AI, Intake Orchestration, And People-First Process Automation: Tonkean 2023 Year in Review

January 12, 2024
December 12, 2023
min read
AI, Intake Orchestration, And People-First Process Automation: Tonkean 2023 Year in Review

Looking back, 2023 was undoubtedly the year of generative AI. (Or, perhaps, the first year of a generative AI era.) That’s what probably every other tech end-of-year roundup listicle and thought piece will say, and that’s because it’s true. AI has had a big impact on the tech world this year. But AI has had an even bigger impact on the world of business operations specifically. 

When Open AI launched ChatGPT in late 2022, the app garnered more than a million users in just a few days, and only grew from there. Quickly, enterprises of all stripes began finding ways to leverage this tool, and others like it, to increase efficiency and automate manual work. 

Here at Tonkean, though, we recognized that gen AI’s most game-changing promise was to provide operations teams new opportunities for creating newly intelligent and adaptive process experiences that truly empower employees by putting people first. Thus we focused our effort on cutting through the hype and finding ways to help organizations employ AI at the process level of their operations, so as to deliver tangible, human-centric benefits. (More on that below.) 

Meanwhile, other tech trends emerged—some of them also related to the genAI boom. 

In procurement, 2023 saw a huge rise in appreciation for the importance of process orchestration, particularly around intake orchestration and process experience. 

Last summer, Kearney’s Dr. Elouise Epstein called process orchestration a “critically important innovation” for procurement organizations. 

A Deloitte survey found that embracing process orchestration as a pillar for digitization had emerged as one of the three biggest priorities for leading CPOs. 

And in one of its hype cycle reports, Gartner said that procurement intake management was emphatically and rapidly on the rise.  

In the legal ops, this year brought more attention to the potential of AI to automate administrative work and to empower legal ops teams to better enable lawyers to more strategically serve the business.

In both of those areas (and many others), there was an urgency around the need to do more with less, as budgets shrank and purse strings tightened. But the positive side of that need is the affirmation that people, and their unique and deep skill sets, are more important than ever. Why squander your hard-earned financial and logistical acumen trying to cajole everyone in your company to follow painstaking, static procurement processes? Why train for years as a lawyer only to spend your days fielding emails? These are tasks that can be improved or fully automated with AI. 2023 was the year that organizations awoke to this reality en masse.  

That’s partly because 2023 proved, in terms both tangible and irrefutable, the business value of using new, innovative technologies like LLMs at the process level to finally, actually put people first. 

At Tonkean, this was music to our ears, because using technology at the process level to put people first has been our cardinal mission since Sagi Eliyahu and Offir Talmor started the company in 2015. 

And so, we doubled down. 

Our twin themes of 2023 were “fit” and “focus.” 

Specifically, we focused our efforts—technologically, communally, and otherwise—on serving two specific operational verticals: legal and procurement. 

We launched two product suites, ProcurementWorks and LegalWorks, and continued to upgrade and add to our core platform offering. 

We created a new generative AI-based tool, called the AI Front Door—an AI-powered intake experience for submitting—and proactively resolving—internal requests. The Tonkean AI Front Door supports frictionless service interactions with a plain-language user experience—and is accessible to requesters via email, Slack/Teams, or a customized web portal. It provides intelligent assistance that’s personalized and context-aware and that understands employees’ intentions and accommodates their preferences moment-to-moment. (It does this without compromising on policies.)

We continued to improve and build upon what we offer at Tonkean—and how we serve to further elevate the world of enterprise business operations—in other ways, as well. Here’s a short summary. 

Knock knock knocking on the AI front door

In 2023, Generative AI became suddenly more accessible to the masses. By way of tools like ChatGPT and Dall-e, the average person could now see with more immediacy just how seamlessly AI could do things like take a simple text prompt and make something seemingly magical. 

This sparked imaginations all over the world, including the imaginations of CEOs, CTOs, VC investors, engineers, developers, ops leaders, and other people who have been thinking of ways to bring the power of generative AI to bear on enterprise-sized business challenges.

That last bit is important, and it’s guided our mindset as it pertains to leveraging advancements in AI. For as dazzling as generative AI can be, and for as exciting as its potential is in people’s imaginations, at the end of the day we’re all too busy for flash without substance. We’re all looking for ways to solve our problems, improve our performance, and contribute to the success of our businesses. In other words, we need to be able to apply tools, not just marvel at them. And we all have to learn how to use those tools safely, regardless whether you’re in legal or procurement or any other field.

These principles and prerogatives informed our strategy here at Tonkean. And although we’ve used AI for years—for example, using NLP to automatically triage incoming requests—we made our biggest technological leap to this end to date with the launch of our AI Front Door. It’s an intelligent and proactive AI-powered entry point for requesters with a dead-simple intuitive interface. It provides an intake experience that creates net new business value, and that actually improves and makes more human the process of engaging with internal service teams.

Once we integrated with Open AI, we were able to create the new feature, which empowers internal service teams like procurement and legal by seamlessly incorporating GPT-4 into everyday processes. It does so by providing an AI-powered intake experience for submitting—and proactively resolving—internal requests. 

It’s all about meeting requesters where they are to deliver a superb user experience, creating process experiences that are both easy to follow and that provide real value to requesters. 

The Tonkean AI Front Door supports frictionless service interactions with a plain-language user experience—and is accessible to requesters via email, Slack/Teams, or a customized web portal. It provides intelligent assistance that’s personalized and context-aware, delivering a flexible experience without compromising on policies and anticipating and resolving requests before they come up. 

This, in our mind, is what useful, game-changing AI implementation at the process level looks like. 

Impact and finding market fit

Although Tonkean can help organizations orchestrate automated business processes across industries, teams, and fields, we found especially powerful use cases in legal and procurement. That’s why this year, we launched not one but two suites of solutions—LegalWorks and ProcurementWorks

LegalWorks is a matter lifecycle management solution that enables legal teams to harness the potential of AI-powered process automation technology safely—in a way that not only increases process adoption, improves performance, and creates business value, but that actively lowers risk and better ensures compliance.

LegalWorks enables you to gather requests from anywhere and smartly triage those requests. It automatically handles the simple ones (like NDAs and SOWs) and routes and coordinates the more complex ones to the right person or group.

Many of the solution’s use cases center around the intake experience and include modules like LegalGPT, Legal Matter Intake, Law Firm Onboarding, and Conflict Waiver Processing.    

To enhance LegalWorks, we also launched AI-enhanced legal intake forms. Powered in part by the AI Front Door, the new forms make the experience of initiating and following legal processes more efficient and enjoyable for requesters, thanks to real-time data enrichment from a wide range of plug-and-play integrations and adaptive user-guidance. And of course, they come equipped with a no-code WYSIWYG interface, putting the ability to customize and iterate upon intake experiences directly into the hands of legal operations professionals.

ProcurementWorks is a product suite that puts the power of no-code automation and generative AI directly in the hands of procurement teams, finally giving them what they need to create guided internal buying experiences that reduce risk, increase efficiency, and create net-new business value, via internal processes that people will actually follow. 

Like LegalWorks, ProcurementWorks offers a unified intake experience, and it prominently features the AI Front Door as a central intake channel for all purchase requests. It deploys a wide range of out-of-the-box procurement workflows like PO management, invoice processing, and spend control, and it provides an audit trail of all actions and approvals to mitigate risk and maintain SOX compliance and audit readiness.

Some of the most compelling use cases and related modules include ProcurementGPT, InvoicesGPT, Intake Orchestration for SAP Ariba, and Coupa Intake Experience

Both offer Tonkean’s centralized dashboard for tracking, as well as our 100% no-code workflow editor, so operations teams can easily augment processes and build new ones. Because Tonkean wraps around your existing applications, like Salesforce, Drive, DocuSign, SAP, Coupa, Ironclad, Oracle, SimpleLegal, and more, it’s not a rip-and-replace platform. Instead, Tonkean helps you maximize the tools you already have. 

(By the way, if you want a demo of either of these suites, or of Tonkean generally, start here!)

Lightning round: Product updates, upgrades, and more

We did a lot this year to upgrade, improve, and add to Tonkean—beyond the launches of the AI Front Door, LegalWorks, and ProcurementWorks! 

We push new releases, updates, and bug fixes every month. One of the biggest upgrades was a complete overhaul of form sequences. They allow us to determine exactly what path a user follows as they answer the questions we've added to our various forms. We also transitioned to Workspace Apps and Custom Interface, and we added the ability to allow guest user access to Tonkean. 

We also completely redesigned the visual Process Mapper (part of our Module Builder) to enhance all users' experience and context on their processes. The Process Mapper widget allows you to display a module process map, providing a clearer understanding to requesters and other stakeholders. Simply select the relevant process map you created in the module builder. Displaying process maps helps requesters track the status of their request in real-time. 

We’re constantly adding more native data sources, too. Native data sources are critical to Tonkean because that’s how we integrate with various tools, apps, and solutions to automate tasks and orchestrate workflows. For example, this year we added a key partnership with ClearLaw, an innovative AI company focused on contracting intelligence. Other important data sources we added or improved include Netsuite, Coupa, SAP Ariba, AWS Textract, Google Drive, SharePoint, IronClad, DocuSign, ServiceNow, Azure OpenAI, FiveTran, Jira, Anthropic, and more. 

Here are some eye-popping 2023 Tonkean stats for you to nosh upon as you round out the year. We can boast:

  • 60+ native data sources added
  • 7.7 billion steps automated
  • 288 million requests handled
  • 250 steps automated every second
  • 10 requests handled every second

Presence, education, and thought leadership

Finally, Tonkean, our technology, but also our ideas, have been popping up all over the place this year. 

Industry analysts, media, and influencers have highlighted Tonkean (and why what we make is so valuable) in multiple reports and articles. They include Gartner’s hype cycle for procurement and sourcing, ProcureTech’s list of Pioneering Digital Procurement solutions, Deloitte’s top priorities of leading CPOs, Spend Matter’s Top 50 Procurement Providers to Watch, and Dr. Elouise Epstein’s “map” of the Modern Procurement Platform Stack.

And Tonkean was selected as CLOC and Theorem LTS’s No-Code Platform of the Year!

We’ve made our presence known at key industry events like CLOC CGI 2023 and SIG, both by participating as a vendor on show floors and as thought leaders, speaking at event sessions. 

We’ve also been featured in leading publications and podcasts, including TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Legal Operators, ProcurementMag, and Art of Procurement.

This is all in addition to our own content machine. We’ve created multiple ebooks, surveys, guides, whitepapers, and handbooks, and we’ve hosted numerous webinars. Our blog continues to roll on, as does our Modern Business Operations podcast. Our monthly newsletter, Ops Digest, has grown up enough that we decided to launch two spinoffs—Legal Ops Digest and Procurement Ops Digest (subscribe to any and all of them here).

This past year was a huge one for Tonkean. Not only did we mature tremendously as a company, launching multiple products and upgrades, but we see around us how the things we’ve been driving at for years—the importance of putting people first in business process automation, how process orchestration is critical to maximizing all of your tools, and smart ways to use AI—have become top of mind for so many organizations across different verticals. 

Stay tuned for what we have in store for 2024.

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