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23 November 2016

Big data and AI "set to transform procurement"

Content team

Business procurement functions will undergo some significant changes over the coming years as a result of the growing significance of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, recent research has suggested.

Wax Digital, an e-procurement firm, gathered the views of technology experts and procurement leaders to inform the first part of its Future Technology 2020 report. Participants were asked about how they expect technology in this area of business to evolve and how companies can prepare for these changes.

One of the key forecasts was that big data and AI will merge to make procurement processes "truly intelligent". By analysing large amounts of information and various trends, automated systems will effectively be able to make their own decisions.

Wax Digital stressed that this won't make procurement professionals redundant, but will have a big impact on their roles. People working in this field are likely to see cognitive technologies playing a more important role in the sourcing and purchasing workflow.

Jurgita Andrijauskaite, former global e-sourcing manager at CEVA Logistics, said: "Data will be more important than ever but there will be less need for reporting and analytics. Cognitive AI systems will do that for us.

"For example, they will advise us on how we could divide business amongst supply partners and what the potential implications of doing so will be, not just from a cost perspective but everything - risk, customer satisfaction, quality, and so on."

One of the biggest perceived advantages of integrating big data analytics into procurement systems is better prediction of the company's needs, based on factors such as spend history, seasonality and environmental conditions.

It's also possible that AI could be used to improve supplier risk management through more rigorous monitoring of supplier behaviours or performance based on buyer feedback.

Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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