Procurement & Artificial Intelligence Part 2 of 2
What can I do to leverage AI and Blockchain in my business? Where should I start?
Our last post highlighted the buzz behind innovative technologies and how they will impact Procurement. You can check it out here. Today’s post will detail more about how you can apply these technologies to your department and company. It is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Machine learning and AI are quickly rising within enterprises, creating new possibilities but also changes in required skills. Blockchain has the potential to change contracting, impacting the life of many procurement professionals. As procurement departments are making adoption of these technologies a priority, education becomes key.
Step 1: Learn the new lingo and concepts.
Understanding the keywords will help you get closer to being part of the conversation. Below are a few key words:
- Deep Learning Platforms – The most advanced Machine Learning Platforms based on algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural.
- Natural Language Processing – The ability of a computer program to understand and interpret human speech as it is spoken. This is the technology Siri, Alexa and Cortana are based on.
- Virtual Agents – A computer generated, artificial intelligence virtual character that can lead an intelligent conversation with users and performs adequate non-verbal behavior. This is an advanced version of the chatbots.
- Distributed Ledger – A type of database that is shared, replicated, and synchronized among the members of a network. The ledger records the transactions among the participants in the network.
- Smart Contracts – Software-based agreements based on blockchain deployed in systems capable of automatically executing and enforcing the terms of the contracts.
Step 2: Develop basic knowledge.
Procurement professionals should to start learning about these topics now to develop basic knowledge. IBM has some good educational resources to start:
- Click for a beginner’s guide to artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Click for additional blockchain resources
For the coming years, only large companies will have the size necessary to develop internal solutions for AI and blockchain. Most will be developed by third parties such as IBM or Accenture so there is limited need to deep knowledge. Many procurement software providers and third-party services providers are focusing resources in on these new concepts, incorporating them in their existing solutions or developing entirely new offerings. Use these external service providers to gain additional knowledge, understand what various applications are and imagine solutions to apply to your environment and needs.
Step 3: Get adjacent departments on board.
The aforementioned should start the discussion with their IT and/or analytics departments and see what work is currently being conducted or looked at. All efforts around these technologies will be cross-functional enterprise level projects. Assessing and selecting solutions for procurement will require involving a lot of disciplines (technology, finance, legal, data science, etc). Reaching a common understanding early on will help speed up adoption and set up your company for success.