Sun illustration

AI and the Future: Exploring Solutions and Overcoming Challenges

Over the past several months, I have watched artificial intelligence significantly change every industry, from healthcare to finance to entertainment. 

The influence of AI on the procurement landscape has also been substantial. In a recent Forbes article, Paul J. Noble reported that AI is moving executives toward autonomous procurement. New AI technologies also appear to be helping procurement organizations react more quickly to change. 

As exciting as these AI advancements have been for our industry, they have also been met with understandable skepticism and fear. 

Procurement leaders are faced with valid questions, such as: 

“Where do I start and which platform do I use? Is AI even safe? Is it taking and using all of my personal information? How do I get my team on board with using AI?” 

If you are looking for a place to start, you have come to the right place. After months of dedicated research into AI technologies and capabilities, my team and I are prepared to support and empower your team through the upcoming changes. 

In this particular article, we will explore two options for selecting and purchasing AI-powered FMs and LLMs. I will also provide you with insights that will allow you to empower and encourage your teams as you implement these AI-related technologies. 

What the heck are FMs and LLMs?

Before we proceed, let’s review two important AI definitions:

To begin, Foundation Models (FMs) are like blueprints or plans that are used to build the AI big brains. They are then used as a starting point for computers to understand and do different language tasks, like talking, writing, or answering questions.

On the other hand, Learning Language Models (LLMs), which are a kind of FM, are smart computer programs that learn how to understand and use language. They get better at it by looking at many examples, and they can help with things like translating languages, summarizing text, and answering questions.

LLMs are versatile because they can be trained to understand and generate human-like language. LLMs can also be applied to enhance language processing in procurement, such as improving communication, analyzing contracts, or automating certain aspects of the procurement process.

While Learning Language Models (LLMs) have the potential to enhance procurement processes, the landscape of options for their utilization is vast. Consequently, we will now delve into two distinct approaches for implementing these powerful AI solutions into your business. 

Buying AI Capabilities and Data Privacy

When it comes to using and purchasing AI, you have two options.

The first option is to buy technology through service providers that are already enhancing their software with AI. Examples essentially include any procuretech that is enhancing its system using AI. If you look at any of their websites right now, they are promoting AI as their new features and functionality.

One advantage of this solution is the ready-to-deploy nature of the AI software. Additionally, since the AI technology is public, your data integrates seamlessly with a wealth of additional information.

However, by selecting this option, you are inputting your data and information into another company’s system. That company is able to use your data in order to improve their own software and build their personal database. Essentially, you are paying to improve another company’s software with your unique data. 

Fortunately, there is another option that I strongly suggest you explore… 

Using an LLM Behind Your Firewall

At the Sourcing Industry Group’s annual summit, Amazon Web Services (AWS) delivered a presentation outlining the specific advancements that AI is making. The part of AWS’ presentation that excited me the most was the option of buying a pre-built LLM and protecting it with your company firewall. 

This option provides companies with an inexpensive way to create a more personalized AI system that protects your data from the risks associated with AI. Users are also able to train the system according to the specific needs of their businesses. 

Surprisingly, this process is very easy. No coding is necessary. Essentially, you tell the system what to do and it will do it.

The con of this method is that your LLM will not be refreshed with information based on the learning that is occurring in the public space. However, I do believe updates will eventually be introduced that will curb this issue.

Whether you decide to purchase a pre-existing AI solution or a firewall-protected LLM, it is important to be aware of the relationships you are creating. No matter what, remain cognizant of how your data is being used. This will allow you to make an informed and intentional decision that will benefit your company long-term. 

Creating Change & Trust in AI Adoption

Once you have selected an AI solution, the next step is to get your team on board. 

My top advice? 

Start small. 

AI works perfectly when it is a spot solution for a particular opportunity within your organization. Bringing in AI to assist with specific use cases allows your teams to have small opportunities to gain comfort with AI. 

By using AI to help with 3-4 of these areas, you allow your employees to familiarize themselves with AI technology. As your team gets more comfortable with these cheap and helpful AI tools, your team will be ready to embrace more long-term AI solutions and products.

In Conclusion

AI may feel daunting, but your company is capable of a strong implementation. If you need help, feel free to reach out to our WONDERful team. We are happy to help you manage the change that incorporating AI will have on your business.

Unlock Your Procurement Potential

Subscribe to our newsletter for insights into change management strategies, the latest procurement trends, and upcoming industry events. Whether you're looking to enhance your skills or keep up with the evolving industry, our newsletter is your go-to resource. Stay ahead of the curve in the dynamic world of procurement!