media posts, and we hire junior project managers to support the more seasoned PMs and to perform some inside sales work. 

A forum called Fiverr provides freelancers a way to offer their services to professionals, and professionals a chance to offload some of their 80% to talented human beings. 

By the way, this concept works in your personal life as well. Now that my kids are older, I delegate tasks to them. They benefit by gaining skills, knowledge, character, work ethic, real-life experience, etc. They love it when I point this out to them! 🙂 I also like to use tools like Wal-Mart pick-up or Kroger Clicklist for grocery shopping. Robots aren’t loading my groceries into the cart and delivering them to my home . . . yet. People are. And not having to do the time-consuming work of shopping lets me focus on my priorities. Want to learn more about prioritizing? Check out The Four Hour Work Week. Or better yet, tell Alexa to add it to your to-do list. 

What? You’re still hung up on the whole robots-taking-over-the-world thing?  

Let me give you one word: R2D2. R2D2 never turned on Luke. 

Maybe there’s hope for us yet. 

So, how can you use AI and other automation tools to get time back to focus on your top 20%?

About the Author 

Cory Camic, PMP®, Business Development Manager 

Cory has provided services to Solarity for five of his nearly 20 year career with proven ingenuity in the areas of sales team development and management, as well as leveraging solutions-based selling to increase corporate profitability. Additionally, Cory has 15 years of experience working in the technology field, helping to design, implement, and manage technology solutions for enterprise organizations in both the public and private sectors. Cory is characterized as a results-driven individual with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. 

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