Will AI Make Us Irrelevant?

Short Answer: No. But Improper Use Will Make Us “Redundant.

James Meads asks “Will AI in Procurement make us all irrelevant?”

So I will answer. No, it won’t! But it will make those companies who dive off the deep-end on Gen-AI irrelevant as their supply chains crumble with no real human intelligence there to save them when the next crisis hits. (See the myriad of rants here on Sourcing Innovation on just how over-hyped Open Gen-AI technology is and what you actually need to solve your problems.) Also, if we’re lucky, they will take a few providers with no actual platform capability (or Procurement value) down with them. (We need them to get out of the way for those platforms that have been offering real, deterministic, math-based, tried-and-true analytics, optimization, and machine learning solutions [for up to two decades] as there are many companies that need those solutions today.)

While custom-trained closed LLMs can seemingly do a lot of the work for us, they are NOT intelligent, they don’t know good from bad, they don’t know right from wrong, and they definitely don’t know critical from irrelevant. Thus, even though they can put together an NDA or RFP in seconds, it doesn’t mean it’s “fully functional”, that it protects you from all the risks, or that it captures all your requirements. Only an expert human can verify that. [And it doesn’t matter how good your “prompting” is. It can still fail, with a reasonably high probability to boot! (Which is what you can give it!) There’s a reason that Tonkean, an intake automation/enterprise orchestration solution provider, ALWAYS does pre-validation on inputs and-post validation on outputs before showing you anything when it incorporates your LLM technology, because they know just how often it fails and if the response doesn’t closely resemble something expected with very high probability, they won’t even show it to you.]

“AI”, or, more accurately, rules-based automation, will replace humans who are just doing tactical data processing, but it cannot replace humans who can do real strategic analysis, interpretation, and problem solving. Unfortunately for Procurement, given that 80%+ of the time is tactical data processing and fire-fighting, this will cause companies to think they can eliminate 80% of the Procurement team, even though the reality is that the Procurement team isn’t even addressing 20% of spend strategically in any given year, meaning that they should be augmenting the Procurement team with every useful technology they can find to try and get that spend coverage above 80%!

And if you want to know what companies are truly offering valuable “AI” (where the best you will get is Augmented Intelligence, level 2 on the 4 tier scale, as there is no such thing as Artificial Intelligence and many companies still don’t even offer Assisted Intelligence, level 1, and instead disguise their Artificial Idiocy in slick marketing), talk to an analyst who CAN do the math AND the programming.

First published on LinkedIn.