How perseverance with AI in procurement has paid off, for Zycus customers at least
Procurement managers, like any other budget holder in businesses across the world, will be bombarded with marketing collateral about the latest and greatest software platform that will revolutionize their department’s function. “Downstream” benefits of the best platforms are, however, almost always gradual – and that’s no bad thing. Getting staff on-board with a new platform depends on a step-wise approach, as does a user interface that’s familiar and usable. Both are boxes ticked by outstanding providers, and naturally, as well as downstream plus-points, there need to be take-homes for the business as a whole, as well.
In the area of upstream benefits, the procurement platform from Zycus allows companies to place procurement at the heart of strategic planning and policy formulation: and that is, of course, where procurement needs to be. Benefits flow upwards and downwards, but the right systems need to be in place for an effective two-way flow.
Modern procurement platforms must maintain a subtle balance between managing the minutiae of procurement on a day-to-day basis (from eCommerce transactions, electronic invoice capture to catalog management), with a grasp of the many data “pools” throughout the enterprise that affect the procurement process & systems. The grasp of this information is a literal pulling together and normalization process, meaning the procurement platform can draw out meaningful BI (business intelligence) to inform & guide the entire source-to-pay function.
In the case of Zycus, the company was one of the first to recognize the capability of the technology that is set to dominate the business landscape in years to come – that of artificial intelligence. The company’s take on this exciting area has already evolved from its first iterations, progressing down the route of massed machine learning routines that have the computing “crunch” thanks to extended learning phases. (There’s a great bog post on the history of AI at Zycus that’s well worth a read.)
In its second phase, the Zycus AI was deployed to automate the three-way matching of PO–to-invoice–to-GR, , and tagging non-PO invoices to existing contracts, as a few discrete examples.
Now the third iteration is formed together to create the Zycus Merlin AI Studio, which draws on AI, bots and RPA technologies to allow companies to move towards the end goal of a fully automated procurement platform.
RPA is a technology that is currently deployed throughout the enterprise, after a (perhaps belated) realization that no organization wants to tear down the entirety of its legacy systems and build from scratch. Instead, the robotic process automation technology creates autonomous and partially autonomous links between discrete platforms, to remove a great deal of repetitious and wasteful activities. (Think of it as a robotic copy from system A, paste into system B – at its most simple level).
Bots are of course already a mainstay of customer service and aftercare – small, relatively autonomous code snippets that similarly hope to remove from (expensive) human staff much of the low-level care & support burden. In Zycus’s Merlin AI Studio’s case, the bots come pre-configured with numerous intelligent functions which once trained, can be deployed across the source-to-pay platform.
Each bot’s requirements will vary according to its designed function (the latter is up to the procurement staff themselves). At hand, however, is ML (machine learning) code, full RPA-type interfacing, and a distinct focus on procurement.
Like ERPs that still run much of the enterprise’s back end, “standard” RPA deployments have their uses. But Zycus’s focus on AI-enabled bots over the years is starting to pay off, thanks to two factors: the company’s specialism in the source-to-pay function, and the length of its directed research into, and application of artificial intelligence technologies.
To learn more about how Zycus can help your procurement department or division, and let your organization take a positive step towards AI-powered automated procurement, get in touch with a local representative today.