February 11, 2021

Procurement is all about finding the right product at the right cost and from the right supplier. The entire process of procurement relies on the experience of its users in terms of obtaining the product or service required for their business. Customers usually face difficulty while choosing right product to meet their demand. They hesitate while choosing a product because one mistake can lead to loss of money, effort and time. This usually leads to significant delays in buying decisions and adverse impact on the business.

Use of conversational system in procurement

As per a recent survey, 66% customers around the world prefer self-service before any attempt to make a call and ask for suggestions. Conversational systems enable self-service by end users who can find their own way to make the buy effective in all aspects. Users gain trust while conversing with system and can channelize their thoughts to make the right buying decision on their own without any manual interventions. It also helps to keep the users engaged with the system leading to increased system usage and buying requests.

There are thousands of products available across various categories, suppliers, functionalities, types, etc. If one is not sure about which product to buy and needs help to understand the specific requirement to select the right product, then conversational systems, with the power of AI, can prove to be the perfect solution.

Conversational systems can play a great role to guide users in a proper way to search a product as per individual choice and to get it delivered on time, ensuring high customer satisfaction. It tries to bridge the gap by providing proper guidance and suggestions to user in real time while buying so that decision of buying can be easy and quick.

Rich features of conversational system:

  • Users can interact in natural language without any system-driven process or interface

  • System can be context-aware as it can process based on all past user interactions and behaviors.

  • System can perform complicated tasks and make independent recommendations

  • Users need less time and effort to learn to use procurement technology; conversations replace graphical user interfaces

  • Voice-enabled conversation enhances usability, increases comfort and builds trust with end users

Use cases of conversational system in procurement

  • As mobile widget to enhance popularity and acceptability among current generation:

Nowadays people use mobile more than anything else and that’s why texting or chatting have become more popular. In procurement also, if we can use chatting or texting as a powerful medium to engage more user then that will make system more acceptable, useful and popular among current generation of users. Conversational technology can make this digitization possible for procurement domain to enhance efficient buying.

  • As a successful procurement assistant

Conversation technology has the potential to be used as a guide for user’s buying decision and placing order, assists user to fill up complex forms and many more. It can make one’s life easy by providing in-time efficient recommendation to user while buying to ensure cost effectiveness. It can save time by providing auto suggestion of data in completing requisitions or purchase orders in terms of accounting, supplier details etc.

  • As a successful interpreter for procurement domain with NLP

Procurement system deals with people of various languages worldwide. To have a strong base, it is required to understand every language. There are many languages which are very complex in their spoken forms or written forms so to understand them one needs to have an interpreter. Conversational system along with advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) can bridge the gap of demand of an interpreter to understand the buyers’ language. At the initial stage, properly trained and tuned conversational system can understand any language and guide buyers satisfactorily ensuring positive feedback from customers.

There are plenty of other scenarios where advanced conversational system can contribute in procurement which might not be utilized so far. Beyond helping users, conversational UI has a large opportunity in business by engaging people in a more effective and efficient way.

This is certain that procurement industry will be enriched and grow further with conversational system in place.

Arijit Aich is a Technical Consultant with TCS Platform Solutions. He is responsible for multiple product engineering and build initiatives covering new functional modules, major product enhancements and innovations. In his career of over 10 years, he has worked in various domains including Banking and Procurement. He has played the role of technology lead and architect for large application deployments, product development and re-engineering. He holds a B.Tech. degree from West Bengal University of Technology. He has also done Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP) ) and Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD) certifications.