Investors bet on AI in procurement
- Investors sank more than $95 million into a variety of blockchain, cybersecurity, eProcurement, logistics and supply chain management startups last week, according to PYMNTS.com.
- Some of the eProcurement startups funded include Suplari (which uses AI to help companies identify cost-savings opportunities and supplier risk), IndustryBuying (an e-commerce platform for B2B procurement) and Power2SME (an e-commerce platform for small businesses seeking to source raw materials).
- Overall, the funding round signals investor confidence that artificial intelligence (AI) and e-commerce will transform and is already transforming all aspects of the supply chain.
Wow. Tens of millions of dollars spent to streamline and automate the supply chain, reduce supplier risk, add artificial intelligence, create marketplaces, enhance cybersecurity, and accelerate the use of robotics. It certainly looks like the supply chain is the next frontier for groundbreaking and innovative technologies. Just follow the money as they say.
Now I’m sure that these venture capital companies have done their due diligence and expect a reasonable return on their investment. But except for the big guys, just how much AI do I need in my present supply chain?
I’m happy when my requisitioners put the proper account number on their requisitions!
Allow me to take a brief nostalgic walk back to the old days of paper requisitions and those heavy, green, sourcing directories that were the bible of many engineering and purchasing departments. In many companies there was also a catalog library of literally hundreds of catalogs with quarterly updates. The catalog from the stationary supplier was heavy enough to prop open the front door.
Fast-forward to today and anyone with a computer and a search engine is a sourcing expert. And while I have a list of favored suppliers due to service, pricing, and relationships, the "supplier relationship" module of my enterprise system and e-procurement processes has automated the purchasing process, sometimes beyond recognition.
Yet as a consumer I applaud any effort to improve the supply chain process. This week it took 3 clicks to buy something on Amazon and have it shipped to my son. They promised two day shipping and he got it the next day. Technology played a key role in that transaction, and millions others. But every order is not through Amazon. Yet.
Sometimes I go to the local hardware store to buy a paintbrush. I don’t depend on artificial intelligence for that. I depend on Bruce in the paint department. But as more companies move their operations online, that might change.
I am not a purchasing Luddite yearning for the days of the green eyeshades and quill pen. But I am a veteran of the early stage dot.com world where technology was going to be a panacea, a replacement for the mundane purchasing jobs of the past. You know, my job.
But I’m still here … for now.