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Why intelligent travel and expense platforms power business growth

Inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain disruptions might sound like a recurring theme, yet the reality is that businesses of all sizes continue to face a steep uphill battle.

Just trying to stand firm and keep the doors open is a daily challenge for business leaders as the costs to keep the lights on and wheels turning continue to climb. It’s hitting hard, especially when it comes to travel and expense (T&E) management. Forrester and SAP Concur research shows that 77 per cent of decision-makers expect an increase in business travel and consider it component of company culture to foster collaboration, spur innovation, and support the dynamics of hybrid work environments. (1)

Additionally, 78 per cent of global decision-makers surveyed want a single solution to manage their entire T&E process. (2) These businesses, often operating with lean teams and limited budgets, want solutions that are both easy to manage and cost-effective. A single T&E management solution that integrates well with their existing technology stack cuts down on the hassle of dealing with multiple platforms and empowers businesses of all sizes with the agility they need to quickly navigate and adapt to the constantly evolving environment.

However, while some savvy business leaders have already taken the plunge to keep ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge, one of the biggest problems for lagging businesses is the snail-paced move towards automation. This delay leads to an increase in manual tasks and a greater likelihood of errors. And, when mistakes happen in business, they’re not just ‘oops’ moments, they can be costly.

There’s also a significant blind spot in many businesses: a lack of clear insights into spending patterns. Without a keen understanding of where the money is going, business leaders struggle to make sound financial decisions. Forrester and SAP Concur data reveals that 61 per cent of decision-makers believe their businesses’ finance leaders don’t have enough visibility into near-real-time employee data, emphasising the need for improved financial management tools. (3)

Intelligent T&E platforms, which seamlessly manage both travel and expenses, offer real-time insights into employee data by integrating with various data sources, including corporate credit cards and human resources (HR) systems. They leverage real-time analytics, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse spending patterns, monitor policy compliance, and detect potential fraud. These platforms are accessible via mobile applications for immediate data capture and feature customisable dashboards for tailored reporting. They also automatically enforce company policies and provide valuable insights into employee spending behaviours, all while integrating seamlessly with a business’s financial systems for a comprehensive financial overview.

The real-world impact of these intelligent T&E platforms is clear. Businesses using these systems have reported a 32 per cent reduction in the time taken to approve expenses, a 28 per cent reduction in mileage excess claims, and a 26 per cent reduction in budget overspending due to increased visibility into spending data. (4)

Regardless of the size of the business and the working model followed, the complexity in managing T&E has escalated, particularly concerning data security and compliance. Intelligent T&E platforms employ advanced encryption technologies to protect sensitive data both in transit and at rest. They incorporate robust access control with multi-factor authentication (MFA), ensuring that only authorised personnel can access the system. Additionally, they provide comprehensive audit trails and reporting features for transparent operations, which is crucial for internal and external audits. With policy enforcement features that automatically adhere to company policy and spending limits, these platforms minimise fraud risk while maintaining compliance.

In the past few years, corporate T&E management has seen major changes. Now, T&E management is recognised for its key role in driving efficiency and growth, moving away from being seen just as a back-office task. Its influence now reaches into different areas of business, like financial management, employee engagement, and strategic planning. For business leaders with their eyes on the future, staying agile is key. That means picking a T&E management solution that meshes well with existing technology stacks to keep them one step ahead.

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Fabian Calle

Fabian Calle

Fabian Calle is the managing director for small and medium business (SMB) at SAP Concur, Australia and New Zealand. With his extensive experience working with SMBs in the computer software industry, Fabian understands the business challenges that SMBs face and how leveraging technologies can streamline business processes.

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