The AI Revolution is Here: How Recent AI Advances are Transforming Supply Chain and Procurement

April 25, 2023
By Vendorful

If you've been keeping up with the latest technology trends, you've probably heard about the incredible advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). One of the most groundbreaking developments has been the emergence of generative AI models, like GPT-4, which have the potential to revolutionize the way we work, learn and interact. These models are shaking up supply chain and procurement, leading to improved efficiency, cost savings and better operations.

So, what exactly are generative AI models? In a nutshell, they're a type of machine learning model capable of creating new data based on existing patterns and structures. “Learning” from massive datasets, they generate realistic outputs, ranging from text and images to audio and more. By training on vast amounts of data, they can generate new, never-before-seen content. These models have found applications in various industries, from health care and finance to entertainment and manufacturing. High-profile examples include ChatGPT and Dall-E.


Transforming Supply Chain Management

Among the most significant ways AI models are transforming supply chain management are through forecasting and demand planning. By analyzing historical data and identifying trends, AI models can make accurate predictions about future demand. This helps companies optimize production and distribution strategies, allowing them to proactively respond to market changes and customer needs. Better decision-making, powered by data-driven insights, is just one of the many benefits of AI in supply chain management.

Generative AI is also revolutionizing the procurement process by enabling more effective risk assessment of suppliers. By analyzing vast amounts of historical data, AI models can identify patterns and trends that indicate potential risks associated with a supplier, such as financial instability, poor performance or unethical practices. Such data-driven analysis allows procurement professionals to make more informed decisions when selecting suppliers, leading to proactive risk mitigation strategies.

Furthermore, AI can monitor real-time data sources to provide early warnings of emerging risks, allowing companies to respond quickly and adjust their procurement strategies as needed. Ultimately, the insights gained from generative AI models enable procurement teams to minimize supply chain disruptions, protect their brand reputation, and ensure a stable, ethical and reliable supply base.


Chained Models

With chaining, advanced AI models can work together to synthesize data across multiple datasets and help answer complex questions about suppliers. Imagine you've got different systems with information on a supplier's financial performance, quality control and environmental practices, and that those systems don’t speak to each other (you probably don’t have to imagine very hard).

Chained AI models can analyze and connect the dots between these datasets, giving you a more comprehensive understanding of a supplier's overall performance and risk profile. This way, procurement professionals can tackle those tough questions and make well-informed decisions based on a more complete picture of a supplier's history and current situation. The result? Smarter supplier selections and a more efficient, reliable, and sustainable supply chain.

In addition, AI models play a transformative role in supplier relationship management. They can increase supplier accountability by connecting the dots between RFP answers, contract terms and performance data. When suppliers respond to RFPs, they make certain claims and commitments about their capabilities and performance. AI models can analyze these answers and compare them to the actual contract terms that are agreed upon, making sure there's alignment and no discrepancies.

But it doesn't stop there. AI models can also monitor a supplier's performance data over time to see if it is living up to its promises and contract terms. By continuously analyzing this data, procurement teams can identify any discrepancies or underperformance and take appropriate action, like addressing the issue with the supplier or even reevaluating the supplier relationship.

So, by using AI models to link RFP answers, contract terms and performance data, businesses can keep a closer eye on their suppliers and ensure they're held accountable for their commitments. This results in a more transparent and trustworthy procurement process, which is a win-win for everyone involved.

The transformative impact of generative AI models on supply chain and procurement management is undeniable. With the right approach, the future of AI in supply chain and procurement management looks incredibly promising. However, the technologies and capabilities are evolving so rapidly that it is difficult to stay on top of everything happening.

This moment requires a different approach to technology buying than procurement organizations have typically used. Rather than focusing on specific features or requirements that they plan to utilize for 3 to 5 years, teams should identify partners they trust to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape over that same period. By fostering strong relationships with these partners, procurement teams can ensure they remain agile, future-proof and ready to harness the full potential of AI advancements in the years to come.


Vendorful is a New York-based e-sourcing and supplier relationship management software solutions company.