Welcome guest blogger, Andrew Bartolini, Vice President & Group Director at Aberdeen Group:
If I had a dollar for every article, report, or presentation that had a "Doing More with Less" theme created in the past 18 months, I would arguably be the 165th person on this new list published by Forbes last week. For many, "doing more..." has been and will continue to be the major theme of the "New Normal" economy; but for small business owners and leaders, this is nothing new - this is business as usual. In fact, having an ability to do more with less is how many entrepreneurs got their initial start.
My team at Aberdeen recently completed our annual research effort focused on T&E Expense Management* and the pressure to improve visibility into travel spend, ensure compliance, and manage the ER process efficiently is as daunting as ever. Over the past few years, we have seen generally strong adoption of process automation solutions by the largest enterprises and we believe this trend will continue over the next year. When our focus turns to the small enterprise (businesses with revenues less than $50 million), however, we see a stark contrast between the needs and priorities of this market and the actions that these enterprises are taking in response.
Consider: 85% of all small businesses have placed a priority on the importance of expense management, yet almost half have failed to put a program in place to manage their expenses. And when it comes to technology, only a small subset of this group leverage automation tools to streamline processes and gain visibility into their travel spend. In the past, technology adoption has, at times, been a significant undertaking, requiring the investment of scarce resources and capital. But things are changing rapidly in this market.
Over the past few years, the T&E expense management technology landscape has evolved rapidly, solutions linking the entire T&E lifecycle (from travel booking to reimbursement) have become the standard upon which investment decisions are based. Deployment models have advanced to a point where solutions can now be delivered on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis with low or no up-front fees. These trends play to the interests and benefits of the small business owner/traveler.
Against this backdrop, Concur has packaged and launched its first solution designed specifically for the small enterprise, Concur Breeze. As an analyst focused on the solutions in this space for many years, I have seen the challenges SMBs have in this area and I believe that the timing (assuming we avoid a second market collapse) is right for enterprise-level solutions that are accessible to the small enterprise marketplace.
So I plan on signing up for the free trial and putting the Concur Breeze offering through its paces. I will return in a few weeks with a more detailed post about its features and applicability to the small business owner/traveler.
Andrew Bartolini is the Vice President & Group Director of global supply management research at Aberdeen Group in Boston.
*Aberdeen published The State of Travel and Entertainment (T&E) Expense Management (available free with registration until 4/30/10) to help business leaders understand what strategies Best-in-Class enterprises are employing to drive efficiencies and create value in the management of their expenses. The report examines the use, experiences, and intentions of more than 175 enterprises and is designed to provide a comprehensive framework for business executives and other stakeholders to benchmark the effectiveness of their current expense management operations and identify actionable recommendations for improvement.