If you can’t easily bring travel, expense, and invoice spending data together from across categories for a single, near-real-time view without cobbling together reports from different systems – then yes, governments likely have better visibility into at least some areas of employee spending than you do.
And yes, this should concern you. Because as business has become more digital and real time, your employees are leaving a rich digital exhaust behind them. Every travel reservation, expense charged, and product and service they buy from vendors who send your business an invoice results in a digital data trail that governments are capturing, storing, and analyzing. They’ve invested in systems that bring it all together in one place so they can turn it into insights about your company and staff.
These data-driven insights can and will be used against your business. As noted in a recent interview with experts from EY and Goldman Sachs, governments around the world are rapidly analyzing this data to generate higher revenues. Taxes on traditional brick-and-mortar companies are falling in the age of digital business, so they’ve needed to get smart and modernize how they gather data, tax, and enforce laws. For example, in the United States today, state governments are pulling data and sharing it liberally with other states to ensure that all transactions are taxed properly, laws are followed, and noncompliance fines are issued, where appropriate. And in foreign markets, 34 countries are already engaged in BEPS – base erosion and profit sharing – which is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) way of tracking spend across country lines.
What’s their goal? To know who is working where and when; what employees spend while traveling; how to maximize tax collection and where there’s noncompliance; and more – all to ensure government coffers are full. They are experts at aggregating and understanding spending, and they use this information to know what companies corporate travelers work for, which ones are in or out of compliance, whether fines are due and how much, what taxes are due based on this spending data, and more. In one case, an executive of a large firm was traveling internationally and was held by airport security because the company he worked for had unpaid taxes to this country. Of course, the situation was resolved, but meanwhile, this employee was held in detention for five days.
If your business is like most, you likely have poorer or delayed visibility relative to many state and federal governments today. Typically, spending is spread out across companies – with key spending categories such as direct and indirect, services and external workforce, and travel and expense managed by different teams. At the same time, spending for many categories is increasingly decentralized, as more employees across businesses are empowered to buy what they need to get their work done.
Addressing this fragmentation requires total control of each category of spending as well as a broader, comprehensive way to orchestrate spending and policy across categories. But traditional solutions can’t do both. Certainly, each category of spend – from travel and expenses, to direct and indirect, to consultants, contractors, and an extended workforce – has unique nuances that require specific workflow, functionality, and processes. But tackling broader business issues and advising employees about purchases before it’s too late requires being able to work across categories. Only with full transparency into spend, every time money is spent, can companies gain better control. This means all of your systems have to communicate so that all spend data comes together quickly and gives business leaders the visibility to make informed decisions and respond to the rapid pace of change.
At SAP Concur solutions, we call this the Intelligent Spend Management concept. It’s the key to ensuring that spending moves the entire business forward and people at all levels can make better spend decisions before it’s too late. Deeper, real-time information is transformative, enabling total control of each category of spending as well as broader orchestration of spending and policy across categories. Intelligent Spend Management also allows your business leaders to strike the delicate balance of optimizing spend while increasing business agility and minimizing business and employee risk.
Want to learn more? Watch a video from the 2019 SAPPHIRE NOW conference with Jim Lucier, president of North America and chief services officer at SAP Concur, to learn about SAP’s vision for intelligent spend management, and hear from EY and Goldman Sachs about their journey to achieve world-class spend management. And download the latest paper from SAP Concur: Intelligent Spend Management: Tackling the complexities of modern spend management.