Companies around the world are aware of the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) on organizational processes. However, when it comes to actually deploying these technologies to transform the business, most companies are still in the early vision and planning stages. The good news is that you can use these technologies right now to transform your travel and expense processes, dramatically improving employee experiences as well as spending insight and control.
That’s a key takeaway in our latest installment of our intelligent enterprise Webcast series, Time Travel: How AI and Machine Learning Are Reimagining Travel and Expense Processes. The webcast is a lively, detailed discussion with business process and technology experts about the role of AI and ML in travel and expense innovation.
Read on for some additional takeaways from the webcast.
Understand today’s travel and expense priorities
As regions and countries around the world increase regulations and enforcement actions, effectively managing your travel and expense compliance obligations for your company and your employees is more important than ever. The risks are even greater for your traveling employees as more countries around the world are imposing stricter immigration and taxation rules, such as having to file a foreign tax return for a single business trip.
Whether you are sending your best experts overseas to troubleshoot a critical project or sending your C-level executive abroad to close a critical, time-sensitive deal, getting the right people in place at the right time is a crucial mission for travel and expense managers. Managers need to identify all traveling employees as early as possible to better anticipate any potential travel hiccups that can delay the trip or require more travel spend. Managers also need to quickly analyze travel and employee data from a variety of sources to locate and assist the traveling employees in an emergency.
Balance compliance, safety, and productivity needs
This is where spending solutions that take advantage of AI and ML technologies are making a difference across leading companies. These solutions connect to virtually any other system inside or outside the organization to capture and analyze all relevant travel and expense data, so you can:
- Gain transparency into the past, present, and future movements of traveling employees
- Get insight into hidden risks, issues, and implications arising from business travel
- Devise procedures based on past performance to better mitigate future risk
- Identify and prevent noncompliant travel and expense practices before they occur
- Increase employee adoption of compliant practices to eliminate noncompliant behavior
The Webcast discussion went into greater detail about how AI- and ML-enabled solutions are helping companies achieve the objectives above.
Make travel and expense easy for employees
What does easy travel and expense really mean for your employees? It means travel and expense tasks that are highly intuitive and can be completed with a minimal number of clicks and keystrokes. It means employees no longer need to enter travel and expense information more than once, are not forced into using a single source for travel booking, and don’t get locked into travel plans that can’t be changed last minute.
From a manager’s perspective, the approval experience should be similarly intuitive and convenient. However, it’s important that managers are not rushing or “rubber stamping” noncompliant spending. It also means managers only have to handle exceptional cases, because your travel, expense, and invoice solutions are intelligent enough to review, verify, and approve the vast majority of cases.
Recognize that making it easy is not always easy
It takes a combination of intelligent technologies and intelligent integration to bring the intelligent enterprise to life. You need to securely share data with third-party systems, and use AI and ML technologies to pull together and analyze data from different sources to make travel and expense transactions easy and compliant.
You also have to grow your integrated business network. It needs to be large enough to make sure that wherever your traveling employees go and spend, your systems are capturing that spending data. That way, you never lose spend visibility and your employees won’t have to change their preferred choices for travel spend.
Create the intelligent enterprise with proven solutions
Webcast participants noted that AI- and ML-enabled solutions for intelligent travel, expense, and invoice management are available right now from SAP. Whether it’s automating expense entry or anticipating tax liability, SAP Concur solutions can deliver:
- Integrated travel, expense, and invoice management tools – providing a complete and timely view of employee spend and spotting noncompliant spending before it negatively impacts the company.
- Dynamic, connected network of 180 applications, partners, and suppliers – sharing spending data in real time to simplify experiences for employees and deliver actionable insights for the organization.
- Improved compliance and employee safety – leveraging data and AI algorithms to locate and support traveling employees if they are in at-risk situations.
Think beyond the expense report
Webcast participants urge companies to improve travel and expense processes in a more strategic and holistic way. Instead of just addressing travel and expense-related risks and spend performance, think about how you can minimize risk and maximize spend across the rest of the organization.
Watch the webcast to learn more about how your company can get there. You can also download our e-book How Can Finance Leaders Deliver Intelligence Across the Business? to learn the five steps you can take right now to bring new levels of business acumen across your organization.