“The most fruitful areas of R&D are at the intersection between disciplines where previously siloed concepts are blended to form novel breakthroughs. The combination of optimization and automation is proving to be compelling because synergies generate force multiplier effects in speed, agility, and excellence.”
- Alan Holland, CEO and co-founder of Keelvar
We say the words ‘optimization’ and ‘automation’ together a lot around here at Keelvar. Much like other portmanteaus (motel, brunch, Netflix, Microsoft, webinar), and unlike silly name-merges like Brangelina, automization joins not just two words but conveys how we are delivering strategic sourcing innovation by integrating these two technology solutions.
We recognize that intelligent sourcing automation is only possible if optimization is a key ingredient. Lots of tasks can be automated, but doing so doesn’t make the automation optimal. Just watch a robot vacuum at work for 20 minutes, or ask Amazon’s Alexa to stop sending you shopping notifications, and it becomes obvious.
Truly effective, results-yielding automation for strategic sourcing will only happen in tight partnership with optimization that paves the way for artificial intelligence (AI) to do its best work. Why? Optimization collects data that ‘smart’ automation relies on.
For instance, sourcing optimization has proven its mettle in collecting at scale supplier bid data that includes both price and non-price bid inputs, and then optimizing possible supplier award options based on various constraints applied to that data. The collection of more fine-grained data gives you the flexibility to try more strategies and assess different scenarios, allowing suppliers to better play to their strengths. Optimization gives automation the guide rails that make it more intelligent.
Understanding automation approaches is key. You could deploy bots as a form of automation, but even bots aren’t all built the same. There are basic chat-bot tools, not fueled by AI or optimization, that allow for simple if-then workflows. Robotic process automation (RPA) can automate repetitive, predictable tasks, but is tightly constrained and scripted and can’t adapt on its own to changing conditions.
Keelvar instead offers intelligent sourcing bots that take advantage of the platform’s underlying optimization capabilities. This lets our bots deliver high automation to make it more efficient for buyers to set up bid sheets, interact with bidders to collect and validate bid data inputs, and analyze and recommend award decisions. Even further, our use of AI and ML means our bots, over repeated use, will learn how to become more process-efficient and quality-proficient.
So there you have sourcing’s portmanteau: Optimization + Automation = Automization.
To sum up, indeed you can have sourcing optimization without automation. You can have automation without optimization. But combined, sourcing automization gives you more transformative power that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Want more deets on Keelvar’s “automization” capabilities? Ask us here.
For a diversion read about portmanteaus in literary and entertainment usage: https://literarydevices.net/portmanteau/