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Navigating the Conversational AI Market: Why Bake-Offs are the New RFPs


June 30, 2023

Navigating the Conversational AI Market: Why Bake-Offs are the New RFPs

Discover how Bake-Offs transform the conversational design industry by offering a more efficient, hands-on approach to vendor selection and hyperautomation.

Home > Blog > Navigating the Conversational AI Market: Why Bake-Offs are the New RFPs

As organizations increasingly aim for hyperautomation, traditional Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are being replaced by Bake-offs in various industries. This article delves into the benefits of this shift and provides valuable guidelines for the evaluation process.


The Rise of Bake-offs

Bake-offs are gaining traction over RFPs as they offer a hands-on, efficient approach to identifying solutions that meet organizational needs. While RFPs can be thorough, they often involve lengthy requirements gathering and implementation processes that may not suit organizations seeking flexibility and speed. 

Selecting vendors in the realm of conversational AI and hyperautomation is a matter of finding the best experience. This critical experiential design component is nearly impossible to decipher from the mountains of content and checkboxes in a typical RFP. 

These technologies need to be experienced first-hand in order to make informed decisions. Judging a chef’s abilities based on their resume and accolades wouldn’t be nearly as effective as tasting their food. This journey is no different

The Advantages of Participating in Competitive Bake-offs

Accelerated decision-making

A two- or three-day POC Bake-off can significantly expedite vendor selection and procurement processes compared to traditional RFPs. We recommend giving all of your vendors the same amount of time so that you can really compare what they are able to do with the given amount of time (usually 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on the complexity of the build).

Enhanced adaptability

Hyperautomation requires design input from individuals with diverse technical abilities across an organization – but this isn’t possible with many of the vendors on the market. Bake-offs allow businesses to assess whether a solution can be implemented quickly and easily without extensive technological expertise.

Live demos

Bake-offs enable companies to witness firsthand how solutions address their specific challenges, making it easier to evaluate potential vendors and platforms.

Improved collaboration

Bake-offs foster interactive and collaborative environments, ensuring better alignment between chosen solutions and organizational needs.

Guidelines for a Successful Bake-Off

  1. Define objectives and evaluation criteria. Determine your hyperautomation goals and establish criteria for evaluating platforms or vendors.
  2. Select the right participants. Invite vendors or platforms with proven expertise in conversational design and hyperautomation.
  3. Encourage competition and collaboration. Motivate vendors to showcase their best solutions while collaborating with your organization to address specific challenges.
  4. Evaluate results objectively. Assess POCs based on predefined criteria to make informed decisions.

What Does a Bakeoff look like at OneReach.ai?

“When we start a bakeoff process, we set goals collaboratively with prospects. Clearly defined success criteria are a must-have before we begin. There is a dedicated project manager on the OneReach.ai side that handles the bakeoff. Our prospective customers give us tasks and see how we build solutions. We show one or more rapid prototypes and also show our customers how we build them. The prototypes we share include demos of both the happy path (best-case scenario) of the conversational solution and exception handling when something goes wrong.”

Kevin Fredrick, Managing Partner at OneReach.ai

RFPs vs Bake-Offs: A Comparison


Criteria Request for Proposal (RFP) Bake-Off
Process Formal, structured Agile, hands-on
Timeframe Often lengthy Faster (2-3 days for POC)
Focus Written proposals Live demos (POC)
Collaboration Limited Enhanced
Evaluation Based on written submissions Experiential
Creativity Restricted by proposal format Encouraged, more innovative
Team dynamic Siloed, difficult to decipher Inclusive, widely sharable
Flexibility Low High


RFPs are often extensive due to the intricacies of hyperautomation. A brief proof-of-concept trial could expedite these procedures. 

Yet, not all organizations have fully transitioned from RFPs to these trials; often, both are combined in the procurement process. If you need guidance on what to query in your RFP or during a trial, feel free to schedule a call with us.

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