The Basics of Bidding with Generative AI

By Caitlin Neate – BidWrite Bid Consultant

Digitised, AI-powered brain graphic overlaying hands typing on a keyboard to represent bidding with generative AI

What is AI?

By now I’m sure you’re well aware of all the hype about the ‘new and exciting developments’ in AI technology. But what is AI and why should you, a bidding professional, care?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not as new as you might think. Although the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ sounds like something straight out of science fiction, it has a long history. It’s evolved through many stages; from the 1950s development of rudimentary neural networks used to transform inputs into outputs, to the boom of Generative AI happening now. 

AI is an umbrella term for any algorithm that can exhibit ‘smart’ behaviour. You may already be familiar with some technologies or processes that are powered by it. Things like Machine Learning (ML), Large Language Models (LLM), Multimodal Foundation Models, Natural Language Processing, Robotic Process Automation and Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPT).

At BidWrite, we broadly conceptualise AI as intelligent technology that uses advanced computing algorithms to augment decision making by identifying meaningful patterns in data.

Generative AI and its use in bidding

Generative AI can be defined as a type of artificial intelligence that can be user-prompted to generate new content. The outputs can take many forms including text, images or even music.

A common misconception is that Generative AI creates content out of nothing. Although alluring, that’s not correct. When prompted by a user, an AI model responds by using the historical data it has been trained on to generate a prediction of the outcome sought by the user. For writers generating text-to-text content, this historical data could be as simple as grammar and writing rules. When using Generative AI in bidding, this historical data could be previous tender submissions or a bid library.

Given that Generative AI is using a defined data set to predict and generate the answer it thinks you want, it stands to reason that if it’s already been ‘fed’ with bid-focused data, its predictions will be more specific and accurate. This makes it a powerful tool for proposal professionals.

For bid writers, Generative AI has many helpful use-cases. It will happily entertain every thought or question you have. You can prompt it to perform all manner of tasks, including: 

  • Text classification
  • Answering natural language questions
  • Summarising and paraphrasing
  • Sentiment analysis
  • AI-optimised searching
  • Language tone checks and rewrites
  • Thesaurus and definition applications
  • Content brainstorming and reviewing.

Think of Generative AI as your personal intern who hasn’t mastered the job yet, but is a quick learner, a willing worker and has infinite patience!  

When it comes to bidding with AI, not all platforms are created equal

AI and its related applications are advancing at a breathtaking pace. So it’s no surprise that the laws and regulations concerning data security and privacy are yet to catch up to the implications of what this technology is capable of.

It’s also no surprise that concerns about this disconnect have caused some large companies to avoid using AI altogether. For example, Samsung banned employee use of Generative AI tools following a sensitive data leak. This ban is an understandable response to known concerns about the commercial use of some AI platforms.

But not all Generative AI tools function in the same way. Many of these concerns can be mitigated through purposeful design, particularly around the type of system the AI operates within, and the purpose for which it has been designed.  

With respect to system design, it’s helpful to consider the fundamental difference between open and closed systems. In simple terms, think of the internet as an open system, whereas an internal intranet is a closed system.

Open and Closed System definitions in relation to bidding with AI.
Figure 1: Open and closed system definitions.

Publicly available AI tools residing on the internet are ‘open system’ tools. Two common examples are OpenAI’s ChatGPT and  Google’s Gemini. While it may be fun to experiment with these tools to see what they can do, that’s a completely different scenario to using them within a professional context like bid writing, where the security of client data and precious IP is paramount.   

In contrast, ‘closed system’ tools exist offline or provide access to carefully restricted data sets. Our own BidWriteGPT is an example of a closed system which we’ve purposefully designed to use our client’s ‘ringfenced’ data in a private environment – effectively removing it from the public domain.

It’s also helpful to consider the purpose for which the AI has been designed. AI doesn’t simply ‘exist’. It is carefully designed and developed to perform certain tasks. In the case of BidWriteGPT, senior BidWrite professionals have worked with developers to help them understand and codify how tendering professionals apply their craft. This resulted in the creation of four AI assistants, each of which performs a specific set of tasks which emulate current bid writing best practice.

So, although it’s possible to use an open and universally available tool to generate your tender response content, it’s a sure bet that tool hasn’t been purposefully designed for the specific use case of tendering.  

When using Generative AI in a bidding context, proceed with caution. Take time to understand the privacy and security implications of the system you are using and consider the benefits of using a ‘built for purpose’ tool.

Generative AI is a tendering tool – not the font of all knowledge

Technology can be incredibly transformative, but at the end of the day it’s simply a tool. As bid writers, the quicker we adapt to emerging technologies, the faster we can leverage these tools to our advantage.

While it’s exciting to use them, it’s incumbent on bid writers to understand the possibilities and limitations. It’s also important to know when and how to use such tools. Consider some of the high-tech gadgets available for your kitchen. Yes, you could use a density sensing, auto-torque adjustable food processor (if such a thing exists). But if you only need to beat some eggs and you know how to use a fork, the best tool to use is a fork. The key is knowing when to use a fork, when to use your kitchen gadgets and when to use both.

And the use of every tool comes with risks. AI is no different. Security engineers and academics often describe AI as ‘intelligent but naive’. So use it carefully. Given its predictive, ‘best educated guess’ nature, always assume that the outputs provided by the Generative AI platform will require human verification in the form of fact checking, proofreading and further editing.

The pace of Generative AI advancement is staggering, as are the possibilities of what it can do. But it’s the overlay of the human touch that elevates its usefulness, especially within a profession such as ours which relies so heavily on fact checking and evidence gathering to create trust and convey authenticity.

If you do your job, AI won’t take your job!

As with any technological advancement, the only people who should fear change are the ones who are unwilling to adapt. Bid writers can simply use AI as a tool to enhance their craft, not replace it.

Why read every prior submission or bid library document in depth, when you can simply prompt your ‘AI intern’ to report on how you’ve answered a particular question previously? Why not use an AI-powered tool to populate the base content of your response? This frees up more of your time to focus on more important things like strategy alignment, finessing persuasive writing elements and adding the human touch. In the end, this is where our specialised bid writing skills set us apart.

So, what’s our prediction for this brave new world? As the uptake in the use of AI tools gathers pace, we’re likely to see an initial profusion of poorly generated content. And this could be a double blow if bid writers choose to rely solely on AI to generate content while also neglecting core skillsets like persuasive writing, storytelling and client-centricity.  

But as AI-enabled bidding becomes our new normal, our tendering skillset will evolve to include proficient prompting. This will improve the odds of AI giving you what you want, as efficiently as possible.

The ability to combine our unique skills and mastery of AI inputs will become an essential differentiator for any bid writer worth their salt, especially for those with their eyes on the horizon.   

Without doubt, AI is a powerful tool. While it’s novel and exciting right now, it will only ever be as good as the human guiding it. Through harnessing the combined potential of Generative AI technology and our hard-won bid consulting expertise, AI-enabled proposal professionals have a unique opportunity to elevate their craft, and their content, to achieve even more outstanding results.

What’s not to like about that?


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