Corporate travel and expense management has made leaps in adopting new technologies in 2016. Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are all taking off in the space, suggesting corporate travelers and their managers are ready to adopt innovations that make their lives easier — both to travel and to manage corporate funds. Digital payments aid businesses in tracking, reporting and analyzing money spent while on business trips.
Bob Neveu, CEO of T&E firm Certify, tells PYMNTS what his predictions are for the T&E industry overall in 2017, as well as how these existing trends will continue to play out for businesses and their traveling employees.
If history is any indication, corporate travel and entertainment expense management technology is poised to drive even greater operational efficiency across the enterprise in the year ahead. Here are two growing trends we can expect to see more of in 2017.
More robots (and true automation) will rise
The benefits of automation are undeniable, including the efficiencies that come from integrating accounting, human resources and other corporate systems. Still, several leading expense reporting solutions today use a mix of computer automation and human facilitators to parse receipt data, advance workflows and manage other critical processes. These hybrid systems often lack the immediacy of true automation and reintroduce the potential for human error — a big reason why many turn to automation in the first place. So, that’s just not going to work anymore. In 2017, we’ll see demand grow for automation technology that virtually eliminates the need for human intervention in processing expense reports and receipt data. Business travelers and accounting professionals will always have an essential role, and improvements in true automation will allow them to focus on what they do best.
Fewer barriers, less friction
More than ever before, 2016 was an amazing year for partnerships and vendor integrations in the corporate travel space. It used to be that an integrated travel booking solution for air, hotel and car rental was the apex of convenience and control. But today, major players in the business travel space — vendors like Uber, for example — are able to offer one-tap access to a number of leading integrated expense reporting platforms (including Certify). This enables the automatic capture of expense data in the employee expense report, so there are no receipts and no additional steps. Of course, reducing friction in the process makes a service more convenient for the business traveler, and the closed-loop expense transaction streamlines processing and improves security for the company. Looking ahead to 2017, the world of corporate T&E will surely see the formation of more travel vendor integrations and partnerships like the one described here. The potential is nearly limitless, and we’ve seen how the model pioneered by Uber is already taking off with Lyft, Airbnb and other business travel brands.
The other side of this trend is the reality that paper receipts are going away, and leading-edge T&E systems need to be able to help companies manage this revolutionary shift. One feature that‘s going prove essential to this effort in the coming year will be the ability to capture electronic payments. The T&E systems of the future must bring the same level of credibility and authenticity to mobile pay, virtual credit cards and other forms of electronic payment that hardcopy paper receipts enjoy today.
-Bob Neveu, CEO, Certify