Concur Predicts Top Five Corporate Travel and Expense Management Trends in Asia in 2016

Deployment of fully automated systems expected to accelerate and streamline travel and expense management processes significantly

SINGAPORE, 28 January, 2016 - Concur, an SAP company providing integrated travel and expense management solutions, today announced their top five predictions for 2016 in travel and expense (T&E) management trends for businesses in Asia. Concur has taken the lead in Asia as the only vendor in the industry to have commissioned this study* that investigates how companies are tackling T&E related issues. The report, with inputs from 363 Chief Financial Officers and finance executives in Asia, unearths rich data and insights into how companies are considering automation of their T&E to optimize savings. The research outcome is timely and will serve as a guide to financial decision-makers who are finalizing budgets for the new financial year.

(I) Mobility: Adoption of mobile technologies to manage T&E on the go

The Concur commissioned study reveals that integrating mobile technology with T&E capabilities is on the rise in ASEAN with Singapore leading the way. 78% of respondents describe their system as manual or a combination of manual and automated. Companies are making this shift in stages, with most of them already allowing approval processes through smart devices and introducing scanning and receipt upload features for reimbursement. Singapore has a higher proportion of companies that have fully automated compared with others in ASEAN, 26% to 19%.

This survey confirms that ability to manage T&E processes from the mobile device brings numerous benefits including convenience, speed and seamlessness. Users are greatly satisfied with automated T&E systems where they can manage key expense, travel and invoice-related tasks—wherever they are, and right from their smartphone. This encourages quick receipt submissions leading to timely reimbursements. Mobile capability ensures overall better visibility into T&E spends for the employee and the employer.

(II) Business Analytics: Adoption of data analytics for full visibility of T&E transactions

With ever increasing amounts of data, especially financial and transactional information that companies tackle on a daily basis, the need for analytics tools is becoming critical. T&E transactions are an area that need strict monitoring, so companies can manage overall spends and avoid fraudulent activities.

According to the Concur study, the three most frequently detected items by financial decision makers are 1) potential fraud, 2) violation of anti-bribery laws and other regulations, and 3) supplier rebates and volume discounts.  Around 50% of companies in Asia fail to capture this critical information thus indicating the clear need for sophisticated analytics tools that can issue timely alerts to flag any fraudulent practices and provide transparency. The right T&E business intelligence tools will ensure visibility into supplier ecosystems, compliance with corporate policy, all T&E spends as well as help reduce the expense-reimbursement time gap. 

Adoption of business intelligence for T&E systems will increase significantly this year so that executives, managers and employees can act on potential fraud and non-compliance before they happen, manage better budgets and forecast more accurately.

(III) Automation: Full automation of T&E systems to improve productivity

Results from the study show that over half of the respondents in Asia plan to fully automate their T&E systems, moving away from manual or semi-automated processes, for example managing T&E in spreadsheet and email. 50% of Singaporean companies have demonstrated strong intention to upgrade to full automation. This is driven by user experience. Executives already using fully automated processes are more satisfied with their systems across all metrics, including full visibility of transactions, timely reporting, and compliance with policies and regulations, which is important for Asian companies. 

Automation of T&E systems will be introduced in stages so employees can adapt well. Full automation will guarantee a company’s satisfaction with monitoring all T&E processes, generating insights, and detecting fraud in real-time seamlessly. This will in turn positively impact workflow, increasing efficiencies across the board.

(IV) Integration: End-to-end visibility to all financial data

A typical organization is comprised of many layers of teams and hierarchy, different departments and functions, even different offices, resulting in a multitude of spends that needs efficient tracking. This requires seamless integration between T&E system and existing business-critical applications such as financial and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. Such integration of the company’s travel and expense data with ERP allows real time automatic update between systems whenever changes happen.

Integration of T&E data with key business systems or applications is essential and brings heightened advantage to the enterprise, letting it connect primary pieces of business spend, connect diverse travel content, connect to teams when they are on the road, and more. The high level visibility on financial data brings business insights. With the globalization of businesses, many companies will deploy T&E integration with other functions to gain a better understanding of transactions, simplify operations, improve workflow and manage overall company spends.

(V) Cost control: Improving the bottom-line

Business travel constitutes an essential part of a company’s overall revenue. This is also impacted by the preferences of executives who undertake travel. Convenience is the biggest factor for business travelers and plays a big role in a company’s overall spending. For instance, respondents from Singapore noted that top priority for hotel selection is location near the workplace. The Concur study tells us that the annual budget for T&E spend in Asia can be significant, with 7 out of 10 respondents noting T&E spend to be 5% of company revenue. 18% of respondents in Asia put T&E spends at 5-10% of revenue.
 
A fully automated system will effectively help the company achieve better financial performance with significant savings garnered from reduced costs of processing and lower spending on line items.

2016 will be a challenging year for businesses given the slowdown in the global economy, and impact from last year’s slump. There is a need to optimize budgets and save costs wherever possible. In order to remain competitive, companies will consider automated T&E systems that will propel them forward with increased savings, faster processes, visibility across transactions, and greater business efficiency.   

Footnote:
* “Asia’s Journey to Optimized Travel and Expense Management” (2015 August), a Concur commissioned study conducted by CFO Innovation Asia on behalf of Concur.

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