ters. Although a crucial way for organizations to stay
ahead of the tech curve, research can be costly and
there’s no guarantee it will pay off, he says. “There’s
uncertainty to the customer and to the project own-
ers,” Mr. Bódogh says. “It’s a great frustration.”
And because artificial intelligence is a new realm
for many stakeholders, setting customer expecta-
tions can be tough, Ms. Lienert adds.
“Sometimes when you get into the nitty-gritty
details, it doesn’t quite take you where you expect
it to,” she says. “Sometimes you have to tell your
shareholders, ‘Look, this is the direction that we’re
going. We can continue down this road, but we
found another area that’s pretty interesting.’”
AI projects also must grapple with a scarcity
of talent. As technological advances accelerate,
finding team members with up-to-date AI exper-
tise can be so tough that smaller companies like
Xdroid opt to partner with research companies
rather than hire on their own. Other firms, includ-
ing IntelliGenesis, foot training costs themselves.
Whither the Worker?
External stakeholders are also concerned about
how AI products will impact the job market.
Sophisticated AI systems are working their way
into traditionally white-collar fields including
medicine, finance, marketing, journalism and law.
Research from the University of Oxford estimates
that as much as 47 percent of American jobs could
be automated by 2033, a huge shift in the economy
that would potentially leave millions unemployed.
Some experts argue that AI won’t so much obliterate the job market as disrupt it, forcing people to
Regardless of the impact AI projects eventually
have on the workforce, some organizations and
project managers have had to address employees’
fears. Successfully responding to this stakeholder
challenge is tougher than building an algorithm
that can predict human behavior, Ms. Lienert says.
People need to “understand that we’re not trying
to replace people, that we’re trying to get the software to the point where it can make [employees]
more effective,” she says. “There’s no reason that
software and other things can’t handle a lot of the
menial tasks so that people can get to a higher level
of analysis and efficiency.” —Christina Couch
AI is “in
you use now.
It’s in our
cars, it’s in
it’s on our
—Angie Lienert, PMP,
Columbia, Maryland, USA
Some air traffic control towers could soon
become obsolete. Last year, after completing a project implementing Saab’s Remote
Tower services system, Sweden’s tiny Örnsköldsvik Airport became the first airport to
allow air traffic controllers to work remotely.
Employees show up for work at a larger airport 100 kilometers ( 62 miles) away and do
their job using cameras, microphones and
signal light guns installed at Örnsköldsvik.
They look at panoramic monitors and listen
to stereo sound systems.
“For the air traffic controller, this is like
airline pilots going from propeller to jet,”
Remote Tower system project manager
Mikael Henriksson told NPR. “It’s a para-
In August, Leesburg Executive Airport in
Virginia, USA began a 15-week project to test
Saab’s system after a 15-week installation
phase. It’s the first U.S. site to use the tech-
nology. (The technology has also been tested
at Australian and Norwegian airports.)
By creating a network of airports operated from one location, the technology
can reduce building costs and the number
of employees needed at small and secluded facilities. For Saab, the Leesburg airport
project is a proving ground that could lead
to more U.S. business. “We want to build
confidence with the [Federal Aviation
Administration] to show that this can
work as advertised instead of a traditional
brick-and-mortar air traffic tower,” Saab
Vice President and Head of Communications John Belanger told Leesburg Today.
While initial trials are being held at
small airports, larger projects could bring
the remote technology to big, high-traffic
airports over time. But for such initiatives
to get the green light, international aviation agencies would have to approve of
controllers directing air traffic at multiple
airports. If that happens, project budgets
are likely to be a bit bigger than what
Leesburg paid to enable testing: US$2,000
for two phone lines and electricity.