They Terk Er Jerbs! Good for them.

Because, if they were intelligent, if they weren’t already insane, they would be! One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But an even better one is wanting to do the same mind-numbing task over and over and over again until anyone with a modicum of intelligence would go insane.

Like screwing the same rivet 10,000 times a day. Walking up and down the same 20 aisles looking for sold out products day after day. Or performing well-defined calculations millions and millions and millions of times. This last task is something good accounts payable and procurement folk have to do over their career without AI if they want to realize the savings they should.

I say let the machines do that. And then find ways to do more intelligent actions with the results that the machines can’t do. That’s Procurement Innovation. And if you were on the ball and set up your Google Alert and noticed that the doctor was in L.A. yesterday giving a talk on Procurement, and, more specifically, Procurement Innovation. Procurement Innovation that is going to arise when you let the machines do the tactical drudge work and focus on the more strategic aspects of product acquisition. And give yourself time to get innovative … and creative … instead of just pushing virtual buttons all day. (In some P2P systems, it takes 15 clicks to actually get a product delivered when it should take 0. And how many products do you need? It’s amazing you aren’t insane! Someone should calculate the mental strength and willpower of a Procurement professional. That would be an interesting study.)

One needs to remember that AI is not I, but it is A. It is artificial, and it is extremely well suited to running lots of advanced calculations against expert defined models, well-defined variables, and big data sets to identify opportunities, outliers, and options for pursuit even the smartest of us couldn’t see because our mental calculation powers stop in the ones per second while a typical laptop’s calculation capacity is in the millions per second. Even if the best algorithms we have are, relatively speaking, dumb, the machine will outperform us in evaluating data against models and desired outcomes and identifying the best directions to pursue (which is different than being able to evaluate the perceived best options and actually pick the best ones).

And because of this, it is extremely well suited to checking invoices against POs, goods receipts, and contracts — which is one key to making sure the savings that are negotiated are actually captured. The best I2P systems today with advanced OCR can reach invoice processing accuracy (IPA) levels of 98% with no human intervention, including automatic return to supplier if issues are identified, and the proper configuration of rules can enable up to 100% of these automatically processed, corrected, and confirmed invoices to be automatically queued for payment (and paid). Considering that the average invoice “error” rate in an organization is 10% to 15% and that this typically results in overpayments of 1.5% or more, automatically processing 98% of invoices and eliminating 98% of the errors is huge.

And it’s a key component of two of the innovations — true automation and overspend prevention — that the doctor highlighted in his talk that can be addressed today, and tomorrow, and change your work, and even your life. (When you work smarter, you will get smarter.)

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