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You know what’s over rated? Artificial intelligence

AI is sprinkled into almost every sales pitch but Nick Booth finds it is losing its punch with customers

Artificial intelligence is the most over used term in business now. Everyone crow bars the AI acronym into their spec sheet these days. You half expect to see it on the list of ingredients on your box of Corn Flakes.

With all this overuse the general public is becoming AI intolerant now, says Monish Darda, CTO of Icertis. He’s a purist who offer genuine artificial intelligence based on a deep process of machine learning and data science.

Understandably, he’s appalled at all the posers parading around these days, showing off their unearned medals.

Darda’s intelligence  (he attributes it to serendipity) is obviously the genuine article because people keep buying the companies that he’s involved in. Websym Technologies was ahead its time, Storability was bought by Sun Microsystems and Blade Logic provided the server management leader that BMC Software had to acquire.

At Icertis Darda and co-founder, Samir Bodas seem to have anticipated the next big wave and put aboard in place in anticipation of a massive swell of energy in enterprise contract management.

Companies waste millions - billions in some cases - on contracts because they are way too labour intensive. And corporate lawyers - who can cost $750 an hour at barrister level - are too precious a resource to mismanage. 

At the risk of over simplifying what Icertis does, it uses artificial intelligence to get all over corporate contracts like a polar bear on a bin bag. Having broken the contracts down into manageable chunks, it can then digest it and break it all down into useful components. (Obviously, there’s far more to it than that, but you need to contact them direct and find out what the channel opportunities are).

There are seven major food groups in contracts for resellers, systems integrators and service providers, according to Darda. These are the ways you can provide value to your clients by fine tuning their contract management and saving their time, money or cutting their risk of prosecution.

For example, the automated guardians in the Icertis cloud can cross check many of the transactions against the terms in the contract that people miss. The original person who litigated a deal may have got a clause that stipulates the NHS client (for example) would get a 10% discount when they bought more than 1000 laptops in one quarter. But they frequently don’t enforce these clauses, because it’s so difficult to keep on top of them, especially when people move on. There is a massive amount of complication and assumption that all the variables created are all good. Assumption is the mother of all cock ups.

You can make immediate savings for your client by spotting the crucial clauses that will save them money or increase their revenue, says Darda.

Automating the process of drawing up a contract means that projects get started quicker. Often it takes lawyers months to get moving, possibly because they are charging by the hour.

Another source of savings comes from looking at contract terms holistically, says Darda. Often there are anomalies across geographies, business units, vendors, and products. The number of days credit given on payments can be 90 days in India, 45 in the US and 30 in Australia. Identifying these anomalies is the work of the Icertis system, after which the client can harmonise them and save a fortune.

Compliance is often a legal and financial minefield.  If a company is legally obliged (by a contract)  to drug test employees  working on a job, it’s easy for this discipline to be forgotten if the originator of the contract moves on. The new person who takes over and unwittingly neglects to fulfil the contractual obligation, is putting the company at risk of a massive compliance fine. Judging by a recent case, this can cost the company several million dollars in fines for lack of compliance.

“Having a system of record for contract management can demonstrate that you use best practices with financial approvals or data security,” says Darda. This is a massive time saver in audits and litigation because it is demonstrating good business behaviour and intent, says Darda.

Contractual obligations that are properly cascaded to suppliers - to ensure ethical, socially responsible and safe procurement can protect your client from brand damage, according to Darda.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of good contract management in the UK could be the NHS. They’ve just been given £20 billion extra to spend, of which about £19 billion will end up being spent on the lawyers. Now that’s not very intelligent at all is it?

This was last published in June 2018

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