Autonomous procurement platforms ‘reality by 2025’
Spend management company Jaggaer has revealed the findings of the company’s latest white paper, titled: The Journey to Autonomous Procurement.
In it, JAGGAER has highlighted the need for procurement professionals to embrace the latest technologies to ready themselves for autonomous procurement.
Underscoring the importance of businesses developing a digital strategy now in preparation for autonomous procurement, are the four levels of digital procurement companies must progress through to get there.
These include automation built on assistive intelligence, augmented procurement built on augmented intelligence, intelligent procurement built on cognitive intelligence, and autonomous procurement built on autonomous intelligence.
Thomas Dieringer, President, JAGGAER EMEA, said: “It is imperative companies adapt and realise the potential value autonomous procurement can offer. Time is of the essence, and organisations must start to progress through each level of digital procurement, otherwise, they face the genuine prospect of falling a decade behind their competitors.
"A truly autonomous procurement solution will have cognitive capabilities embedded throughout the platform, while building on those capabilities to automate entire sourcing and procurement processes without any buyer interference when the opportunity arises, creating long-term results and freeing procurement teams to focus on strategic work and analysis that provide even greater business value.”
The characteristics associated with each level of digitalisation required to achieve autonomous procurement are outlined throughout the report. Automation built on assistive intelligence is a type of system that can automate repetitive and standardised tasks performed by humans, with all aspects of procurement digitised, with nothing done on paper outside the system.
Augmented procurement is defined as a system that can learn from human feedback and provide better insights and recommendations over time on one or more specific tasks. The third level of digital procurement, intelligence, is a system that can learn from humans and then adapt its behaviours and recommendations across real-world situations to mimic the performance of the best human experts over time.
The final level, autonomous procurement built on autonomous intelligence, is a system that can learn from humans and adapt its behaviours using cognitive abilities and learn and adapt to new tasks and situations like an expert would without having to kick up an exception for human review.
According to the white paper, there are currently several digital procurement solutions on the market today that claim to use Artificial Intelligence (AI), when they simply mimic it using classical statistical approaches, ultimately delaying a company’s journey to autonomous procurement.
Further underscoring the issue is the recent study by venture capital firm MCC. It found that 40% of European startups that are classified as AI companies do not use artificial intelligence in a way that is 'material' to their businesses. Several products on the procurement market claim to use modern solutions but merely digitised manual processes.
“Autonomous procurement will only be recognised when we incorporate true machine intelligence – where the machine learns from the user and makes standard buys on behalf of them. Years of categorised and verified data is required to achieve this, combined with years of decisions based on that data, as well as real-time guidance and correction. Building this foundation of good and reliable data takes time, which is why organisations need to start today to reap the rewards” added Dieringer.
“Procurement managers are undoubtedly standing on the threshold of a new age. The old paradigm of cost reduction and cost efficiencies is drawing to a close, new and revolutionary concepts are now leading the way,” he concluded.