The big action in corporate spend management is travel and entertainment (T&E), where the 800-pound gorilla has long been Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) goliath, SAP Concur. Now, in the spirit of creative disruption (and seeking a bigger slice of the $2.5 billion expense management pie), a group of competitors has merged into a new company to challenge SAP’s category dominance.
In January 2020, K1 Investment Management completed three years of M&A activity in this sector, creating a new spend management software firm called Emburse from the combination of Abacus, Captio, Certify, Chrome River, Nexonia and Tallie. The assortment of dedicated corporate spending products from Emburse (vendor payments, employee expenses and fleet management among them) integrate core features of each brand into a new unified solution.
The March 2020 PYMNTS Workforce Spend Tracker gets into that deal, and complex marketplace dynamics behind it, as we gauge spend management shifts in early 2020.
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With the debut of Emburse, pundits are applying “next gen” to current goings-on in the spend management software space. As application programming interfaces (APIs) and digital banking promise unheard of levels of control, companies are eyeing the 40 percent or more of revenues that go to spend — and specifically, how much can drop to the bottom line by using artificial intelligence and accounts payable automation in creative new ways.
“A recent study found that 95 percent of companies were likely to invest in and deploy improved spend management platforms over the next two years,” the Workforce Spend Tracker states, “and many are doing so to enable audits and increase expense-filing transparency. Numerous developers are providing smarter tools that tap artificial intelligence (AI), which can both automate expense filing to make life easier for employees and detect the errors or policy violations that save companies a fortune in improper reporting.”
Issues around spend management were complicated before gig workers became roughly half the U.S. labor force. Bunches of freelancers and indie contractors racking up expenses in a company’s name on a mishmash of their personal cards, cash and prepaid corporate cards sounds like a treasury nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. New solutions and use cases in workforce spend management are clearing up the process.
A Reliance on Compliance
Systems at the forefront of spend management look for needles in haystacks of spend data (and find them). The Workforce Spend Tracker discusses how the U.S. federal government and over a half-dozen individual states are tinkering with wage- and expense-related law that require compliance. Newer AI-powered spend management systems can handle this rules processing and compliance at scale, which has become indispensable functionality.
“Automation means business owners and accountants can allocate less time to reviewing and processing expense reports while knowing that AI-powered systems will flag potentially problematic transactions,” according to the latest Tracker. “The technology can also remove looming paperwork from the picture, helping workers focus on their assignments in the field.”