The Power of Innovation

Posted by Warren Linscott on November 19, 2019

Deltek Insight 2019 By Warren Linscott, SVP Product Strategy, Deltek

What Will the Future Look Like?

As humans, we have been trying to predict what will come tomorrow and beyond. And as project-based businesses, many of you have a routine task of predicting the future needs of your company, projects, and customers. But predicting the future can be challenging with so many variables involved. 

By 2028 all of the Silent Generation, more than half of today’s Baby Boomers and several million of Generation X, will have exited the workforce. Meaning that, 56% of the total remaining workforce, will be made up of Millennials and Generation Z.

With these generational shifts come changes in business expectations. These new generations will expect their systems to be more usable, with basic tasks fully automated and transparent to them. They are expecting a more digitally connected business world, with smarter analytics that help them see patterns and information without doing the analysis and systems to tell them where they should go and what they should do. 

So how does your company stay competitive? The next decade will give rise to three major changes in how the workforce and businesses within it will be transformed by technology.

How Deltek is Preparing for the Future:

Workforce 3.0

You might be thinking, Workforce 3.0? What is Workforce 2.0?  We are currently in Workforce 2.0, working from anywhere, always connected, managing your business lives through the use of data. The current state of digital transformation in business has made all of this possible, but that is already starting to change.

Software automation has been around for a while now but in recent years by incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), has given rise to Robotic Process Automation (RPA). You can think of this as light or codeless automation where there are tools to help you create a bot that can carry out repetitive tedious tasks, such as copying an invoice from an email inbox to a server, reading that document through Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and then entering the information into your ERP. This is a task that happens over and over again and is a perfect application for RPA.

This is where Workforce 3.0 comes in, incorporating RPA “bots” into the workforce. Companies that embrace this change and leverage this technology will be able to grow more efficiently than those that do not. The competitive nature of your business will be a reflection of your bot workforce in many areas. 

According to the U.S, Department of labor there will be approximately 210,000,000 workers available for the workforce in the United States. How many bots will be alongside the human workforce in 10 years? Five million? Probably more like 50 or 100 million. Many people are talking about the threat this poses to the workforce, but I don’t see it that way. RPA is helping to take routine tasks out of people’s hands, so they can focus their brain power on more important tasks. RPA companies routinely report employee satisfaction going up when they deploy bots because people aren’t spending their time our routine repetitive tasks. Instead of asking if your job will be replaced by bots, you should be asking, "What could a bot do for me so that I can spend more time adding value to my company, spending more time advancing my career,  continuing my education, or spending time with my family and loved ones?"

So what is Deltek doing to help? Deltek is partnering with UiPath, one of the premier RPA solutions providers in the world through Alirrium one of their gold implementation partners specializing in financial & accounting processes, fraud detection and compliance. This partnership will provide our customers access to experts in the field to help you think about and execute on strategies to leverage this emerging technology so that you can stay competitive and gain efficiencies in your business.

Industry Automation

While bots will help companies do more with the same or less resources there is still a ton of waste in the way they operate with in an industry. Most government contracts, buildings, oil rigs, or creative campaigns don’t happen with just a single company. It takes a number of companies working together to pull off many of the projects they work on. But there is a barrier that prevents true end-to-end industry automation. Fortunately now there is now a technology that can help solve this problem.

Most of us know about blockchain because of cryptocurrency. But blockchain is not cryptocurrency – instead, it is a technology that enables trusted parties to self-regulate the exchange and holdings of that currency. 

If we leverage blockchain’s secure distrusted ledger capabilities we can have a shared, secure, transaction ledger between two companies. When private blockchain solutions become common place in ERP solutions, companies will be able to eliminate waste within the industry supply chain. They can eliminate dual entry because they will have a copy of each transaction. They can drive automation within their company’s business process to fulfill transactions on each end, fully automating it from end-to-end.

So what is Deltek doing to put you on the path to industry automation? Earlier this year we released the first version of the Costpoint Supplier portal and it will serve as a blueprint for like portals in other Deltek solutions. As we build out our Supplier portal technology we will be looking to create a private blockchain solution that can be leveraged to create a more secure and trusted digital relationship between companies.

Evolving The Company Brain

The "Company Brain" is how your business makes decisions, creates plans and executes them. With Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning tools rapidly becoming mainstream and more accessible to businesses than ever, leveraging this type of data gives us better analytics and visualizations of how our business operates.

Machine Learning makes AI more capable of interpreting and cataloging results, finding hidden patterns in data and executing on decisions made by humans. But to make AI more accurate we need to leverage data a bit differently. Behind every good AI will be a large amount of data necessary to teach a neural network how to catalog and correlate data, so that we can leverage it to predict what will happen next and ultimately allow it to make decisions on our behalf.

When you think about your project-based business and then layer in a possible ML/AI solutions on top, you can begin to see how decision making will shift towards AI. Ultimately this creates a neural network that understands all of the characteristics of projects that you have won and lost, which ones are profitable or not.

So the evolution of the company brain inevitably will have both humans and AI calling the shots and those companies that have the best AI will have the competitive advantage.

Next year, Deltek is releasing Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), which is the fusion of OCR technologies and Machine Learning. This will make capturing expenses not only easy, but more accurate over time. In addition, we are starting to build a neural network for predicting project success that will give you insights into your projects based on all of your historical performance and that can be tailored to the way your business executes projects. Deltek also just released the first version of Acumen Touchstone, which will be the basis for schedule intelligence within your company that can help you guide your schedule and the schedules of your suppliers towards great projects.

So what about the evolution of the Company Brain? We are beginning to create and teach several neural networks across the project lifecycle to predict win\loss, help you resource plan, create a best employee profile to inform hiring decisions, and to predict project success. This will give our customers the solutions needed to help them make AI-assisted decisions by evolving the Company Brain from being purely human to being a mix of human and machine decision making.

So although we cannot predict the future, we do believe that these emerging technologies will forever change the future of business. To learn more about these and other innovative technologies, join the #DeltekProjectNation to learn more about the latest trends, technology and issues shaping project-based businesses. 

 

About the Author

As the SVP of Product Strategy, Warren Linscott is responsible for driving the go-to-market and product strategy for Deltek's global business. Warren has over 20 years of senior management experience in enterprise software delivering key solutions to professional services firms and government contractors. Connect with Warren on LinkedIn.