How Natural Language Generation Will Transform Your Procurement Processes

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“Alexa… find information about Conversational Platforms in Procurement…”

Business technologies using Natural Language Generation (like Alexa and Siri) are transforming the way business professionals and consumers interact with technology. Voice-enabled platforms are still in their infancy, but the technology continues to rapidly advance to include more complex interactions. It will only be a matter of time before we are all relying on Natural Language Generation (NLG) platforms to interpret data, research information and even perform tasks (like content marketing writing) on our behalf.

Apple, Amazon and Google are companies who have received the most attention from their use of natural language, voice-enabled technology in consumer applications. In the past year, these companies have been competing head-to-head to develop the smartest, most intuitive voice-command technology on the market.

As this technology bleeds into business applications, it’s only natural to wonder about the implications of conversational platforms in various industries, like procurement. Many eProcurement providers are in the process of developing natural language applications within their service suite, recognizing that Business Intelligence technology is soon to be a game-changer when it comes to product differentiation.

According to Narrative Science, a technology company specializing in NLG, natural language generation is, “a subfield of artificial intelligence which produces language as output on the basis of input data.”

The application of NLG can be quite simple, like a system that uses templates to customize information that is specific and personal to the recipient. We see this every day in practice… such as when your mobile phone provider sends you a text notification to let you know that you’re running out of data.

Applications of NLG in Sourcing and Procurement

Many eProcurement service providers are integrating NLG capabilities in their spend and contract analytics solutions suite. Features such as chatbots and smart contracts are seeking to make procurement processes more intelligent by creating better and more meaningful connections between people, processes, systems, data and context. There are additional use cases for NLG as well. Below are a few applications where this technology is improving the end-user experience of traditional procurement tools.

RFQ Creation: Systems including a conversational platform will allow users to issue voice commands to perform simple tasks such as “create an RFQ”. As the platform learns from the user’s intention of the request, the system may suggest follow-up actions and begin to proactively complete activities without being prompted.

Contract Document Creation: NLG capabilities within contract applications can allow you to search for specific contracts, view and perform tasks, and approve or reject documents.

Faster Data Insights: Several sourcing and procurement software suites have the capabilities to quickly run reports and display complex analytics via a conversational reporting tool. This allows the casual user to simply state their objective and then retrieve the information (based on specific criteria) by using simple, conversational voice commands.

Self Service Capabilities for Product Requisitions and Order Creation: Using NLG employees, customers or suppliers can use voice commands to place, modify, cancel or check the status of an order. This is especially useful for the casual user who simply wants to complete a task in the quickest method possible.

JAGGAER—On the Cutting Edge of NLG

JAGGAER is making waves within the procurement community with their NLG applications. Here are some features customers will be able to take advantage of in the coming year:

Virtual Assistant: JAGGAER’s Virtual Assistant allows users to use natural language voice commands to quickly and easily find answers to questions or get technical product support. Virtual Assistant is a powerful tool aimed to streamline many standard procurement processes or simplify operations.

Contextual Feedback: JAGGAER’s product suite has built-in, individualized voice recognition, providing users a secure way to run events, authorize approvals and create new requests. With this new feature, users can speed up processes that used to take days to complete in the past.


Guidance…

There is still a lot of room for growth of NLG platforms, so it’s best get started by trialing solutions internally first to get comfortable with the technology. Once you’ve gained some hands-on experience and analyzed the potential ROI, you can begin to roll out these advanced features to your customers.

Human skills are still an integral piece of the puzzle and should not be under-estimated. NLG applications still cannot replace those with the right analytical and data science skills. To get the most benefit from this new technology, it’s best to keep in mind the applicable use cases as it relates to procurement to see where more advanced analysis makes the most sense.

JAGGAER is at the forefront of emerging technologies. For more on cutting edge advancements in procurement, watch our recent webinar with Ardent Partners.

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