Can Emerging Technologies Make Procurement More Agile?
Long, manual processes still dominate procurement today. Oftentimes, monotonous and effortful labor-intensive transactional activities increase the size of the procurement time window – resulting in an inefficient service. In order to reinvent procurement and adapt to the evolving business needs of today and tomorrow, many companies have now digitized procurement in an attempt to expedite these cumbersome processes. But is speed enough in today’s uncertain business climate?
No – and this is why the following 3 technologies are being touted as the next big thing in procurement for increased efficiency and agility:
Machine Learning: Implementing machine learning technology could speed up procurement processes, assist procurement executives in pushing tasks forward, identifying errors and inconsistencies. This can be achieved by incorporating ML-powered virtual assistants including chat-bots or prompts within tasks. According to a research director at Gartner, "It’s like Turbo Tax for procurement where it asks you a series of simple questions and helps predict how you’re going to respond and gets you to the point of order faster.” https://www.gartner.com/en Although machine learning has far bigger uses, it can play a huge role in this realm by simply removing human error from processes – less human error means faster operations which contributes to increased ‘agility’.
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Natural Language Processing: The procurement process involves numerous long-winded documents, agreements, and conditions; reviewing these documents quickly is crucial to get the goods moving. NLP-enabled solutions can help extract the required information from text-heavy files, decipher the meaning and provide actionable insights – saving procurement officials a lot of time. It can also take questions and provide additional data and insights (think of it as the Siri of procurement). NLP-enabled solutions can also identify invoice abnormalities and even fraud. Further, they could contribute to 10-15% savings eventually as it would have more data to compare against and enable procurement executives to create complex comparison reports easily. This would increase the efficiency of a procurement team without increasing the team size.
Big Data Analytics: The idea of big data analytics is to analyze large volumes of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights – this allows an organization to predict better and anticipate; be it the cost of raw material, potential natural disasters or shortages. This is bound to give a competitive advantage to firms by virtue of being prepared and also enable them to manage risk better. Since big data increases the facts, data (quantitative and qualitative) and contextual information available to a firm, it consequentially improves the decision-making process. It is also likely to decrease costs and increase value in procurement functions as the process gets more optimized as more data points are collected and analyzed with time.
In a nutshell, companies with a high performing, agile procurement process observe early growth and gain competitive advantage. All it takes is a technology makeover to be ahead of the game. Is your company also considering procurement agility? We are here to help. Get in touch to redefine procurement for your business.
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