Digital Transformation Positively Impacting CFO’s Job: Concur

Concur is helping businesses drive expense visibility, whereby CFOs are able to decide expense entitlement, before the travel comes into play

Neeraj Dotel, MD, India & SAARC, Concur.

Concur Technologies is an American SaaS company, providing travel and expense management services to businesses. A cloud-based service, Concur provides an integrated online and mobile business travel and expense management software solution that automates your travel expenses. Concur has a travel, expense and invoice solution for you which is quick and cost-effective to deploy.

Neeraj Dotel, MD, India & SAARC, Concur, tells us more. Excerpts:

BW CIO: How has the Concur Expense Tool been received in India?

Neeraj Dotel: India is in the throes of a digital transformation with digital adoption spanning all businesses across the corporate spectrum. IDC reports that work process automation in companies is leading to increased employee productivity, more cost savings and reduced time spent on expenses management with a lesser propensity for errors. Automation is also resulting in better compliance practices in organizations through efficient management.

A recent CFO Innovation Asia Study, reveals that, in India, about 39 percent organizations are fully automated, with online processes for employee travel and expense. Around 23 percent organizations use a mix of methods for travel and expense, indicating that automation is catching up in India.

Digital transformation is positively impacting the CFO’s job, in terms of value proposition, visibility, employee productivity and compliance. Concur is offering CFOs end-to-end solutions that automatically synchronize financial data across the entire employee spend process, right from pre-spend approval to reconciliation.

With Concur, companies can automate expenses and streamline business travel, save their employees’ time, and have more visibility into important line items, helping them focus on what matters most.

In India, post the GST implementation, Concur has assisted over one million organizations in recovering Input Tax Credit, enabling streamlined spend management and achieving compliance within statutory requirements.

Concur’s integrated solutions consolidate spend data, control expenses, enable accurate and faster reimbursements, and have massive visibility into spend. 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.

With the Concur App integration, employees also enjoy more flexibility, and effortlessly manage their business travel and expense, while being location independent, through Concur’s exceptional end-user experience.

Today, there is greater business travel penetration in India, due to an improved end-user experience. Mobile apps have helped build a positive end user experience for Concur users. A mobile app for expense on the go that eliminates paperwork is useful and handy, especially when it works like a platform.

BW CIO: Elaborate on salient features, key benefits and impact of implementing this system.

Neeraj Dotel: Concur creates innovative, mobile solutions that improve customer experience for the modern business traveler. It enables them to manage entire travel and expense processes on the go, while providing travel managers with real-time spend and risk visibility, leading to improved compliance and control over expenditure. Our integrated solutions compare upcoming, actual and previous spend data; analyze company cash flow and working capital, and eliminate error incidents.

A few key benefits post the Concur solutions implementation are:

Compliance: It delivers consumer-grade TE&I experiences towards better compliance and accuracy, helping businesses see spend clearly and manage it proactively.

Automates T&E management: It eliminates the need for physical receipts and itineraries, enabling more accurate and faster reimbursements for employees.

Travel: It provides travel managers control and real-time, end-to-end risk visibility into employee travel spend, helping achieve policy compliance and overcome blind spend.

Invoicing: It simplifies and streamlines accounts payable processing by integrating with any ERP or accounting system, saving time and ensuring vendor compliance.

Intelligence: It integrates all data collected onto one platform for effortless analysis, allowing better budget management and discount negotiations.

Messaging: Its messaging congregates all employee location and itinerary data in one dynamic map, serving as a key communication and risk management platform, fulfilling a company’s Duty of Care.

End-user benefits: App Centre
Concur’s App Centre empowers users with a collection of rich and connected travel-related Apps that ease the inconveniences of business travel and expense reporting. More than a 100 Apps are available to travelers, on a single platform, at their fingertips, that help them easily connect to an entire ecosystem of solutions such as travel documentation, expense management, flight bookings, luggage concierge services and more. Thus, Concur makes travel seamless and effortless for travelers on the move.

Impact: Concur’s end-user experience helps it differentiate itself over other partner apps, in that it allows travelers the ability to manage travel and expense digitally on one platform, using their smart mobile devices while being on the road.  It also allows finance managers visibility into travel and spend in real-time, leading to better compliance practices.  

BW CIO: What are the challenges that you face in the Indian market and how are you overcoming them?

Neeraj Dotel: GST implementation is a crucial concern in the Indian market. The Deloitte Annual CFO Survey highlights GST as one of the top priorities for at least 31 percent of the CFOs from the Manufacturing & Technology, and Media & Telecommunications sectors. The survey reveals that major business activities are largely centralized, namely, in-house activities such as long-term financing, working capital, M&A, and business planning and strategy.

For 69 percent CFOs, compliance is of near-term importance in a changing regulatory environment. Internal control and process streamlining is also expressly essential for 61 percent CFOs. Technology integration and upgradation, and analytics solutions also dominate the CFOs agenda, as technology and analytics become important for strategic decision making in organizations.

With GST and digitization in the picture, we have been consistently responding to customers’ needs, guiding them on the impact of GST on T&E and the efficient utilization of T&E budgets in the current economic scenario. For example, capturing GST information on T&E spends to claim Input Tax Credit, or tweaking T&E policies through vendor negotiations.

Concur is helping businesses drive expense visibility, whereby CFOs are able to decide expense entitlement, before the travel comes into play. Businesses have visibility on where and how their employees travel and spend, while employees have the freedom to travel without pre-approvals and claim reimbursements faster.

Concur is adding value to long-term finances and working capital, through internal control and streamlined processes. It enables faster decision making, real time analytics, and upfront spend management through visibility, leading to better compliance and return on investment.

BW CIO: How has Concur been creating an ecosystem by partnering with cab aggregators, travel agencies and hotels for a seamless business travel experience?

Neeraj Dotel: The sharing economy is a big push towards being business relevant, and includes, ride sharing and lodging services. According to a recent Carlson Wagonlit Travel Management Institute study, 43 percent travel managers consider the sharing economy an important trend. Business travelers today are embracing the sharing economy of accommodation and transportation; using services like Uber, Grab, Didi Chuxing and Ola locally.

Through our robust travel and expense management solution, Concur is providing clients with greater control and application of travel policies, and enabling seamless processes through an integration of Concur’s online booking tool and travel request authorization.

Concur now offers access to low-cost carriers such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, along with hotel options, like Accor and Air B&B, all of which has been absent in the traditional channels. With disruption present in every sphere of business today, the relevance of a sharing economy is also growing considerably.

BW CIO: What are the three trends related to travel & expense management?

Neeraj Dotel: Those would be:

Employee-direct business travel booking behavior is growing: Today, technology and mobility is allowing business travelers innumerable travel choices, at their fingertips. In fact , a direct booking is more appealing to employees and is seeing an uptake as a matter of convenience, choice, cost-savings and custom experience. According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), 42 percent travelers prefer to book directly on a supplier’s website.

Out of policy spend is a norm: Consumer-driven travel behavior and expectations are leading employees to book with their preferred suppliers directly. This causes compliance issues, as more spends happen outside of company policy. According to a recent GBTA study commissioned by Concur, companies identify direct booking as a growing problem.

Yet, many have not implemented tools to pull this spend into managed programs. A majority of travel managers rely exclusively on travel data captured through an OBT or TMC to locate their travelers, leaving an incredibly large number of travelers unaccounted for during a crisis.

Bleisure (a combination of business and leisure): Asian business travelers are twice as likely to make business travel bookings that include weekends (12 percent), with 48 percent usually extending business trips for leisure. This is highly evident amongst travelers in India, China, and Indonesia. A travel policy that provides flexibility for such travel, while maintaining company’s interests and considering safety and security is increasingly important.

BW CIO: How does Concur support the safety of business travellers with Duty of Care?

Neeraj Dotel: When it comes to corporate travel, Duty of Care is an important business challenge. The Business Travel Show 2017 forecast  reveals Duty of Care as one of the top concerns for organizations in managing business travel, along with curbing spends and enforcing compliance. Duty of Care is defined by organisational culture and the local context under which an organisation operates.

In all of Asia, as also in India, relationships with co-workers are highly valued.  Most companies are going out of their way to strengthen employee relations through people first policies. This also includes, ensuring the safety and security of employees, especially those traveling on behalf of the company. This is a moral and legal responsibility for the employer.

Duty of Care looks at employee travel and employee safety, 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 crises.Thus, Duty of Care enables organisations to have a caring attitude and a sense of responsibility towards its employees.

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