The Travel and Expense (T&E) industry is experiencing a rapid evolution in response to the growth of mobile technology. Travel professionals are realizing that they need to modernize their tools and programs for improved efficiency. A study by GBTA foundation, explores that direct booking behavior in employees is becoming increasingly popular, with nearly 42 percent of business travelers regularly contacting the suppliers directly. Employees are sometimes unsatisfied with company preferred tools and therefore they are adopting a self-service approach. Companies are looking towards integrating mobile technology and corporate travel processes; realizing the importance of implementation of streamlined solutions to cater to the needs and requirements of their employees; ensuring the safety and security of employees, especially those traveling on behalf of the company and minimize cost. Amongst the mind-boggling numbers of T&E professionals, SAP Concur® is a name worth mentioning. SAP Concur® (formerly known as Concur Technologies), is the world’s leading provider of expense, travel and invoice management solutions.
When it comes to corporate travel, Duty of Care is an important business challenge for all businesses. Duty of Care is one of the top concerns for organizations today in managing business travel, along with curbing spends and enforcing compliance. Duty of Care takes care of employee’s safety round the clock, even when an employee works from home or remotely. With employees increasingly taking travel plans into their own hands, businesses risk losing track of employees in times of unforeseen crisis be it natural or manmade. Thus, Duty of Care enables organizations to have a caring attitude and a sense of responsibility towards its employees. With global uncertainties on the rise, companies face more pressure than ever to ensure the safety of their travelers. SAP Concur® has created tools to quickly locate and communicate with employees from a flight delay to an emergency evacuation. Concur Locate and Active Monitoring is the first integrated traveler risk management solution that combines 24/7 services to help businesses find and share critical information with employees during a crisis. By aggregating timely, accurate location data from Concur Travel, Expense, Mobile, TripLink, TripIt and supplier e-receipts, businesses can identify traveler locations at a moment’s notice.
Another trend is that many business travelers are using ride sharing services – Uber; Ola and shared accommodation like Airbnb, while on a business trip. The sharing economy is a big push towards being business relevant. Through its robust travel and expense management solution, SAP Concur® is providing clients with greater control and application of travel policies, and enabling seamless processes through an integration of SAP Concur®’s online booking tool and travel request authorization. SAP Concur® currently offers access to low cost carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir along with hotel options like Accor and Airbnb, all of which is absent in traditional channels. With disruption present in every sphere of business today, the relevance of a sharing economy is also growing considerably.
The Differentiating Factor
India is an evolving market for the travel and expense segment and one of the top 20 markets for business travel globally. The estimated expenditure last year on business travel alone was $33 billion and expected to grow at double digit rates. Eyeing this immense opportunity, SAP Concur® has been planning several investments around business travel through booking websites.
SAP Concur® takes companies of all sizes and stages beyond automation to a completely connected spend management solution encompassing travel, expense, invoice, compliance and risk. The company’s global expertise, industry-leading innovation and dynamic ecosystem of diverse partners and applications unlock powerful insights that help businesses reduce complexity and see spending clearly, so they can manage it proactively. The traditional methods of capex investments, building your own solutions, and customizing is not just complicated, but also consumes a lot of time and money. SAP Concur’s idea is to make travel and expense management easier. The company’s innovative solutions improve customer experience for the modern business traveler. Its solution’s integrates the T&E process to give managers visibility, compliance and control over expenses. It enables you to compare spend data, analyse cash flow and eliminate any errors. It’s not just about automation, the company also care about the customer’s needs as well, understanding the relevance of the approach to be taken.
“Every customer is valuable to us and we give our 100 percent to each customer. We are excited about acquiring every new customer and work towards providing value, to build a long-term relationship with them. We have companies across different sectors who have implemented our solutions,” adds Neeraj. Its clientele boasts of names like Welspun, Cognizant, Getty images and Marico, to name a few.
SAP and SAP Concur’s Integration
The travel and expense management market is rapidly escalating with expectations of business travelers requiring more flexibility and personalization as the lines between work and personal life become increasingly blurred. Business travelers in India feel that it is painful to not only deal with the stress of travel but also with the stress of claiming expenses. SAP SE acquired Concur Technologies in September 2014. SAP Concur® believes that digital transformation of an organization should be such that it is easy and intuitive to use and the people using it should be able to reap its benefits. By combining its best-in-class solutions and SAP’s expertise, the company is now in a much stronger position to provide the superlative expense management products to its valuable customers. The team is delighted to be a part of SAP, and with their focus on innovation they are making sure that SAP Concur® remains the best-in-class spend management company. “The combined entities will continue to invest in R&D to provide our customers with unmatched solutions in spend management and invoicing. Furthermore, we believe this will also help businesses of all sizes across geographies to manage spend – across expense, travel and invoice – in the cloud, and with native integration from SAP.” he says.
India is a mobile-first market, with the number of mobile users in the region estimated to be around 730 million. SAP Concur’s financial suite provides an integrated approach towards capturing spend at the source, tracking and evaluating employee expenses. Post GST implementation, Indian companies have become very sensitive and are on the lookout to reduce investments and operational costs. SAP Concur’s automated invoicing solutions have helped companies recover Input Tax, taking companies of all sizes and stages beyond automation to a completely connected spend management solution. “We see a huge potential in the Indian market with the SAP Concur® app integration. Employees also enjoy more flexibility and can effortlessly manage their business travel and expense while being location independent, through SAP Concur’s exceptional end-user experience,” asserts Neeraj.
Employees can easily book travel from a smartphone or desktop browser, while itineraries and credit card charges are automatically and accurately captured. Today, there is greater business travel in India, with employees also working remotely and from home locations, hence the need for an improved Mobile App. The SAP Concur® app has helped build an integrated end-user experience. The company has partnered with 100 plus service providers globally and in India which includes financial integrators, payment companies, hotels and restaurants, travel management companies, cab aggregators and ground transportation companies to benefit its customers. “In the Indian context, we presume to have spreadsheets as our only competitor. Spreadsheets are typically adopted by companies who haven’t understood the concept of spend management and not figured out a way to optimize cost. SAP Concur® proposes an array of solutions to ease the management process,” he further adds.
Concur Travel & Expensesupports multiple currencies and languages, integrates with multiple ERP systems, and can be customized to ensure compliance to your company’s policy. Concur expense automatically calculates the currency exchange rate, complex car-mileage allowances and VAT/GST/HST/FBT. In addition, Concur Travel includes content from multiple global distribution systems, negotiated and published fares, direct connect and web-only fares – offering a wide range of options for business travelers.
Concur Invoice drives financial transformation for businesses across verticals by bringing visibility into every company spend including GST. It not only captures GST information but also provides real-time visibility into the financial components. Concur Invoice automates invoices and integrates invoices with T&E payments into a single system for managing all business spends. SAP Concur® captures paper and electronic invoices, so companies can capture all their AP spending and simplify the entire process – from purchase requests to processing and payment.
Offering a Seamless Business Travel Experience
SAP Concur® is always working relentlessly to increase traveler productivity and satisfaction. This means incorporating the tools and apps they’re already using into its ecosystem. With the rise of business travelers embracing sharing economy, it makes sense for the company to partner with travel industry innovators who are fostering this trend. SAP Concur® has partnered with various aggregators such as Ola, IndioGo, SpiceJet and more. This also leads to better compliance and accuracy, helping businesses see spend clearly and manage it proactively.
SAP Concur® is providing clients with greater control and application of travel policies, and enabling seamless processes through an integration of SAP Concur’s online booking tool and travel request authorization.
SAP Concur® is quite optimistic about the future. A recent study done by the CFO Innovations Asia1 reveals that as many as 74 percent organizations have more than 21 people that travel on business purpose on a regular basis leading to a need for greater visibility and control over the travel and expenses process. Indian enterprises are at a tipping point of technology adoption in terms of managing their travel and expenses (T&E) expenditure. The present system for travel and expense function cites difficulties in obtaining more granular information on individual employee patterns of usage and compliance, and a lack of flexibility in obtaining best pricing for hotels, car rental, and airline costs. Compliance and showcasing information ready for the audit process are other relevant challenges that this industry needs to overcome sooner than later. With successful cloud adoption, systems and processes for the travel business in the organization will see a streamline of operations, resulting in a greater compliance, visibility, and control to deliver better data management to senior managers, and also help improve the audit process.
Happy Employees Make Happy Workers
SAP Concur® strongly believes that happy employees make happy workers. Employees are the backbone and the brand ambassadors of the company. The company takes utmost pride in its people and appreciate their support in building this company. SAP Concur® encourages its employees to think on their own and give them the freedom to take their own decisions without being bogged down by trivial matters. The company is also continuously working on improving the policies for its employees and making SAP Concur® the best place to learn and grow. Some of the policies include paternity leave for men, renewed maternity leave which is six months flexible and six months paid, care for life fund providing up to one lac insurance with education for the child in case of death of an employee, and health insurance for both the parents and dependents.
SAP Concur® also conducts employee engagement programs on a regular basis to keep them motivated. The fact that women attrition has gone down from 27 percent in 2015 to less than 10 percent this year is a testament to its employee-first approach. In addition, the company works steadfastly to support diversity and gender equality in the workplace, with close to 36 percent diversity ratio and nearly 22 percent of its leadership roles are helmed by women.
For India, on the immediate basis, SAP Concur® is looking forward to help organizations take care of their GST obligations and recover their Input Tax credit for travel expenses. Post GST implementation, Indian companies have become very sensitive towards their employees and clients. Customer experience and bottom of the pyramid is the most crucial element here. Indian enterprises are looking out for methods to reduce investments and operational costs, at the same time provide a superlative employee experience. SAP Concur® tend to leverage this, and provide them with tools that cater to the aspirational needs of their employees and ensure business growth in the process.
“We have dealt with countries with similar tax reforms such as Canada, Australia, and UK and do understand the pain points associated with tax reforms. We have built experience of 38,500 customers across the globe in over 60 countries. We keep ourselves very well prepared with respect to tax reforms,” proclaims Neeraj. With GST in India, the company has been constantly responding to the need of its customers and guiding them on the impact of GST on T&E and the efficient use of budget. With end-to-end spend transparency, companies can uncover insights that lend to more effective spend management. As a result, business leaders can make smarter and more informed decisions.
Neeraj Dotel, Managing Director, India and SAARC
With over 21 years of experience in sales and marketing, Neeraj Dotel brings a combination of industry knowledge and thorough understanding of the sales market in India. His work experience cuts across financial services customers, vendors and regulators and an expert on technology in banking, especially around financial inclusion and mobile payments. This experience helps him understand the changing customer requirements across sectors and fine tune the strategy for their products/solutions for the India market.
- CFO Innovations Insight Survey – Commissioned by SAP Concur was conducted in 2013 to February 2014. The respondents included CFOs and other senior executives in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other major Indian cities.
By Rashmisree Deb