What Else Happened During the Pandemic?

Significant travel and expense (T&E) management market developments that snuck up on everyone while we were otherwise occupied.

File this one under the “it’s no one’s fault” category.

When the pandemic struck, we were all taken by surprise. Then, when we all got sent home one night – and told to stay there indefinitely – every business everywhere had to figure out how to work from someplace that wasn’t the office.

So yes, we had our noses to the grindstone there for a while.

But now, as we begin to look up again (and actually venture back into the building), we can take a moment to look around at the other developments that occurred while we were on the couch. It’s important to note, however, that if it had been a regular old year in the history of the world, these “developments” would have made four-inch headlines across the travel and expense category. They were a big deal and still are.

 

As IDC sees it

In its worldwide travel and expense management software market shares 2020 report1 IDC lists, among volumes of other significant data, eight market-changing developments that are worthy of note. We’ll highlight them here and urge you to dive deeper into the impact they could have on your specific business.

  1. Things are uncertain outside the pandemic. This may not surprise anyone, but things are shaky all over. Regulations are changing, trade tensions are escalating, and storms are brewing. Literally. Another record-setting hurricane season set back ports, infrastructure, and supply chains all over the world. Combined, it’s a financial mine field for any business, and according to the report, a modern financial solution is “essential to weathering the storm of uncertainty.”
  2. The carbon argument got louder. The global shutdown had a bright spot: The world got cleaner. With fewer travelers on the road, rails, and in the sky, emissions went down. Going forward, business is going to have to meet employee, shareholder, and community expectations for sustainable travel.
  3. There’s more to pay for than travel. Before Covid-19, most employee expenses were travel related. During Covid-19, that shifted toward expenses like home-office equipment and software subscriptions. To complicate matters further, employees at every level are having to buy these supplies out of pocket (sans corporate card). It’s a tidal wave of new spend, and it isn’t always clear how to pick up the tab.
  4. You’re on mute. Another non-surprise here, but we all started meeting virtually. The fallout for finance departments will be finding ways to gauge whether actual travel is actually worth it – or if a particular meeting can take place online. Naturally, more attention will be given to travel justifications and pre-trip approvals.
  5. APIs are saving the day for CRM, HCM, and ERP systems. Here’s some more good news. Because data can be shared more easily and in more ways, travel booking systems can be more flexible and more efficient. So you’ll be able to do more with less.
  6. Airlines are getting personal. The adoption of new distribution capability (NDC) makes it possible for airlines to offer different perks – and potentially different rates – for specific companies and/or certain people in those companies. This means your booking tools will have to level up to keep up.
  7. Digital payments simplify spend control. Paper-based payments are going away, and their digital replacements give you real-time visibility and additional control over what goes out the door.
  8. Connected data speeds decision making. When your finance team has to exit out of one system and log into another to see, use, or move data around, it wastes time. Connecting those internal and external systems makes it easier to make decisions when time is of the essence.

It’s a lot to take in, and there’s a lot more where that came from. To find out where to start, contact SAP Concur–the 2020 market share leader in T&E management with over 50% of the world’s market share–to see how our solutions can help you take advantage of a shifting marketplace by changing how you manage T&E.

1. IDC presentation, Worldwide Travel and Expense Management Software Market Shares, 2020: Travel Down But New Opportunities Emerge, doc #US47980421, July 2021 

Loading next article