ChatGPT had barely started making headlines outside tech and geek circles near the end of 2022 when Martin proposed BQ15’s tech theme. Just three months later, it’s hard to have any conversation around tech without mentioning ChatGPT, then AI, and inevitably, the future of work.
It’s not like AI is new. It’s just that most of us – me included – had not quite realised how close that future (which we had been eyeing wearily from a distance) actually is. This was despite me being closer than most to the tech industry in the bid profession.
We’ve been hearing about the possibilities and potential of AI for over a decade. But up until a year or two ago, we’d only seen a fraction of these go from ideation to practical application. An even smaller fraction trickled into the business software we use and rely on every day, with features that deliver tangible value. Some of these have been trivial, some very useful, and some have been called game changers.
Now though, with the emergence of ChatGPT and similar AI technologies in the mainstream, it feels like we’re in the middle of a monumental shift. It is not unlike when the first iPhone came out, with its absent physical keyboard buttons and its apps for everything.
Nothing was ever the same for smartphones after that; more importantly, it changed the way we live and work. There’s no going back. It feels like these new, incredibly smart and fast technologies have a similar potential to disrupt. Some say for the better and others say for the worse.
I thought it would be interesting to have ChatGPT perform a sentiment analysis on BQ15’s articles. The result would give a sense of where the panel of contributors stands (in terms of their real-world experience with technology as bid professionals) and where they see all this going.
Of the 19 articles analysed, 53% are positive or mostly positive.
That’s not very high when compared to the promises made by the makers of bid and proposal software. To be fair though, 36% of articles took a neutral position, and only 11% leaned towards more negative sentiments.
I then asked ChatGPT to extrapolate a bullet point list of all the common positive points, negative points, and recommendations from our various contributors.
The result was a total of 13 negative points, 21 positive points, and a whopping 35 different recommendations around various aspects of bid and proposal software. These ranged from best practices for content libraries, to bid and proposal software implementations, to selecting the right tools, to embracing technology. You can rest assured this edition of BQ is PACKED with good advice!
While I consider myself to be about 65% pragmatist and 35% enthusiast when it comes to technology in general, I wholeheartedly agree with those who stress technology is not a silver bullet that can magically solve all problems, particularly not people or process problems. Technology still needs people and process solutions which can then be enabled (or not) with technology. Otherwise, those problems will only be amplified and you’ll end up doing more of the wrong things faster.
And as for the massive shifts we’re seeing in AI, there are some legitimate concerns – but mostly a lot of cautious optimism. The future may be here but it is still early days. There are many more lessons to be learnt as software providers beta test new AI capabilities with real life professionals, and see if it performs as well in practice as envisioned in theory. Most agree humans are not likely to be replaced any time soon but will instead see a shiny new set of tools augmenting their toolbox.
It has been staggering to see the volume of existing software categories as we develop BQ Tech, the ultimate A-Z tech guide for bid and proposal professionals. It is a daunting task to catalogue the growing list of features and normalise feature descriptions. We don’t want to standardise everything. We do want to make it easier to match capabilities to business requirements, figure out if a piece of technology is the right one to help implement best practices where they are needed most, and elevate your business to new heights.
We can’t wait to put BQ Tech in your hands. Until then, BQ15 does a fantastic job of sharing relatable experiences, disseminating wisdom, and hopefully shaping the right conversations for those who are considering embarking on (or re-inventing) their journey into Bid and Proposal tech.
Bid Solutions disclaimer: The content of several articles has NOT been edited as AI has been used.
In this issue
In “The Nerd, The Luddite and The Common Ground”, Pippa Birch and Darrell Woodward debate about how technology is used, whether it can be trusted and if it will ultimately eliminate the ‘human touch’ in bid submissions.
In “AI in Proposals (Beyond ChatGPT)” Javier Escartin offers two perspectives on how AI can help in bidding and proposals – professionals and businesses. He provides context around what AI really is, explains how AI Large Language Models (LLMs) are game changers right now and offers some educated guesses about its use in three years and ten years from now.
Nigel Dennis’s engaging article “Is This Our Kodak Moment?” looks at emerging technology through the lens of the Kodak company’s failure to embrace digital photography – even though one of their staff invented the first digital camera. He details his concerns about the risks current technology presents with its automation tools, online forums and open source chat forums.
In “Poor Proposals Faster”, Jon Williams provides a nine-step plan to ensuring your knowledge base content truly adds value. He raises the point that implementing and maintaining a library of good pre-written content is fundamental – and has been since the advent of proposal content management software on the market over 25 years ago.
Picture this: you’re checking out all of the fantastic bidding tech on offer, and you can’t wait to drive efficiencies and improve your bids (and maybe make your life easier!). But then… you find out you can’t get approval, don’t have the budget, or the business just doesn’t have the appetite for it.
Jon Darby asks, “Is Technology a Solution Looking for a Problem?” He discusses the change from technology enabling people to technology taking over with the advent of AI. Jon sets out a potential future where bidding will become machine-to-machine interactions for both suppliers and clients.
Ceri Mescall’s thoughtful article “From Paper to Prompts: The Evolution of Technology in Bid Development” offers insight on the past (the days of hard copy submissions and Blackberry devices), the recent past to present (pandemic-driven remote working, virtual meetings and presentations) and the future (arguments for and against the use of generative AI).
Chris Kälin’s article “Get the Basics Right First!” aims to ensure an understanding of basic, advanced and complex tools – what they are and what they will bring to your bidding work. He explains how basic tools can make life easier without investing a fortune and suggests ways to ensure the advanced and complex tools are really right for you.
Kathryn Potter’s article “Tech Transformation: Or Should That Be Tech AND Transformation?” clarifies the importance of knowing what you want any software or technology solution to achieve, how it will be implemented and what transformation activities will need to be undertaken to realise the desired benefits.
In “Leveraging the Art of the Possible”, Samantha Burns asks why technology is causing such a stir, why it needs to be meaningful and add value and how you can use existing AI tools to do more, faster. Her list of AI tools adaptable for use in bids and proposals serves as a brief “how to” for streamlining the data AI presents.
Michael Brown’s article “Artificial Intelligence in Proposals: The Debate” describes four types of technology users: the Enthusiast, Sceptic, Pragmatist and Luddite. He explains each point of view and notes both the potential benefits and drawbacks from each perspective. He offers a balanced (but not categorical) conclusion to the debate.
Full confessional disclosure – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not something I have dwelled upon in my career as a bid professional. AI is something I have always associated with robotics in a high security lab somewhere, not a tool that could be used to enhance and streamline bidding work.
In her article “The Only Question to Ask is Which?”, Rita Mascia recounts 10 years of experience with bidding technology. She provides a step-by-step list of top tips for ensuring the technology you’re considering will meet your needs before it is purchased – which departments should be involved, who should be responsible for what, implementation and ongoing budget considerations.
Larissa Cornelius’s article “Going Down the Rabbit Hole” considers our need to understand AI, how it works and its potential impact on our industry and job security. She shares her personal perspective on these matters and suggests competitive advantages may be lost if AI is not being used in your business.
In “Procuring Technology is a Team Effort”, Beth Wallace explores how best to implement digital solutions in your business, and which teams you should engage with for support. She explains how each team (Technology, Procurement, etc) can contribute to ensuring you understand your company’s requirements before contacting suppliers for information.
Peter McPartland’s article “Harvesting Data Science to Quantify Benefits” is a discussion on gathering data driven evidence. He explains how data science experts are becoming catalysts in business by uncovering new patterns, trends, correlations and relationships and showing their impact on solutions.
In “People First Digital Transformation”, Jeremy Brim suggests following wider principles of organisational transformation when considering technological implementation. A team approach should include sponsorship, clear objectives and roles, a business case to explain the anticipated benefits and increased supplier engagement will ensure your people buy into the technology before it’s actually bought.
Sarah Hinchcliffe uses her article “Technology: Love It or Hate It?” to present both sides of that argument from a personal perspective. She hates the loss of traditional skills but admits our profession will need technology – the right kind with the right training, balanced with the expertise of bid professionals.
In “Death by Technology”, Andy Haigh admits to being “old school” when it comes to technology. He laments the loss of bidding war rooms and the introduction of multi-layered online security measures. He prefers writing responses from scratch rather than using response database tools. He advocates for teams working face to face, using the software they’re comfortable.