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Report: India Jumping To Automated Expense Management

In a digital world, it comes as no surprise that companies are trying to find the best automated options for all aspects of their business. While organizations in India may have come late to the party in certain respects, recent data indicates that nationally enterprise is making great strides—particularly when it comes automating the travel and expense management process.

The corporate travel experience doesn’t need to be filled with heartache, and yet even well into the second decade of the digital age it often is.  But maybe not for long, as travel managers all over the globe scramble to find both the technologies and the best ways to integrate that tech into expense management. As India becomes an increasingly important player on that world stage, perhaps come as no great shock that they now find themselves joining the growing list of locales where working to keep businesses satisfied when fine-tuning their travel needs as become new the news gospel of T&E Management.

According to a recent survey by Concur, mobility, visibility and control are the top challenges for Indian businesses when it comes to managing travel and expenses of staff.

The survey also found that about 75 of the interviewed companies have a significant proportion of people in their organization who travel for business. Furthermore, 50 percent of the CFOs surveyed said more than 50 people across all functions in their businesses travel both domestically and internationally.

Finally, the study also showed that 68 percent of respondents believe that by automating the travel and expense (T&E) processes, their company can save on increased airfare and other travel-related expenses. One of the main up-drivers of corporate costs, according to the polled executives, is the delay of five days in a travel approval that can increase airfare costs by 10 percent—at a minimum.

The T&E Drawback

That automating T&E systems is the way of the future, seems to be a complete no-brainers a new Forrester Research survey, indicates that T&E managers are simple not quite convinced enough to inspire mass adoption.

According to the data, T&E is among the most difficult of expense categories to control. Among financial managers polled worldwide, 24 percent believe T&E to be in the top  three most challenging operating expenses. Moreover, the report indicated that 80 percent of those surveyed are not using an automated tool for the process, and employees are instead manually entering expenses. According to the report’s author’s, this is a time consuming process that will likely lead to employee dissatisfaction.

Additionally, Forrester found that 59 percent of surveyed firms still rely on spreadsheets and 42 percent can’t import data from other systems.

“This means that these companies are not able to fully understand their external travel spending, identify opportunities for negotiated discounts with vendors, or initiate supplier consolidation,” the researchers explained, as reported by Business Travel News.

In order to combat these issues, Forrester suggested several options. According to the researchers, businesses can find greater success by deploying a system and processes that provide informative reports to help managers monitor and control a firm’s spend. Additionally, leveraging tools that identify cost-saving opportunities, provide negotiated discounts and present upgrade opportunities as employees book travel can also be beneficial.

“Most firms wait for their employees to manually enter their T&E data after the expenditure is already made,” the report stated. “The resulting T&E reporting process focuses on retrospective compliance and budgeting. … Companies are not realizing the benefits of visibility into T&E spending before it occurs.”

Digital Data.

Earlier this month, IBM teamed up with Concur to offer cloud-based travel and expense management solutions to consumers around the globe. IBM will actively promote Concur’s cloud-based management platform to their own Expense Reporting Solutions clients, while IBM clients will continue to receive Global Process Service and Business Process Outsourcing operations support.

Along the same lines as cloud computing, there are some experts who believe that data is truly a powerful tool, and has the potential to push the T&E aspect of the corporate world forward.

In April, PYMNTS.com sat down with MasterCard’s Group Head for Global Commercial Products Richard Crum, and talked about the changing world of corporate travel. According to Crum, more companies are slowly being able to leverage data, can invest in raw information and then turn it into information sets to make travel management decisions.

Essentially, Crum said, data is the  “currency most in play” for creating and fine-tuning corporate travel strategy.

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