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Navigating the Future of Bids and Proposals: Insights from BPC Barcelona 2024

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Market Trends

Navigating the Future of Bids and Proposals: Insights from BPC Barcelona 2024

Navigating the Future of Bids and Proposals: Insights from BPC Barcelona 2024

The BPC Barcelona 2024 not only stood out for its lineup of interesting talks and speakers but also for its extraordinary venue set in the vibrant city of Barcelona—a place as renowned for its innovative spirit as it is for its architectural wonders. This year, AI was unequivocally the star of the show, signalling a seismic shift in the landscape of bid and tender processes. Just two years ago, discussions around AI in our field were sparse, touching only the fringes of possibility. Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves on the cusp of a transformative era. Organisations are now at the threshold of widely adopting AI technologies to revolutionize their bidding and tendering activities' efficiency, speed, and quality.

It's a thrilling period to be part of this industry, especially from a vendor's perspective, as we observe the transition of AI from being no option or a supplementary tool to the cornerstone of strategic planning for bid and tender teams. This significant shift is unfolding before our eyes. Established in 2019, Brainial initially advocated for AI's integration into bid and tender processes. In those early days, the concept met with resistance; many teams were sceptical about incorporating AI into their workflows. 

Throughout the event, a significant portion of the discussions was dedicated to the current capabilities and potential of AI in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of bid and proposal teams. Notably, I had the privilege to co-present a session titled "Bidding into the Future: The Evolution of Tender Management with AI," alongside esteemed colleagues Thomas Moritzer, CP APMP Fellow, and Wouter van Tienhoven, CP APMP. Drawing upon our collective expertise from the EMEA AI Advisory Group APMP, our presentation delved into the transformative role of AI in shaping the next generation of tender management. We aimed to provide a forward-looking perspective, exploring how AI's impact could redefine the landscape of tender management, making processes more streamlined, strategic, and successful in the competitive market. 

Our session was based on an article we published on before the event. The article can be read below:

Shaping the Future of Tender Management with AI

In the past year, the advent of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT have made countless headlines and had a profound impact on how we view and work with AI.

At a steady pace, people are finding new ways to apply these LLMs to business problems, improving efficiency and performance. LLMs are being used for information extraction, summarization, brainstorming, and more. But this is just the beginning.

The current way of interacting with an LLM is often through dialogue, where we expect a single AI to return a correct response to a query in one shot. This has given remarkable results for basic tasks and opened up a lot of possibilities. But it also has a lot of drawbacks, with the AI not being capable of more complex tasks and reasoning, and not having access to any external data sources.

AI in Tender Management Today

In the realm of tender management, AI is already revolutionizing the way tender teams operate. Traditional tender processes are often complex and time-consuming, involving the analysis of extensive documentation, requirements matching, and writing assistance. However, the integration of AI into these processes is streamlining operations and enhancing efficiency.

Current AI applications in tender management primarily focus on automating routine tasks and tender analysis. For example, AI algorithms can rapidly sift through vast quantities of tender documents to extract key information, identify compliance requirements, and even make suggestions based on historical data. Moreover, AI tools are being employed for risk assessment, predicting the likelihood of winning a tender based on various parameters such as past performance, competition analysis, and market trends.

This AI-driven approach not only saves significant time for tender teams but also provides deeper insights and enables better strategic decisions. Furthermore, AI’s capability to learn and adapt continuously means that these systems become more efficient and accurate over time, constantly improving the tendering process.

By handling data-intensive and repetitive tasks, AI allows team members to focus on more creative and strategic aspects of tender management, such as building relationships with clients and crafting bespoke solutions.

The synergy between AI and human expertise in tender teams is setting a new standard for efficiency and effectiveness in the tendering process, paving the way for a more dynamic and competitive future in this field.

Autonomous Agents

In the past year, innovative approaches have been developed to alleviate AI’s shortcomings, particularly the lack of access to external data sources, and inability to conduct complex tasks and reasoning.

We are moving in the direction of ‘autonomous agents’, a concept where an LLM (agent) responds to a question in a multi-step process. It holds an internal conversation, where it autonomously plans its actions, uses tools, and gathers information to ultimately formulate a response. This is a lot like the internal dialogue we have in our heads, and opens up further capabilities such as interacting with external data sources, such as the web, and solving more complex tasks.

This means we can ask more complex questions, such as ‘search this document for information about this topic’, and can save a lot of time for tender teams.

Collaborative AI

The latest trend for improving AI performance is collaboration. Historians have long agreed that our capability to effectively collaborate in groups is one of the things that has given humans an evolutionary advantage, bringing us to the current state of our society.

In more complex tasks, such as the tendering process, we often have to collaborate with colleagues to leverage the specialization and knowledge of each team member. So, how can we expect one AI tool to get great results on its own?

The AI world is moving towards multi-agent collaboration – a paradigm where multiple AI agents communicate with each other to solve a task. Each of these agents is imbued with domain knowledge, role-specific tools, and operating procedures. They plan, delegate amongst themselves, review each other, and work towards a common goal. This allows the AI to solve even more complex tasks and add more business value.

Leveraging multi-agent AI collaboration drastically lowers bid costs and enables more frequent bidding – it’s the AI equivalent of having an entire department working for you instead of just one person.

Human-AI Collaboration

When we collaborate with colleagues on more complex tasks, we do not typically just delegate and expect a result, but instead communicate, validate, and ask questions. More complex tasks require more context, nuance, and communication.

If we extend this to the way we work with AI, we need to change something about the way we interact with it. We can’t just expect to provide a question and have the AI come up with exactly the right response. We need to approach it as a collaboration, working towards a desirable outcome together and using both human and AI for their main strengths.

Having a set of collaborative, specialist AI tools working as a team allows the AI to perform tasks that are generally considered to be harder for a single AI to do. It will be able to write high-quality responses because it’s able to employ a team of AI tools fulfilling the roles of tender manager, EMVI writer, requirements analyst, critic, and domain specialist.

If they are given access to the right information, they are able to autonomously take actions that a whole tender team would normally conduct on one part of the response – brainstorming solution and analyzing requirements, as well as drafting, evaluating, and refining the proposals.

The Future

Imagine a collaborative environment in which human teams and AI agents work together to analyze, strategize, and respond to tenders. Such collaboration could involve AI agents providing data-driven insights and analysis, while human experts contribute with contextual understanding, creativity, and strategic oversight.

This synergy not only enhances the quality and strategic depth of bids, but also significantly reduces the time and cost involved in preparing them, offering a competitive edge in the tendering process.

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