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Global forum in Riyadh spotlights AI’s role in revolutionizing project management

Margarete Schramboeck, board member at Aramco Digital, speaking to Arab News. Huda Bashatah/AN
Margarete Schramboeck, board member at Aramco Digital, speaking to Arab News. Huda Bashatah/AN
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03 Jun 2024 03:06:02 GMT9
03 Jun 2024 03:06:02 GMT9

Ghadi Joudah

RIYADH: Artificial intelligence is emerging as the most integral tool for accelerating project management, signaling a big change in the sector, stated a senior Aramco official at an industry gathering in Riyadh.

Margarete Schramboeck, board member at Aramco Digital and former minister of Economy and Digital Affairs of Austria, said the energy firm is always at the forefront when it comes to partnerships, with many of these in cybersecurity, industrial automation, and telecom.

She shared her insights during an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Global Project Management Forum held in Riyadh from June 2 to 3 – an event which is set to attract more than 2,000 attendees.

Reflecting on the growing use of advanced technology in the industry, Schramboeck said: “New forms of generative AI help us in all the process implementations, (and) inclusive AI means a completely new way of tackling projects.”

Speaking at the forum during a panel discussion titled “Opportunities and Success Factors in Giga Projects,” Ghanem Al-Mohammadi, former minister of municipal and rural affairs, challenged the traditional definition of giga-projects in urban development. He argued that it should consider interconnectedness, transformational impact, and sustainability. 

“People would gauge a project based on cost, but I would define a giga-project by its interconnectedness as a project that serves a city and can drive transformational growth,” he remarked.

Al-Mohammadi added: “Not only does it share complexity, but it also shares many attributes like stakeholder management and communication.” 

Participating in the discussion, Saadi Adra, CEO of Advisors, noted that managing 400 relatively small projects collectively adds up to the complexity of a giga-project.

While there isn’t a solid definition of giga-projects, Hesham Al-Babtain, EPMO general manager at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, noted that the term gained popularity locally with Saudi Vision 2030’s large-scale projects such as NEOM and Qiddiya. 

In 2020, a royal order was issued to merge the Ministry of Civil Service with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, forming the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. 

“Since then, we reached 2.2 million with the labor market, the unemployment rate decreased to 7.7 percent, and women’s participation in the labor market exceeded 35 percent,” said Al-Babtain.  

Laura Barnard, chief impact driver of PMO Strategies, emphasized the importance of ensuring that people understand that the most significant aspect is not the financial cost, but rather the positive impacts on society and the world through outcomes. 

“When you talk to business leaders, they are saying I’m willing to spend more or take longer if you can promise me that we’re going to get those even bigger, better business outcomes, change the world for the better, no matter what project it is,” he said. 

Benjamin Breen, global director of construction and vice president of Asia Pacific at the Project Management Institute, noted that “the definition of project success has evolved, moving beyond traditional metrics like time, cost, and quality.” 

He emphasized the need to redefine success, citing the Sydney Opera House as an example of a project with lasting impact despite initial challenges. 

The Global Project Management Forum serves as the flagship event for the profession, and showcases experts and industry leaders discussing the latest trends and topics in the sector, as well as emerging technologies and innovation.

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