Some (Expanded) Predictions, 2017

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We will begin to talk about ‘driverless management’ as a meaningful and measurable trend.

I selected a subset of the predictions I made in Some Predictions, 2017 over at, leaving out politics and economics, and expanding the ideas that are more suited to Work Futures.

Work chat will continue to dominate the market for enterprise ‘collaboration’, and AI-based ‘team members’ with deep learning skill sets will become commonplace, building on chatbot models of interaction but assuming larger roles in project management, development, marketing, and HR. Slack is acquired by Amazon for $35 billion, and loosely integrated into AWS.

The growing central importance of mobile devices, and with the conversational user experience taking center stage, means that the stage has been set for AI chatbots with specialized skills to assist teams working in chat space. Those specialized skills will start with things that assistants might do — like following up on meeting action items, arranging travel, and code review — but quickly will expanding into full partner roles, and, for example, could take on coaching to help people decide which task is highest priority based on network analysis across the team or company.

This leads to my boldest prediction: driverless management.

The hottest business trend of 2017 will be AI-based ‘driverless management’, displacing Holacracy and other management ‘business operating systems’ fads. AI will play a significantly larger role in areas that human cognitive biases are most problematic, like hiring and promotion, decision support, and ensuring diversity, equality, and well-being in the workplace. (Daemon (via Daniel Saurez) meets the workplace.) Several unknown start-ups will lead this new exploding sector.

I expect to see various culture management and business analytics companies back into driverless management a baby step at a time. For example, imagine if Trello, Asana, Atlassian, Github, or Mavenlink— or an integration partner of theirs — applied deep learning to analysis of tens of thousands of projects managed in a work management tool, and with that (and other knowledge) they could develop a bot to help manage projects better. For example, a Scrum or Agile bot, or a Sales Strategy bot.

Decision making is an area that human biases play a major role, for example, so training AIs to determine better ways of hiring or promoting people could make a huge difference, especially for those with limited exposure to these activities.

One step at a time, I expect to see dozens of bots in 2017 that encroach on traditional management prerogatives, and this will happen quickly enough that we will begin to talk about ‘driverless management’ as a meaningful and measurable trend.

Originally published at

Written by

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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