Business buyers are bringing their consumer shopping expectations into the workplace, demanding the same levels of choice, convenience and personalized support. These were two of the seeming contradictory conclusions I drew after listening to several procurement experts at a roundtable during the SAP Ariba Live event who sat down to talk about how consumerization is changing B2B procurement. Led by Johann Wrede, Global Vice President of Strategic Marketing at SAP Hybris, the roundtable was called, "Buyers and Suppliers Debate Disruption, Consumerization, and Other Trends." The ingredients of a delightful B2B shopping experience depend on what you're selling. "In the oil and gas industry, many contracts are still face-to-face and written on paper.
Accenture is a company passionate about digital procurement. In a recent report, the global management consultancy made no bones about the disappointment it feels at what it perceives as an almost industry-wide failure to embrace the technologies available for digitising procurement. It states that "procurement organisation has been largely left behind in the digital revolution. The report looks at how bots can be used to automate and streamline manual or routine procurement tasks, how making use of available expertise such as speaking to buying agents and advisors will help people make the best purchasing decisions and deliver optimal value to the business. Accenture specialises in helping procurement companies to digitise their business operations, and the report shows confidence that the familiar frustrations surrounding procurement today will give way to a simple and intuitive buying experience for users to enthusiastically embrace.
We hear a lot about how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are disrupting the future of work, but very often this is a high-level narrative that doesn't dive into specifics in terms of the enterprise business functions being most impacted. In this article, we'll look specifically at the procurement function to examine how and where business processes are being transformed – and even disrupted – and some of the most impactful technologies involved. These include AI/ML, predictive analytics, blockchain and IoT, as well as AR/VR and intelligent agents. While procurement might be one of the last places you'd expect to find digital transformation, the fact is that it's well underway and a sizable organisational opportunity for unlocking cost savings and operational efficiencies. By way of example, the Ariba Network supports over 3.4 million companies in over 190 countries and conducts over $2.1 trillion in commerce annually.
The digitization of business is taking hold. From machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to blockchain, cloud and networks, digital technologies are opening the door to new, more efficient and intelligent ways of operating. And nowhere is this more evident than in procurement. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence have made their way into procurement applications and are fueling smarter, faster decisions. A new breed of cognitive technologies promises to push things even further.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning are everywhere, and they are ushering in momentous change, altering the way we shop for and consume goods and services in our personal lives. They are also having a tremendous impact on businesses – particularly in the way that buying and selling get done. So what exactly are these technologies? Among the most promising and fast-developing applications of AI is machine learning. And just as its name suggests, it is where computers learn to perform tasks without having been programmed specifically to do them.