How Automation Technology Empowers the Procurement of the Future

In our last blog post, we looked at five trends which are currently redefining the procurement landscape. In this article, we delve into the future of procurement, exploring how automation technology will reshape this critical business function. The procurement sector stands at the cusp of an exciting future, marked by innovation, digitalisation, and a strategic focus on value creation. The function of procurement will extend beyond transactional activities to become a strategic business partner as well as an influential driver of competitive advantage and business growth. What role will automation technology play in this development? How will sophisticated automation solutions shape the future of procurement and empower procurement to meet emerging requirements and exploit new opportunities?  


 The Future of Procurement: New Requirements and Chances

Risk mitigation, sustainability, ethics, and innovative partnerships are key factors poised to shape the future of the procurement sector. In a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, effective risk management will be more crucial than ever. Future procurement strategies will need to be resilient, agile, adaptable, capable of mitigating risks and capitalising on opportunities in a fluctuating global environment.As ESG factors will be even more prominent, procurement strategies will need to fully integrate sustainability. This will involve assessing suppliers’ ESG performance, prioritising sustainable sourcing, and contributing to the organisation’s overall sustainability goals.Ethical considerations in procurement will have gained more prominence in the future. This involves ensuring fair trade, preventing corruption, and promoting diversity and inclusion in the supply chain. Moreover, the future of procurement will see a shift towards more collaborative and innovative supplier relationships. By leveraging suppliers’ expertise and innovation capabilities, procurement will drive value creation and competitive advantage for the organisation. 

Automation Technology Defines the Procurement of the Future

Document processing is the backbone of all procurement processes. The efficiency and accuracy of document processing are central to the overall resilience and effectiveness of the procurement processThe question of whether data from documents is extracted and processed correctly is crucial, because data quality in procurement significantly affects downstream processes within an organisation and the supply chain.  

Automation technology is the means to meet all the environmental, social, ethical and economic requirements mentioned above and to successfully transform procurement and its role along the supply chain. Automation technology will empower the procurement of the future. It will define how procurement professionals will work and how procurement processes will look like as it will enhance operational efficiency, reduce manual activities and therefore errors, and enable a more strategic use of human resources.    

These Automation Technologies Will Shape Procurement in the Future

Artificial Intelligence

Through artificial intelligence (AI), software solutions are equipped with intellectual capacities by mirroring human abilities like reasoning and learning from past experiences. AI-driven automation tools can learn and improve with every data set they process. They remember and identify rules and patterns and get more precise over time.  

 By relying on AI-powered automation solutions, procurement will be able to unlock efficiency in its B2B document processing. Documents such as purchase order confirmations, customer orders or invoices can be processed quickly without any manual workload and the highest data accuracy.  

Human-in-the-Loop Automation

Human-in-the-loop (HITL) automation refers to automated systems that integrate and enable human judgement. HITL automation solutions harness the power of AI and automation, for they combine the speed and accuracy of machines with human intuition and critical thinking. In the training phase of AI models, HITL automation plays a central role. The HITL approach enables AI to gain experience through constant access to data and refining human feedback, thus making it more accurate over time. 

HITL automation will be indispensable for all document processing activities. Processing B2B documents automatically, involves tasks like data extraction, document classification, the interpretation of information, the comparison of data, the definition of tolerances and the handling of exceptions or deviations. Human-in-the-loop automation technology allows humans to intervene in situations where critical thinking, interpretation skills and human judgement are needed. As a result, buyers are always in control of all automated workflows and only support the automatic document processing process when their expertise is truly needed.  

Intelligent Document Processing and Orchestration

Intelligent Document Processing leverages cutting-edge technologies to set new benchmarks in automation.By combining artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing, IDP mimics human abilities to identify, contextualise, interpret and process documents. As a result, IDP solutions can convert unstructured data of B2B documents into structured and actionable data.  

 Orchestration plays a central role in Intelligent Document Processing. By relying on orchestration, IDP takes automation to the next level as it goes beyond the automation of single and independent tasks. With orchestration, several different automated tasks are coordinated into a seamless and unified workflow.  

 By harnessing the potential of IDP and orchestration, procurement will be able to transform its operational processes significantly. Thanks to orchestration, the procurement of the future will benefit from complete automation and move beyond the constraints of basic automation. In document processing, this is particularly valuable when it comes to managing edge cases, errors and exceptions or regarding the processing and matching of data from various document sets such as purchase orders and order confirmations.  

Automation Technology is the Key to the Procurement of the Future

Automation technology will empower the procurement of the future. Advanced automation solutions will streamline the entire data extraction, comparison, and validation processes, making manual tasks obsolete. By automating B2B document processing with intelligent automation solutions which harness the power of AI, human-in-the-loop automation and orchestration, non-value-adding, time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks will become a thing of the past. As the procurement process will be streamlined, made more resilient and agile, procurement will transform into a reliable strategic business partner and value creation driver.