Last week, we had the opportunity to meet with some of our customers to celebrate their successes, and discuss the challenges they face, at our annual event, SAP Concur Fusion. More than 3,200 customers, partners and SAP Concur employees joined us in San Diego for four days of networking, learning sessions and micro-forums. Among the community of attendees, we had travel and finance leaders from a global cross-section of businesses that make our global economy run, nonprofits that lift up those in need, and members of the public sector who provide services we all depend on. Each of these organizations has a unique purpose, and our passion, along with a global ecosystem of partners, is to help them bring it to life. Together, we shared best practices, saw fresh innovations, made new connections, and learned from each other.
For me, one of the many highlights of Fusion is the opportunity to recognize a select group of best-run organizations pushing the boundaries of travel, expense and invoice solutions to deliver a meaningful impact on their employees, their business, and their communities.
One of the winners this year is Alteryx, which helps companies turn their data into actionable insights that improve business results. Alteryx has eliminated manual processes and applied analytics to travel and expenses, to get time back to focus on what matters most.
We also recognized, Discovery, whose mission is to inspire, inform and entertain. Discovery uses Concur Expense and TripLink to connect travel and expense into one solution. They also integrate Uber and Airbnb to allow employees to book directly with suppliers while staying in policy, and gain full visibility into spending.
Another Innovation Award winner, George Washington University, aspires to change the world through the students it educates and the research it conducts. They have moved from a paper-based system to Concur Expense to provide improved controls and traceability. As a parent, remarks from Donna Ginter, GWU’s Executive Director of Procurement and Travel Services (pictured below with SAP Concur's Jim Lucier), really hit home for me. She talked about the worries we have about the safety of our kids when they leave for college, both when they are living on campus and going on international trips as part of their education. George Washington University uses Concur Locate to protect their students’ safety.
I also want to congratulate NEC and RED, two other market leaders who received Innovation Awards. Please take a moment to learn how NEC and RED are using technology to streamline their travel, expense and invoices processes, and about the other Innovation Award winners, in a blog by Kim Albrecht, our Chief Marketing Officer.
For me, Fusion is also an opportunity to pause and reflect on where we’ve been, and more important, where we’re going. The last several years have been a time of incredible growth for us. In fact, we’ve grown more over the last 48 months than we did in the previous 21 years. We’re going to accelerate that expansion by empowering our customers to focus more on their most valuable and strategic work, so they can become what we call “best-run organizations.”
As Kim Albrecht said at Fusion, best-run organizations drive more automation and integration into travel, expense and invoice processes. As a result, they move beyond tedious tasks and work smarter. Their employees get more done while the overall organization maintains better control of spending.
To help our customers get there in 2019 and beyond, we have doubled-down on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate some of the tasks that take them away from serving customers and growing their operations. From being able to read your handwriting on receipts, to allowing you to use AI to audit 100 percent of expense reports, we’ve already made a lot of progress. We’re even more excited about the future, and what we’ll do to build on that success.
These conversations about AI and machine learning are critically important, as they continue to change the way business is conducted around the world. But as our closing speaker, Poetic Voice CEO and Founder Sekou Andrews (pictured right) said, “We are more than our screens and text and data.” That’s why our partners and customers joined us at Fusion in packing 2,000 backpacks of school supplies for kids who attend Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego. It was a great reminder that sometimes technology isn’t the most important element in achieving an organization’s purpose – it’s a human connection. That was a great message to take with us, as we returned home to our friends and families, and considered how we build on the learnings from SAP Concur Fusion for the remainder of the year and beyond.