Project HAwK wins 2021 Switch2Product | Innovation Challenge

Project HAwK proposed by Domenico Nucera (PhD Candidate, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering), Luca Bertulessi (Researcher, Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering) and Tommaso Maioli (Alumnus of Politecnico di Milano) has won the Switch2Product Grant in the category “Industry Transformation”, ranking among the top 26 teams on a total of 250 projects presented at the S2P program, organized by PoliHub, the Technology Transfer Office of Politecnico di Milano and Deloitte’s Officine Innovazione.

HAwK is a hardware accelerator for the analysis of data coming from high data rate sensors, with the aim of reducing costs and energy consumption, enabling Artificial Intelligence on edge.

The 30.000 euros prize will serve the purpose of the technological development of the project, which is going to be realized with the scientific advisory of DIG’s Professors Marco Macchi and Luca Fumagalli and DEIB’s Professor Salvatore Levantino.

Domenico Nucera has enrolled in the 37° PhD cycle in Management Engineering and has been working for 2 years at the Industry 4.0 Lab at DIG. Luca Bertulessi is a researcher at ARPLab at DEIB.
HAwK will be able to promote potential cross-disciplinary activities between the above mentioned DIG and DEIB laboratories.

The awards ceremony was held at MADE Competence Center Industry 4.0, in the Bovisa campus of Politecnico di Milano.

 

For further information, please click here.

Data and human resources management: the new frontiers of project management

Mauro Mancini, director of the Flex executive programme in Project Management, illustrates the reasons that project management has become increasingly important in companies and what skills are required.

Knowing how to analyse growing amounts of data, prioritizing human resources development, being up to speed with the use of artificial intelligence. They are only some of the qualities that must be possessed by a project manager, an increasingly important figure for companies and organizations. «It’s an evolution caused mainly by the digital transformation and by a global scenario whose development is increasingly rapid and unpredictable», explains Professor Mauro Mancini, director of the FLEX executive programme in Project Management at MIP Politecnico di Milano. «At the international level, a phenomenon is underway that the scientific community calls projectification. In other words, even ordinary and process activities must increasingly be managed with the typical tools of project management».

Hard, soft, contextual skills

What the project management approaches have in common is the idea of uniqueness: «Uniqueness of the final product, of the available human capital, of the social context, of the temporal contingency and of the partnership involved in the project itself», clarifies Mancini. But to enhance these elements, the project manager must possess a wide range of skills: «First of a technical nature, the so-called hard skills: I’m referring to the knowledge of methods, techniques and approaches developed for rapidly evolving scenarios like EVNS, Scrum, Real Option, data visualization. Regarding soft skills, leadership and the abilities of delegating, mentoring, training, team building, and team working are essential». But there’s a third order of skills that shouldn’t be underestimated, which Mancini describes as “of context”: «A good project manager must understand in real time the main elements of an organizational, social and cultural context, because not only structural elements but especially contingent ones are crucial for the success of an initiative. On these, if necessary, one must be able to remodel the project itself, adapting it quickly and with foresight with an approach many people call agile business. The balance of these three skill sets allow a project manager to be ready to face the challenges of the future».

Data and people: key elements

If we look at the evolution of project management in recent years, the factors that have redefined the borders of the discipline are essentially two: on one hand, the importance of information management, on the other human resources. «We live in an era in which we have an increasing amount of data available. The project manager must be able to make decisions not only based on available information, but also with a clear awareness of that which is missing. Helping them today in this process of data screening and schematizing are several tools developed thanks to the evolution of artificial intelligence, that allows for the rapid implementation of self-learning rules. But in a context where small or large unforeseen events are normal, the project manager will increasingly have to assert their own personal capabilities and experience», explains Mancini. «The final decision both concerning one’s own structure and the customer (which sometimes coincide) is the task of the project manager, and this is also true for team management. Among their primary objectives there must be the development of collaborators and their full involvement, to multiply the working group’s capacity for action. The project manager’s task is to guide this participation, protecting it from the pressures of stakeholders involved in the project».

Digital education expands networking

MIP’s FLEX executive programme in Project Management deals with these and other issues, with the aim of training and educating a well-rounded professional and, especially, one who is up to date: «The programme has a completely digital format, it favours the participation of managers and professional from a wide geographical area. This factor expands networking possibilities among participants. Teaching», explains Mancini, «will follow two tracks: synchronous and asynchronous. Asynchronous learning allows to gain skills independently, to then refine and fine-tune them in synchronous mode, that’s to say interacting directly with the teachers. Our goal is not only to provide useful tools from the start, but also to share with participants those skills necessary for self-learning and continuous education, crucial to face the changes that will characterise the decades to come».

Flexibility, skills, artificial intelligence: Logol’s challenges were born at MIP

Marco Farina, 2015 Flex EMBA alumnus, tells about the establishment of Logol and what he learned from his participation in the master’s programme. Starting from the ability to work remotely, using new technologies

Why is technology, often, surrounded by a negative sentiment? And why isn’t its potential completely embraced? These are the questions from which Marco Farina, 2015 Flex EMBA alumnus of MIP Politecnico di Milano, started to set up Logol, a Swiss company that since 2017 has been active in the field of artificial intelligence. «My idea», explains Farina, «is that too often digital transformation services are managed in an improvised fashion. The objective was and remains that to bring real skills within companies, skills that can translate into a real value added for business. And in this process artificial intelligence now plays a fundamental role».

Logol’s operational pillars

There are four pillars on which Logol’s business model is based, says Farina: «We are first of all advisors. Our main goal is to support companies in their approach to AI». The second pilaster, instead, is tied to the idea for which Logol was born:  «We were established as a company without a physical office. Smart working is part of our mentality, and it’s this same attitude that we want to bring to the companies that turn to us. This process mainly involves the migration of server infrastructure to the cloud. In the transfer of this sensitive data, data security is fundamental, and AI helps to increase the level of security».

The third pilaster involves business applications. «Today companies must be lean, if they want to be competitive. Today’s gold is data, so the planning of an information system must be carried out using modern applications that allow you to have a holistic vision of the company».

The last pilaster involves pure AI. «After having rationalized the company’s technologies and processes, we apply artificial intelligence to the reference technology, whether it’s a chatbot, the optimization of warehouse stock or customer engagement in ecommerce».

Logol makes flexibility one of its strengths and works with both medium-small and large companies: «In the world of small and medium businesses we position ourselves as the sole interlocutors, because we step in to totally redesign their technological approach», explains Farina. «In our relations with larger companies, with which we don’t have an exclusive relationship, we express our expertise in more specific areas».

The Flex EMBA experience: a rehearsal for flexibility

Before setting up such an innovative company, Marco Farina attended the Flex EMBA programme. An experience that proved useful to him from different points of view: «First of all, I felt the need to strengthen my skills. I had already studied computer engineering at the Politecnico, but I still needed to acquire the expertise necessary to understand the management of business processes». The master’s also allowed Farina to forge important relationships with his colleagues: «The relationship with them was fantastic, and still is, seeing that we are still in touch. Uniting us, now and then, was the desire to challenge ourselves with the goal of improving. The possibility of interacting with people with very different educational and training backgrounds, thus adopting always new points of view, represented a real value added». The FLEXA format fit well with his needs in that particular moment of his career: «It was a decidedly demanding moment, flexibility was fundamental». A flexibility that represented an important testing ground, on which to develop those smart working methods on which Logol would be built: «For two years we got used to interacting as if we were in front of each other. This is fundamental: these are practices that we, as entrepreneurs and managers, must pass on to our collaborators. The workers of the future will be people who interact in this way».

Why human value in the digital age is even more essential

The growth of digitalization is viewed with concern by many. Yet new technologies can boost productivity and flexibility. If managers know how to spot the right opportunities

 

Human interaction is the first casualty of the digital age”. It’s the title that introduces an editorial signed by Vivek Wadhwa, a tech sector entrepreneur, Harvard professor and, among other things, an early fan of social media. Over time, like many others, Wadhwa changed his mind, coming to believe that digital media have done more harm than good to interpersonal relationships. In the same way, many people maintain that advanced digital technologies can reduce the centrality of the human element in the world of work. But is that true? A series of data and forecasts show how it’s possible to take countermeasures. And how the role of managers is key in this scenario.

Human relations: between relationships and connections

A survey by the World Economic Forum, carried out in 2016 on a sample of over 5,000 individuals across five continents, reveals a widespread perception that is in sharp contrast to Wadhwa’s fears. According to the majority of those interviewed, the use of social media has actually led to a greater ability to make friendships in the real world, to maintain relationships with existing friends and with one’s partner and, surprise!, also to develop greater empathy.
But all that glitters isn’t gold. If it’s true that on one hand digital media enables social interaction, often giving a voice to minorities, on the other hand there are risks, as the World Economic Forum itself highlights in the Digital Media and Society report: it’s possible that the development of online relationship skills doesn’t correspond to a similar improvement in offline social skills. In short, it’s a scenario with light and shadows, that we also see in the workplace.

Changing work

Digital technologies are shaping the form and contents of the job offering. Among positive effects can be counted an increase in productivity and flexibility, in particular in the growing use of teleworking, or smart working, made possible by the development of increasingly fast network connections and of increasingly efficient digital communication tools. However, there are also plenty of doubts in this area. Indeed, digital media can lead to an increase in inequality, caused by the rapid evolution of the most highly sought out skills. It’s not unreasonable to expect a widening of the gap in the value (and thus also in the economic value) between employees with low level skills and colleagues with more advanced and valuable ones.

Exploiting technology, enhancing the value of humans

To avoid these risks, the figure of the leader becomes central. They must have “the knowledge and skills to recognize and anticipate digital trends, understand the implications for their business and use technology to their advantage to keep up to pace”, states the report Digital Media and Society. It’s up to the organizations, and therefore to their managers, to develop appropriate strategies to integrate digital media in the workflow, and to be proactive in tapping into the opportunities and avoiding the dangers their employees may face. Another report from the World Economic Forum, Our Shared Digital Future, shared further guidelines to thrive in the digital revolution: what is key is the creation of a network of responsible leaders that encourages the reskilling of employees. If it’s true, as suggested by the 2018 Future of Jobs Report, also prepared by the WeF, that by 2022 automation will replace humans in a significant percentage of their workload, it becomes fundamental to enhance those activities that artificial intelligence still can’t carry out: an apparent paradox, but the competitive advantage of companies and workers will increasingly depend on the ability to show themselves to be inimitably human. Despite digital innovation.

With Epson and Re Mago, MIP Politecnico di Milano has created the first Smart Classroom in Italy, geared towards collaboration and encouraging brainstorming

MIP has completed its digital classroom project. The most advanced video-projection and collaboration technology applied to the classroom delivers fully interactive and highly engaging lessons.

 

MIP, Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management, has completed its project to create fully digital lecture rooms, and today is inaugurating its first “special” Digital Classroom designed to share information visually and encourage brainstorming. This milestone underlines MIP’s continuous high commitment to tap into the opportunities provided by cutting-edge digital tools and offer its students the best possible learning experience.

Along with the other 13 lectures room in the Bovisa Campus equipped with similar tools, the Milan lecture room uses the most innovative technological solutions elaborated by Epson in partnership with Re Mago Ltd, a British company that worked with a largely Italian development team to create visual collaboration and brainstorming software, ideal for Smart Classrooms and Smart Working. This software can be used to share, add notes and present digital material (text, sound, graphics, video, links) and information in real-time using any personal or mobile device physically in the lecture room or connected remotely. All these actions are simple and intuitive, backed by a software user-interface designed with even the least keen technology user in mind.

The Smart Classroom has eight Epson EB-710U interactive laser video-projectors arranged in pairs along its four sides, transforming it into four shared work areas where teacher and students can write, share, take notes and modify documents, with every step being recorded, and everything saved at the end of each session, to retain a complete and fully usable digital copy.

In the words of Federico Frattini, Associate Dean for Digital Transformation: “MIP as a school of management is addressing the business world’s needs through specialised post-graduate and post-experience training courses, designed for people who are already embarking on their professional careers. By creating our Smart Classrooms, we intend to give our teachers and students ever more interactive, modern and engaging means for working together in the classroom.”

What is a Smart Classroom and how does it work?

In the educational and corporate worlds alike, the challenge for true and optimal collaboration is to ensure that all the parties involved can act using all the tools and functions available in a simple, intuitive and user-friendly way that does not upset their own personal methods of working but instead gives them that extra help and support.

Each of the two video-projectors placed along the four Smart Classroom walls can be used to project a range of material (for example, the teacher’s lesson and the students input) or to create a single large working area. In either case, the entire projected area is interactive, and people can join in using the pens provided with the video-projectors or even their fingers (using the Finger Touch function). Or, if they are connected remotely, they can write on their own devices – smartphones, tablets or PCs – connected via cloud to the session.

In this way, the area can be used for brainstorming sessions, for drawing and for sharing all sorts of files (images, videos, pdf files, MS Office documents, links to internet sites), and also for browsing purposes and to access and present apps. The full complexity of AI services (machine learning) is hidden behind simple tools, like Re Mago’s “Lasso Tool”. These advanced tools can, for example, recognise and suggest vector images that are as close as possible to the user’s original free-hand drawing, and these images are then used in presentations. Other special functions like recognition software for writing (OCR) and geometric shapes as well as online searches for images, videos and websites are all at the user’s fingertips or at their verbal request. The outcome of the search just needs to be dragged onto the work area for it to be used and consulted. Files can easily be shared between (to and from) any local storage system or cloud service.

Another benefit is that, during or at the end of a lesson, participants do not have to take photos of the work area or take notes, because the complete record of what was done (including sketches, notes, files, audio and video recordings etc.) can be saved, stored and shared through a number of channels.

Machines? Smarter and smarter!

Exploring artificial intelligence and machine learning, technologies that bring accelerating change to our habits (and those of businesses)
 

 

Algorithms that can anticipate people’s tastes. Tests that can provide early diagnosis of a series of illnesses or predict which mechanical components are most likely to fail. Applications in a broad array of other fields, from manufacturing, marketing, and social media to voice recognition and self-driving cars. If the future is already here, this is partially thanks to artificial intelligence and one of its components: machine learning.
Machine learning is a discipline that develops algorithms to make machines intelligent, that is, able to learn from past experience and make decisions regarding the future,” explains Carlotta Orsenigo, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Politecnico di Milano and expert in machine learning algorithms.
The advantages are enormous, also economically: more revenues at lower costs. Better forecasting of demand allows us, for example, to optimize stock management and offer better service to our customers.
Carlotta Orsenigo is also co-director of a master’s program in data science at the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, whose graduates may find work in the business sector. “The International Master’s Program in Business Analytics and Big Data is addressed to people who have a degree in science or economics and less than five years of work experience. The objective is to develop competencies in three different areas: technology, methodology, and business. The one-year program prepares students for a job market with a very high rate of placement.

Predicting demand

The key figure in machine learning is the data scientist, who analyzes data and develops algorithms that make it possible to use similar data as an effective prediction (and decision-making) tool and also interfaces with key company representatives (head of marketing or production, for example) on specific objectives.
Machine learning can be very useful in retail for analyzing and predicting demand for products and services. Based on what customers have bought in the past, predictions are made as to what they will buy in the future. Likewise, the algorithm can analyze an analogous customer pool, that is, one with characteristics similar to our own, to predict what our customers will choose” continues Orsenigo.
The other aspect of demand prediction are recommendations, i.e., the suggestions that big players such as Amazon or Netflix make to their customers (If you liked that film, you’ll also like this one! Are you looking for something to read? Readers with similar tastes also enjoyed this one!). The intelligent machine processes a huge quantity of data and extrapolates patterns and trends without any help from humans.

A host of applications

Another field of application is the manufacturing sector. In this case, the data to be analyzed are collected by the various sensors. Here we are getting into the Internet of Things (IoT). This makes it possible to identify potentially defective pieces in advance and prevent future failures.
Actually, the most important field of application of machine learning is medicine and medical science. “The analysis of genetic expression, for example, allows for the detection of patterns between healthy and unhealthy people and the design of targeted diagnostic tests” says Orsenigo.
Another very important area is voice recognition /vocal interfaces, as we have seen from the success of Alexa and similar virtual assistants. “Our generation still prefers the option of typing, but young people are increasingly used to interacting vocally with their devices.
And there are also chatbots, applications designed to simulate human conversation and learn from their interlocutor (tone of voice, topics of conversation, questions asked…) so they can provide increasingly well-targeted answers.
Not to mention self-driving cars
In a word, the future is still there to be written—sorry, coded.

A day at the Accenture Customer Innovation Network

 

In addition to traditional lessons, the International Part-time MBA training program includes in-company classes held at the most advanced and innovative companies. Thanks to this format, we have the extraordinary opportunity to get in touch directly with managers and executives of leading multinational companies and learn from their experience.

On Friday the 17th of May, we attended an interesting in-company class at the Accenture Customer Innovation Network, an interactive environment where it is possible to imagine, explore, discover and develop the frontier of new digital services.

Luigi Solbiati, Accenture’s Managing Director, welcomed us students, and – together with Alessandro Cisco, Technology Strategy Managing Director – introduced us to the innovative concepts of the platform economy and market dynamics. The platform economy is a new business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations and resources in an interactive ecosystem, in which incredible amounts of value can be created and exchanged.

Subsequently, Alessio Oriolo, Management Consultant, explained the role of innovation in global business and the relationship between innovation and competition.
Finally, we were able to understand how companies use the famous new design thinking approach, agile methods and data analytics, to drive innovation in projects and value for customers.

After the preliminary presentations, we had the opportunity – taking both the consultant’s and the client’s point of view – to explore the spaces of the new innovation center, where the great challenges awaiting companies are solved, and where current business models and the consumer experience are reinvented.

In the Connected Home, we were free to interact with an environment that reproduces a typical day in the life of a consumer. The smart mirror recognizes facial traits and gathers a series of information on our state of health, so as to enable the virtual assistant to elaborate ad hoc personal care suggestions.
The fridge is equipped with a digital wall that reminds you of which products to buy and suggests meals depending on the food it contains, while the oven, through a screen, provides cooking suggestions.
All the functionalities of the house are linked together and managed by artificial intelligence, with the scope to provide personalized services and satisfy our needs in advance.

In the Smart Boutique, we understood how the shopping experience is personalized around the consumer, through the systematic collection of information. Data and information processing of consumer information takes the lead role in the purchasing experience, administered by Customer Relationship Management systems.

The Envision Room is dedicated to the automotive sector and to the personalization of the treatment reserved for the customer when visiting a vehicle manufacturer’s website or a physical dealer.

In the White Room, we immersed ourselves in an experience in the world of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Some of us even had the chance to wear a headset and enjoy the experience of a virtual supermarket.
Finally, Alessandra Solazzi, Accenture’s Talent Acquisition Director, introduced us to the recruiting strategy, and the way in which Accenture connects talents to great innovation opportunities. If you think about it, this may also be a way for – why not? – being noticed by a potential employer. So my personal suggestion is to keep your resume constantly updated with the advanced tools offered by MIP and to be fully prepared for these events!

 

 

 

About the author
Andrea De Donatis

I am Andrea De Donatis, a student of the international part-time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. I Graduated in energy engineering and I am currently working in technical sales for a leading multinational electronics company based in Milan.
I am very passionate about technology, IT and digital marketing. I strongly believe that disruptive innovation is vital to create new value.

 

 

Artificial intelligence, human choices

“There are no bad students, only bad teachers”. A saying that’s perhaps not always true, but perfect for understanding the workings of Artificial Intelligence, something that for the public at large is still a mysterious subject and (for some) a bit worrisome. «Fearing AI and machine learning would be a mistakesays Fabio Moioli, director of the Enterprise Services Division of Microsoft Italia –. If artificial intelligence sometimes makes huge mistakes, for example when it analyses CVs using non-inclusive criteria, it’s not the fault of AI, but that of programmers who were responsible for training and probably didn’t consider certain variables. A human error, therefore, just like that which occurs in many other fundamental sectors».

So, not a racist AI, nor one that has a subconscious or will of its own, but a tool that instead should be used, taking into account its immense potential. «For this reason, it’s good – explains Moioli – to ask ourselves about the possible risks tied to the improper use of AI, as does Elon Musk, for example. Think of the impact atomic fission or gunpowder had on the world: there are aspects to which we must pay the maximum attention, like privacy, transparency, security, inclusiveness».

Companies know that most people, when they think of AI, often rely on imaginative, almost “apocalyptic” notions. Partially to contrast this trend, many companies directly involved in the AI sector, starting with Microsoft, «have internally set up ethical committees, disconnected from any evaluation of profit or marketing, which critically analyse and in many cases reject projects considered to be at risk. A theme that also interests our client companies a lot», adds Moioli.
And companies themselves are directly called on to evaluate and tap into the potential offered by AI: «It’s a  pervasive technology, that I’d call general purpose, like electricity – explains Moioli –. It can be used in any process: in interaction with clients, in the personalization of services, in the processing of products. But it can also revolutionise productive strategies, helping people to work better. Advantages that apply both to the blue-collar worker and to the engineer».

Advantages, above all, that thanks to recent developments can also be exploited by small and medium enterprises. Usually these firms can’t afford a team of data scientists, nor do they have the vast amounts of information available to larger companies. However, the situation is changing rapidly: «The fastest growing trend is that of AI that can learn more, but with the use of less data. Furthermore, increasingly popular are AI-based preconfigured cognitive service libraries, ready-to-use services (some examples: automatic translations, facial recognition, chatbots) that are highly customizable based on the needs of each individual entrepreneur. The other advantage is that in this case we don’t need real data science experts to programme everything from scratch, but easier to find and less specialized professionals are enough, such as software developers».

There’s no doubt, then, that technicians are needed. But Moioli also offers a suggestion to those who work or will work in corporate functions apparently not involved in this process of change: «Whether dealing with marketing, human resources or something else, a manager must always be aware of the potential offered by AI. He or she must know that certain tools exist and that they can improve his or her work». Thus, a widespread awareness that can’t be separated from training and education, at all levels. «In Italy there are a number of examples of sectoral excellence. FLEXA, the personalised and continuous learning digital platform of Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management, itself was designated by Microsoft as one of the most innovative projects in the world. Now, however, a lot of work also needs to be done in primary and secondary schools: in the future we’ll need professionals who speak the language of AI with increasing familiarity. This is the real priority».

 

 

 

 

Today’s Project Manager at the crossroads of  technology, experience, speed  

New technologies, Big Data and international dimensions are some of the factors that must be taken into account by today’s Project Manager, an often underestimated figure who, in the face of increasingly complex and fluid situations, takes on growing importance. We talked about this with Mauro Mancini, a professor of Project and Programme Management at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano.

«It’s good to be clear that project management is the management of people and information, and the era of digitalization we are going through is changing approaches and methods of interaction and communication between people – Professor Mancini explains –. The more a company is able to equip itself with project management tools that can benefit from all this, the more it will be able to effectively handle the continuous changes in its operating environment».

In this sense, Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be seen as an ally rather than a threat. «The quantity of data we must manage today is clearly higher than in the past. A Project Manager must be able to very quickly understand the situation, gather the greatest amount of data possible, verify its quality and process it to develop a tactical or strategic plan. Artificial Intelligence will be increasingly important for a Project Manager, who more and more will face unforeseen situations». But according to Mauro Mancini, the more qualitative part of work will remain the prerogative of man: «Artificial Intelligence carries out simulations based on the rules supplied by man, but it can’t predict the future. Who must manage a project needs for everything that respects past rules to be managed ‘automatically’, and in this AI is very useful, but the winning card as far as innovation or creativity is concerned will always be, in my view, in the hands of human intelligence».

The emphasis the society we live in places on speed, and the possibility, often offered by technology, to quickly experiment with solutions, is leading to the spread of the approach known as the “culture of failure,” whose sense is summed up in the English expression “Fast fail, cheap fail”. «It’s an approach that I totally agree with – says Mancini –. In some cultures, in particular the American one, if you’ve never failed, you’re not suitable for leading particularly complex and innovative processes, because never having failed means never having risked. Obviously a project needs all types of people: those who risk and conservatives. And the Project Manager must have the ability to understand those areas in which it’s right to make mistakes in order to learn quickly and others in which you need to be more careful».

The question of speed is also tied in part to another much debated issue in this period, that of the right mix between soft and hard skills in managerial positions. Rapid changes in scenarios – in the market or a single project – require adaptability and learning, while at the same time the specialized skills required of those who work (especially in hi-tech) are also changing quickly. «One of the tasks of the Project Manager – explains Mancini – is that of understanding very quickly the technical expertise necessary for a specific project (hard skills). Soft skills, which I prefer to call behavioural skills, right now are the subject of great attention in Europe. Also in this case there’s the time factor: they are skills that, for the very reason that they’re ‘soft’, are stimulated daily from an early age. Industrial sectors are characterized by different degrees of technical complexity, but in order for a Project Manager to know how to judge the correctness of the answer to the fundamental question ‘how much time is needed to do this activity?’ independently of the fact that it is asked to internal or external human resources, it’s necessary that he’s done this activity himself or, at least, has all the elements to rapidly verify (often in real time) the correctness of the response.
For a Project Manager, having technical expertise doesn’t mean knowing how to design a component, a system or an organization, but knowing and/or quickly assimilating the rules of the game of the context in which he finds himself».

Among behavioural skills, intercultural ones are destined to become increasingly important. «We increasingly find ourselves dealing with projects in which the people involved come from completely different cultures. In different countries, relational capabilities can leverage off technically instruments that are diametrically opposed to one’s own culture. So we must increasingly be able to interact with ways of thinking and behaviours that are very different from ours, that can hide values that are equally diverse».

 

 

 

 

What Jobs Will Survive Artificial Intelligence?

“We want to bring intelligence to everything, to everywhere, and for everyone”. The person who said it is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, the company that recently launched the “Zo” chatbot that can construct sophisticated human-machine dialogues. And it’s through Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI) instruments that the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano developed FLEXA, an innovative and revolutionary digital platform of personalized and continuous learning, a digital mentor able to identify and select specific contents, useful for the path of study of each user.

«This project, but the idea applies to Artificial Intelligence in general, began from an awareness: we had identified certain needs and technology could help us to satisfy them – says Federico Frattini, Associate Dean of Digital Transformation at MIP Politecnico di Milano and creator of FLEXA –. Specifically, our Masters students wanted to know each other better, also from a comparative point of view, to then pursue ad hoc training programmes, while our alumni, our former students, asked us for effective continuous learning solutions. We reasoned on the basis of these inputs and the result was FLEXA: on this platform it’s possible to carry out an assessment of one’s soft, hard and digital skills and declare one’s career ambitions; once all this information is processed, FLEXA provides all the indications to fill these skill gaps through events, courses and training programmes on the basis of the needs indicated. And it doesn’t only provide contents from Politecnico di Milano: we have agreements with Gartner, New York Times, Financial Times, MIT and many other prestigious groups. With FLEXA, it will also be possible to have a mentor recommended, create a matching system with startups and companies, create new contents».

One of the points on which the debate is understandably most heated involves the impact artificial intelligence will have on employment. In addition to more mechanical and repetitive jobs, such as those carried out by assembly line workers and, as already mentioned, driving cars and some activities in restaurants and supermarkets, automation is also entering the field of services. According to some studies, for example, by 2030 there will no longer be “human” call centres, while in Japan many robots are already operational in assisting the elderly.

On the other hand, artificial intelligence has limits that in many cases prevent it from substituting human jobs. At the same time, the role technology can play in supporting and strengthening humans in carrying out some higher-skill activities may be underrated. The renowned Chinese artificial expert Kai-Fu Lee, a businessman involved in this very sector and the author of the recent book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, identifies four weaknesses of AI for work performance:

  1. AI cannot create, conceptualize or manage complex strategic planning;
  2. AI cannot accomplish complex work that requires precise hand-eye coordination;
  3. AI cannot deal with unknown and unstructured spaces, especially ones that it hasn’t observed;
  4. AI cannot, unlike humans, feel or interact with empathy and compassion; therefore, it is unlikely that humans would opt for interacting with an apathetic robot for traditional communication services.

Given this premise, Kai-Fu Lee draws up a list of ten professions that will be immune from the robotic invasion, at least in the next 15 years: psychiatry, physical therapy, medicine, AI-related research and engineering, fiction writing, teaching, law, computer science and engineering, science, and management. In all these professions AI can be of help, but only in a collaborative sense for the management of certain technical details.

 “There’s no doubt that the AI revolution will require readjustments and a great deal of sacrifice” affirms Kai-Fu Lee, “but despairing rather than preparing for what’s come is unproductive and, perhaps, even reckless”.

And then he concludes: “We must remember that our human knack for compassion and empathy is going to be a valuable asset in the future workforce, and that jobs hinged on care, creativity, and education, will remain vital to our society”.

«I believe that the best way to approach artificial intelligence is to tie it in with theories explaining innovation and entrepreneurship – says Federico Frattini –. We can define it as an accelerator of processes of creative destruction determined by digital innovation, taking inspiration from what the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter said about the big changes that had an impact on the economy and on society: new opportunities are created, new companies and new professions are created, others evolve and still others, inevitably, disappear. We certainly can’t oppose the creative forces that have changed society over the centuries».