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Leveraging Conversational AI in Procurement

Why is Conversational AI Crucial for Digital Business? 

Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a sophisticated application of AI that enables computers to simulate human-like conversations. It manifests as a text conversation between human and machine, akin to a chatbot conversation. Conversational AI powers a variety of digital tools that we engage with daily, ranging from voice assistants, such as Alexa and Siri to customer support chatbots.  However, true Conversational AI does not rely on rule-based responses alone. It learns from interactions with users and adapts its responses to the user’s prompts.

Does this remind you of a recent, familiar, global phenomenon? ChatGPT is the foremost example of conversational AI, used by millions everyday to explore more about the world around them. However, ChatGPT is more commonly used as Generative AI (AI that can generate new content based on prompts).  

As digital business eco-system continues to evolve, the relevance of Conversational AI has amplified, transitioning from a technological novelty to a business necessity. Businesses adopting this technology are experiencing improved customer service, enhanced operational efficiency, and increased competitiveness due to the automation and streamlining of numerous tasks. 

What Makes Conversational AI so Powerful and Versatile? 

The strength of Conversational AI lies in its ability to comprehend, mimic, and interact using human language. This prowess is achieved through a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning and deep learning algorithms.
The AI is trained on large models consisting of data from several real human conversations, and pertinent knowledge. 

The technology can process context, decipher commands, respond to inquiries, and even learn from previous interactions to improve future engagements. Furthermore, its inherent scalability and constant availability ensure that customer inquiries are addressed at any time, consequently improving the user experience. 

How is Conversational AI Transforming the Procurement Landscape?

Procurement, an integral yet intricate business function, presents a ripe field for innovation. In its current state, procurement practitioners are often caught up in highly tactical & transactional activities such as responding to supplier enquiries, manual purchasing, ensuring compliant buying, tracking & follow-ups, and catalog navigation. 

These comprise roughly 60% of a practitioner’s daily tasks. 

Conversational AI in procurement can easily step in to automate routine tasks, reducing errors, and augmenting efficiency. By deploying Conversational AI, businesses can streamline procurement processes from sourcing to supplier communication and invoice management. It can also assist with data-driven insights, optimizing vendor selection, identifying cost-saving opportunities, and enhancing purchasing decisions. 

It basically facilitates ease of use, ease of access, and improved collaboration. 

For business users (non-procurement users), a conversational AI tool can provide a smooth, simple interface, for a ‘Guided Buying’ experience, akin to asking Alexa to help purchase your next mobile phone. 

What Does the Future Hold for Procurement in the Age of Conversational AI? 

With evolving technology, the future of procurement looks promising. As Conversational AI’s capabilities grow, we can expect further streamlining and automation of procurement processes. 

Future developments could include chatbots that negotiate with suppliers, AI systems predicting market trends for more strategic procurement, and much more. The potential for growth is vast, given the continuous advancements in AI and machine learning. 

Zycus’ Merlin Assist 

Zycus is proud to present its cutting-edge Conversational AI tool that elevates Guided Buying to another level. A few capabilities Merlin Assist boasts of include: 

  • Seamlessly executes frequent/routine tasks  
  • Creates and tracks fulfillment of purchase requisitions and orders 
  • Facilitates guided compliance with purchasing & payment policies 
  • Curates & sends notifications on otherwise tactical items such as approvals and scoring events 
  • Fosters easy collaboration with procurement team. 

What does this mean for procurement leaders? 

  • Reduced workload on procurement teams, taking away a major chunk of transactional & uncritical items. 
  • More time for procurement teams to work on higher-priority items 
  • Fewer costs – due to operational efficiency, increased productivity, and reduction in manual errors. 
  • Improved reputation – internally, with business users & upper management, as well as externally, with perceived innovation & technology adoption. 

Want to see Merlin Assist in action, and put it to work yourself?

Visit the Merlin Experience Center and see our B2B Enterprise-grade Chatbot take the wheel, for a unique ‘guided buying’ experience. 

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