For AI to add value in purchasing, organizations must create a technological foundation and use the full spectrum of IT tools. Doing so is a multi-stage process that successively creates the necessary level of maturity: getting the right data accessible across the entire procurement organization; automating the basics of the workflow, whereby a combination of cloud-based enterprise resource planning systems and state-of-the-art supplier relationship management suites usually makes sense; and adding robotic process automation for repetitive tasks.
With these capabilities in place, truly cognitive artificial solutions can be used, or companies can combine AI with supply chain management to open up new horizons that can boost efficiency and performance in purchasing. The trend is clearly being recognized: In Roland Berger’s survey of 87 CPOs of Global Fortune 500 companies, 67% of the CPOs ranked AI as one of their top 3 priorities for the next 10 years.
But as companies build their technological foundations, they must be aware of the soft factors that can quickly become hard show-stoppers. When the pure technology or product perspective dominates, companies may ignore the cultural, political or organizational factors to their own peril. In other cases, companies at the frontier of implementing AI at a strategic level may struggle to accept blurring lines between consumers and providers, technology specialists and business executives, and internal and external teams.
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