In its 2020 report The Mobile Economy, the GSMA states that in 2020, 5G will shift from hype to reality, but primarily for businesses – not consumers. In fact, the GMSA expects 5G will be the “first generation in the history of mobile to have a bigger impact on enterprise than consumers."
And no doubt, companies will be more likely to pay for 5G – especially if it helps them execute on strategic digital transformation initiatives. At SAP Concur, we’re on the front lines, helping companies continue their shift to the cloud across all areas of their business. From our perspective, as the adoption of 5G technology goes mainstream, it will lead to further streamlining of back-office workflows and processes – including those used for travel and expense (T&E) management.
Increasingly, T&E transformation is being viewed as an opportunity to reduce operational costs and boost employee productivity and job satisfaction. For example, business leaders see opportunities to cut costs by implementing new technologies that better enforce travel policies, proactively educate travelers about booking trips with preferred suppliers, give department managers a specific T&E budget that they need to manage, and provide a pre-trip system to approve or deny travel.
At the same time, companies understand that T&E management processes touch a vast percentage of their workforce – and the degree to which travel is intensely personal for their employees. Why? Because it takes them away from their homes, puts them at potential risk, and often requires paying for expenses using personal credit cards. At the same time, their overall experience is affected by their unique preferences for everything from airlines and seat selections to hotel and rental car choices and restaurants. So, making travel management processes more employee centered, convenient, and mobile – and accelerating time to reimbursement – can go a long way toward improving the overall employee experience, job satisfaction, and even retention.
Regardless of the employee-centered drivers for T&E transformation, IT executives will be more likely to endorse T&E transformation projects because they are “quick wins” for the cloud, as well as opportunities to give the business valuable, real-time analytics to drive better travel spend decisions. For example, by analyzing departmental and enterprise spend data in real time, executives and managers can plan better and align travel spend more closely with business goals. At the same time, spend data and analytics can be used drive smarter, faster decisions that improve business outcomes. 5G will make all of this even faster – in real time – for employees booking travel or filing an expense report using their mobile device.
So what does all of this mean for travel managers?
It’s time for you, as a travel manager, to provide essential leadership needed to build T&E management into your company’s financial digital transformation projects – and do it regardless of whether your business is adopting 5G now or in the future. Travel managers can help make this happen by:
- Including expense management in your conversations about financial transformation projects – especially finance management and IT leaders
- Positioning T&E digital transformation as a quick cloud win with broad business impact
- Partnering with finance leaders to ensure the longevity of the T&E manager role and boost its prominence within your company
- Embracing digital disruption as an opportunity to bring even more value your T&E manager role
- Working with finance to align travel expense data the general ledger data, which is used to formalize profit and loss statements. (Expense data can be used to highlight “invisible spend” and spend that is not within your corporate card program, as well as facilitate audits.)
- Helping other lines of business see the alignment of travel management responsibilities and expense management priorities – for example, to improve end-to-end procure-to-pay processes, reduce fraud, and detect and manage questionable spend
In addition, you can help by working with finance and IT to find a solution provider with a forward-looking vision, best practices, a partner ecosystem, and state-of-the-art cloud technologies to help you leap ahead to digitally transformed T&E management. The right solutions will enable you to capture reliable, consistent T&E data and use it to optimize spend and travel programs, keep employees safe, and reduce the stress and hassle of travel planning, booking, and expense reporting.
Looking ahead, the pace of innovation in the travel and employee spend space will continue to accelerate. To learn more about what to expect and what you can do as a travel manager to reduce operational costs and boost employee productivity and job satisfaction, read the new paper, “Travel and Expense Trends Impacting Your 2020 Bottom Line: Insights from an SAP® Concur® Solutions 2020 Travel and Expense Trends Webinar."