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The Transformative Impact of Generative AI on Procurement: A Human-Centric Approach

Transformative Procurement with GenAI-2

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used in procurement for many years. Professionals have leveraged natural language processing to streamline document management and utilized machine learning for various purposes such as demand planning, pricing analysis, risk detection, and decision automation. Yet, the advent of Generative AI (GenAI) brings a different dimension to the table—a capability that feels almost magical. This technology can generate images, essays, and music from simple prompts, showcasing a qualitative leap in how AI can serve us.

Understanding GenAI in Procurement

At its core, GenAI isn't vastly different from the machine learning algorithms we've used for decades; it's more of an evolution rather than a revolution. However, its application in procurement is beginning to reshape the landscape, pushing beyond mere content creation to enhancing user experience in profound ways.

Most commonly today, GenAI aids procurement through tasks like RFI creation, text summarization, and deploying chatbots. These tools are undeniably powerful and beneficial, yet the true potential of GenAI in procurement is not just about generating content—it's about enhancing the procurement experience to be more intuitive and human-centered.

The State of Procurement Today

According to Hackett’s 2023 Procurement Benchmark survey, only 26% of transactions in typical procurement departments are touchless, compared to 77% in digitally advanced organizations. This statistic highlights a significant gap in efficiency and user satisfaction. The average business partner faces a cumbersome process when purchasing a new service: navigating complex portals, deciphering dense documentation, and engaging in lengthy communications with procurement teams. This often results in a cycle time from requisition to purchase order of 18 business days, compared to 11 days in more digitally mature organizations.

Humanizing the Procurement Experience

The heart of many procurement challenges—long cycle times, maverick spending, and risk—is a poor user experience. Imagine transforming this experience into something truly effortless. What if requesters didn't need to sift through documentation, but could instead navigate an intuitive, fully transparent process aligned with company policies?

This is where GenAI can shine. It has the potential to humanize the procurement process, allowing employees to procure what they need without frustration or unnecessary delays.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and AI

Klaus Schwab, who first conceptualized the Fourth Industrial Revolution, sees it as a double-edged sword: it could either dehumanize further or elevate human collaboration to new heights. Jaron Lanier, in his book "You Are Not A Gadget," discusses how our current interactions with machines can often feel dehumanizing because they force us to conform to rigid, impersonal systems.

GenAI promises to shift this paradigm by facilitating interactions that are conversational, personalized, and deeply human. Imagine a procurement system where employees simply state what they need in natural language, and the system intelligently guides them through an intuitive process based on their input.

The Future of Procurement with GenAI

The future GenAI envisions for procurement is one where technology serves as a seamless mediator between human needs and system requirements. Instead of navigating complex systems, users could start with a simple URL, describe their needs in natural language, and follow a clear, streamlined process. This would not only reduce cycle times and maverick spend but also significantly decrease risk by ensuring compliance through intelligent automation.


As we integrate GenAI into our daily practices, both as individuals and as procurement professionals, it's crucial to approach this technology thoughtfully. We must strive not just to adopt new tools for their own sake but to apply them in ways that genuinely enhance human experiences. The focus should not be on replacing human roles with AI but on augmenting human capabilities and making every interaction with procurement systems as natural and straightforward as possible.

By centering human needs and experiences, GenAI can help transform procurement from a perceived bottleneck to a vital enabler of business value and efficiency. In doing so, we not only harness the capabilities of AI but also affirm the central role of people in the digital age.