There’s lots of discussion and speculation about artificial intelligence (AI) and the impact it will have on business functions like procurement. In a recent research report, Start Preparing Now for the Impact of AI on Procurement, Gartner says “AI technologies will add significant value if provided with the right platform, so application leaders in procurement need to drive better adoption of foundational procurement solutions.”

So, what does driving better adoption of e-procurement solutions have to do with artificial intelligence? Two words: data collection. We probably sound like a broken record at this point – always telling you that data is the impetus of the future. But it’s true – data is the critical foundation for AI and we can’t stress this point enough. Why? Because artificial intelligence “learns” by analysing data and monitoring trends and patterns to understand how a business operates, and then makes decisions based on that information. AI is useless without a constant intake of comprehensive data, and that includes spend data that is collected from achieving 100% user adoption of your e-procurement solution.

Gartner recommends that you: “Increase adoption of procurement tools across source-to-pay and supplier management processes to enable maturing AI capabilities.” According to their research, “proper use of existing tools provides the platform for applying AI, as well as providing the data on which to train the AI.

It sounds simple enough, but as you probably already know – compliance is no easy feat. At Basware, we have found that you cannot force people into using e-procurement no matter how “user-friendly” or mandated you make it. Your e-procurement solution must fit into the way people already work to make using the system the easiest thing to do during their natural workflow. That’s probably why Gartner also recommends that you “enable AI support by identifying, prioritising and investing in solutions to support automation of specific workstreams that are not suited to current systems.”

Go beyond the PO and catalog-based automation, and look for solutions that can handle complex workflows and unique buying scenarios. Gartner says, “buying organisations need to analyse their spend from an ordering and invoicing characteristics point of view, and deploy a workstream-specific P2P [purchase to pay] strategy to make sure that the organisation has the appropriate tools.” Because the more tailored your e-procurement solution is to your industry, specific user roles and needs, the more likely people are to use it.

Gartner says, “better adoption of these procurement tools will enable maturing AI capabilities to improve processes, provide actionable advice and increase automation. It will also improve the access to data that is critical for AI.

So, enabling user adoption of e-procurement isn’t just getting you compliance – it’s helping you prepare for the future. Read the full Gartner research report to learn more about preparing for a future of AI in procurement.