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SAP Concur 2022 Predictions

SAP Concur Executives |

While the effects of the pandemic continued to be felt across the globe in 2021, SAP Concur is optimistic the new year will bring innovation and progress as we embark on the next chapter of the future of work – including business travel, digital transformation, sustainability, and employee experience initiatives.

As we reflect on 2021 trends, our global team of experts share perspectives and predictions for the coming year and how businesses can prepare for emerging opportunities across sectors. Here is what is top of mind for our executives as we look forward to 2022.

Say hello to smarter, speedier settlements

By now, it’s fair to assume that all the big gains to make the internal combustion engine more efficient have already taken place. There will always be a place for it in our world, but to make impactful change at this point a bigger pivot is needed, for example, to electric vehicles. I think about the automated expense reporting in a similar way. Technology providers can spend increasing amounts of resources to make incremental gains, but a big pivot is needed to usher in the next wave of efficiency and innovation. That big pivot is a shift to settlement.

Creating an expense report is never the ultimate goal – the goal is to settle payments for employee-initiated spend. While the expense report isn’t going away any time soon, more innovation will lead to bigger improvements in capturing, processing, and verifying expenses, driven by increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence. With this pivot we will shrink and evaporate expense reports, with a subset of expenses moving to automated settlement and skipping the traditional expense report process entirely.

-Mike Koetting, SAP Concur Solution Area Leader

Hybrid spend to match hybrid work

The dramatic rise in long-term remote work associated with the shift to a hybrid working model is creating the need for hybrid spend management. Flexibility and agility will be key in all aspects of work, including spend management, as employees split their time between the physical and remote office.

We’ll see the need for more nuanced budget discussions, policies and spend categories—ones that address the various in-office and remote expenses that employees will now incur, and companies will now allow, to run a business safely and efficiently. Data and technology will play a growing role in informing budgets and determining expense categorization to improve business decision-making, spend management, and overall organizational efficiency.

-A.G. Lambert, Chief Product Strategy Officer, SAP Concur

2022: The Year of the Bucket List Business Trip

“Revenge travel” was a hot topic in the leisure travel segment over the past year as travelers ventured out with a vengeance. In March, when vaccines started to become more available, traveler comfort levels rose with 94 percent of respondents from a TripIt customer survey saying they’d take a trip in 2021. Of those, one in four planned to take a bucket list trip. Now as business traveler confidence rises, leisure travelers won’t be the only ones eyeing a wish list getaway.

A Qualtrics and SAP Concur study found that seven in 10 business travelers (70 percent) expect to go back to traveling as much as they did before the pandemic. Separate research shows that nearly 90 percent plan to add personal vacation time to their business trips once they resume traveling for work. With business travel returning and employees eager to reconnect, we’ll see this trend permeate the workplace. This year, employees will look to tack on their bucket list trip to their business trip to take advantage of the time away from home.

-Jen Moyse, Senior Director of Product, TripIt from Concur

Embracing sustainability as business travel ramps up

Global business travel spend is expected to rebound 14 percent in 2021 to $754 billion. Simultaneously, record-breaking climate disasters in 2021 have underscored the need for more sustainable travel as we embrace a new era of work.

While more companies have built sustainability initiatives into their organizational framework and corporate travel programs, the bar is getting higher to make impactful changes and offset unavoidable carbon emissions. Businesses are under increasing scrutiny for misreporting carbon emissions or “green-washing” their sustainability metrics, which is exacerbated by non-standardized carbon footprint calculators and disparate sustainability reporting criteria.

We’re in the midst of a fundamental shift in how businesses respond to climate change. In the coming year, more comprehensive sustainability reporting will help guide organizations down a more eco-conscious path and enable responsible travel in the future.

-Brian Hace, Vice President, Global Travel Strategy, SAP Concur

Travel as the Great Resignation antidote

Workers are feeling burnt out and, in turn, are demanding more from their employers, leading to a record number of Americans quitting their jobs in search for better employment options. This “Great Resignation” has underscored the need for an increased focus on employee sentiment, experience, retention, and wellness in the workplace. More than ever, it’s imperative employers thoroughly understand the needs of their workers and adapt programs and policies to better support employees in the new business landscape—including opportunities to travel for business.

Business travelers are eager to get back on the road for work, according to SAP Concur research, but they have new expectations for increased flexibility, health and safety protocols, and wellness and mental health initiatives. To appease the 20 percent of business travelers that are willing to walk over their preferences not being met, organizations need to reevaluate and tailor policies with employee needs in mind.

As global travel rebounds and corporate travel programs restart, companies will refresh travel policies to create and encourage more flexibility, including opportunities for bleisure travel, providing business travelers a chance to add personal time onto their business trips or work from a vacation home/destination. Carving out additional time for rest and relaxation or a chance to explore local areas also will help relieve the tension and stress of business travelers’ usual routine. While business travel can be stressful, trust, transparency, and understanding between employers and business travelers on key priorities and expectations will be critical to mitigate potential risks of employee retention and keep employees satisfied.

-Ralph Colunga, Thought Leader, Travel and Expense Technology Solutions, SAP Concur

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