AI 'not about replacing people'

12 April 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not about replacing humans but augmenting them, a conference was told.

Delegates at the IvaluaNow: The Art of Procurement event in Paris, were told about the benefits of AI in procurement and how technology can add value to businesses.

According to Hélène Paul, CPO at Michelin, smarter procurement is about creating value with suppliers and bringing a better user experience to both internal and external parties within their ecosystem.

Paul said while people have concerns about how technology such as AI could potentially impact jobs in the future, technology can add value to businesses by freeing up buyers time to complete high value tasks.

She said: “We shouldn’t think of AI as replacing what humans do, it’s adding intelligence to what they do.

“It’s enabling our buyers to focus on more added-value activities and having the low added-value activities being helped by a machine using data.

“I like to consider it augmented intelligence, rather than artificial. We aren’t replacing anything, we’re adding more,” she said.

Sylvie Noël, CPO at Covéa Insurance, agreed that AI brings the potential for buying teams to focus on high-value tasks, while automation takes care of the rest.

She said: “The goal is to have a tool such as AI completing the non-valuable tasks by automation, not only for my team but also for our total supply chain.

“I want the buying process to be quick and efficient but controlled,” she said.

Noël said buy-in is necessary from stakeholders and the whole ecosystem of people involved in the procurement process, to be able to embrace the tools technology provides.

Aurélien Coquard, head of AI at Ivalua, said: “As well as automation, there are a few different use-cases for AI in procurement.

“For example, if you have a lot of contracts and you need to know what contracts present a risk, you could read all the contracts individually but that would take years, whereas AI can analyse those contracts and give you information,” he said.

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