Can Data + AI drive smarter decision-making across the supply chain?
With the recent release of innovations to our next-level AI offering ADA, we thought it would be a great time to sit down with one of the architects behind the vision. Lloyd Humphreys, Tradeshift’s Principal Product Manager for Data & Analytics, took a moment out of his busy day to tell us what he’s been working on.
Read the full interview:
How did you join Tradeshift? What about the company inspired you?
I was working on a small ITIL product about eight years ago, and prior to that freelancing. I bumped into Christian on Twitter, we got to talking and I got excited about the idea of solving the kinds of invoicing problems I’d had as a freelancer and the kind of process problems I noticed in the ITIL space on a larger scale. Opportunities to grow, keep learning, keep working on things with more scale – those continue to provide an interesting challenge and is why I just checked off my 5 year anniversary. AI has a tendency to be a bit of a black box and we wanted to go in another direction. There’s no room for miscommunication when it comes to paying your suppliers.
Your background is as a designer, how do you apply the disciplines you learned as a designer in your current role as a product manager?
In B2B design you become acutely aware that you are not the customer. Here at Tradeshift it’s very hard to come to generic conclusions—everyone’s back office is different! A mish mash of ERP systems and acquisitions and personalities and priorities across different regions, languages and jurisdictions. Different customers are at different levels of their digital maturity journey. Empathy, active listening—really trying to get out of your own head and into the mind of your stakeholders is critical.
Where did your interest in AI come from? Have you always known you wanted to work on it or was it something you discovered more recently?
I think of AI as a tool in a toolbox—not the only tool, but a critical one. Running our data team gets me close to the source of how we’re creating data and how people expect to use it to make decisions. Experience with past experiments and overall context of stakeholder expectations helps me to know when AI is the appropriate tool to reach for when I need to solve a problem.
How would you describe Tradeshift’s AI offering?
At the platform level, ADA is a truly integrated part of what we’re doing—it isn’t just sprinkled on top. From the moment you receive an invoice, whether you realise it or not, our AI is kicking in to map lines across documents and facilitate a straight-through match. When you re-assign, or create a collaboration the names that show up first are ones that have been selected by Ada.
Where do you see AI capabilities at Tradeshift going in the next five years?
I think we’ll be seeing more integrations into customer built AI’s as the space continues to mature. We make a Private Data Lake available to all our customers and they can use that for Business Intelligence or to process their own data with their own AI tools and teams—we’re already working with a couple of customers who are doing this with Process Mining tools. I think we’ll be seeing more of that kind of thing—Tradeshift as a facilitator in getting structured data into your home-grown hyper-custom AI.
About Lloyd Humphreys
Lloyd Humphries grew up in North Wales, but relocated to Copenhagen to get closer to an interesting tech scene. Originally he was a freelance designer, but these days he prefers to work with data because it;s possible to make a bigger impact with that skill set. When he’s not at work he can most likely be found at at a metal concert or nerding out about submarines!
Want to know more about Tradeshift and AI? Check out Accounts Payable—How to show artificial intelligence who’s boss