Concur: Bringing Travel And Expense Management into the Digital Age

concurThis article is the second in a five-part series profiling companies leading the field in disruptive technology
Anyone who’s done enough can attest that business travel can often be a pain, but especially around the reporting and management of travel and expenses (T&E). Traditionally employees become bogged down for hours with the physical paperwork, often having to input into multiple systems and are prone to error. Approvals and payment then take time, adding to frustration. From a business perspective, T&E costs are the second most difficult operating expense line item for businesses to control—And they can be high, between 8 and 12 per cent of an average organization’s budget.

Shouldn’t all this be paperless? How isn’t this automated? Cloud-based? Why isn’t there a mobile app? It’s an area ripe for disruptive improvement.

Enter Concur, whose disruptive T&E software embraces mobility and automation to give businesses greater control and real-time visibility, while allowing employees to save time and stay focused on their jobs and not paperwork. Concur helps CFOs and CIOs bridge the gap between technology and finance.

This article is the second in a five-part series that will profile various companies leading the field in disruptive technology.

Streamlined

Rather than treating T&E separately Concur integrates and streamlines the expenses. Employees can book travel from a smartphone or browser and itineraries and charges are automatically, accurately tracked. Using a mobile app everything can be tracked in real-time. In the end, the expense report is nearly complete on return and the auditing and approval process is similarly sped up.

In Q3 of this year, a Concur app will be available in the MS Office Marketplace. This will mean being able to book travel directly from one’s Outlook calendar meeting and managing expenses directly from his or her inbox.

Automate

Through automation, Concur aims to solve the 65 per cent of a company’s budget that resides in T&E and accounts payable. Put into action, Concur claims it can reduce the cost of an expense report from $20 to just $9 and an invoice report from $22 to a mere $5. Looking for still more ground-breaking disruption? Concur also says it can reduce the time to process an invoice from 14 days to just three days, and an expense report from an hour to just 12 minutes.

Connected

The sharing economy is itself reshaping business travel. Businesses are being forced to come to grips with how start-ups like Air B&B and Uber are to be handled. Experts say traditional business travel is about relationships, pre-arranged volume rates negotiated between travel managers and providers.

What happens when a professional has become used—as many professionals have—to tapping on Uber when they need a ride? What about when an Air B&B can provide a greater savings than the existing volume discount.

In the case of Concur, they have helped to ease some of the challenge associated with the sharing economy by including companies like Air B&B and Uber in their large ecosystem of connected vendors, which also includes Air Canada, Starbucks and more.

Misconceptions

As with any disruptive technology there are always a few misconceptions around its need or what it does. Here are just a few:

“I already have an ERP.”

Concur—which was acquired by SAP in 2014—complements and integrates with almost every ERP/CRM on the market by improving the automation and workflow approvals.

“I’m an SMB and can’t afford this.”

Concur is cloud-based and licensing is determined by the number of expense and invoice reports, not user seats, making it appropriate for even SMBs to use this enterprise-grade solution for their travel-related expenses.

“Why pay for automation when Excel spreadsheets are free.”

Concur’s biggest competition is the Excel spreadsheet; however, this comes at a cost.Time, labour, compliance and inaccuracy adds up, and it is these costs that Concur cuts.

Future

Looking ahead, Concur’s next big disruptive opportunity lies with Concur Invoice: Accounts Payable Automation, which represents another 55 per cent of a company’s spend. Automating accounts payable allows a company to get full visibility into its spend. While organizations get insight into how employees are spending money, finance teams can time vendor payments and more accurately forecast and manage cash flow.

Connect with Concur to learn more about how they’re disrupting the T&E industry, and stay tuned for part three in our series on disruptive technologies.

About Tania Stadnik

Tania is an resourceful marketing communications expert with over 15 years of B2B and B2C experience. She has a wealth of knowledge in brand development, integrated marketing, strategy, digital and marketing ROI.