It seems AI and machine learning are quickly becoming a must-have for today's software. Apttus, the quote-to-cash service is putting AI to work in contract processing in an effort to speed up a highly inefficient system and close sales faster.
Contracts have traditionally been a bottleneck in the sales process. As Apttus CEO and company founder Kirk Krappe explains it, there are a series of decision points in the contract workflow and companies can use AI to help decide which way to go and which of these to prioritize.
"Organizations that combine contract management with artificial intelligence gain an ability to explicitly trade off considerations of risk, cycle time, cost and negotiation outcomes," Krappe told TechCrunch.
He says that having this ability will give a company's executives greater flexibility to manage these decisions as they relate to broader corporate goals. "Some organizations may value cost reduction, while others may prioritize risk reduction or maximizing sales growth," he explained.
"For this reason, applied AI in contract management has the potential to drive future growth and enhance productivity in all types of organizations. Chief legal officers and legal operations directors must not ignore this development, and can embrace it as a way of enhancing their value and the value of their departments," he said.
In other words by applying intelligence to the contract process, these companies should work more efficiently, which should move the entire sales process along to bring sales to fruition much faster. It should eliminate or greatly reduce the bottleneck in the legal department waiting for contracts to be written, approved and signed.
Beyond pure efficiency gains, the software can do some practical things like recommending missing clauses that should be in there to protect your company, or conversely find clauses in the proposed contract that might put the company at financial risk. Finally, you can incorporate third-party language right into your contract database so you can bring in relevant language from third-party agreements whenever needed.
It's interesting to note that even though the company is built on top of the Salesforce platform, Apttus decided to use Microsoft Azure AI algorithms to build this functionality into the product. They attribute to this to a simple timing issue, saying that they were working on this long before Salesforce made their Einstein AI APIs available in June.
Apttus handles the quote-to-cash part of the sales process. While sales people use their CRM tool to track information about their customers, once the sales process kicks in with a request for quote, that's where a tool like Apttus takes over. If the sale closes, Apttus also handles the contract and eventually collecting the money.
The AI-enhanced contract management will be available today, but is being offered as an add-on for additional cost.