Horses for sources had an amusing Fools Day Story about Robot Analysts replacing human analysts. The idea is not so crazy after all and has been tried in more primitive forms and certainly with less fancier names than Phil Fersht has coined. At least some advisory firms have tried to automate and make their sourcing templates so standardized that even a robot can read, understand, and respond to them! Some have gone further and tried, once the vendor responses are in, to use a machine to easily count the Ys and Ns to the series of interrogatory questions, to calculate the $ value of all the Ns, to add it to the vendor´s quoted prices and then to rank the vendors by price! Integrate all that into a database driven online tool fitted with a reverse auction engine and voila, you have made the software soul for your robot advisor! If daily life became that simple and orderly, many of us in the outsourcing business would immediately turn jobless!
I have watched the sourcing advisory industry evolve over a decade now and have seen how some advisors have tried hard to standardize the sourcing process through detailed and precise templates and so on. Invariably on such advisor led deals, vendors have complained mostly to themselves how such straight jacketing kills their otherwise abundant creativity. The buyers have generally complained how little these advisor mandated processes and templates reflect the unique nuanced rich realities of their business operations. The advisors have generally complained about how little the clients listen to them and how little the vendors comply with them and how they then need to stay on with the client post contract to clean up the mess and ensure the vendor delivers the promised value. In the end, everyone finds a way to do their dharma and move on – the client convinces the advisor to customize their templates, the vendors find ways to make robotic evaluation of their offer difficult, and the advisors give up once again on their vision of an automated, mature, robotic sourcing market!
So, now that we know why we don´t have robot analysts among us, do we really miss them? In 2014, the sourcing world does seem more livable without them, but hey, we are game for a challenge! Bring them on and we will find a way to humanize and clutter them up and frustrate them too!