Editor’s Note: As we reflect on 2015 with our “best of” series, Ardent Partners would like to invite you to our Procurement 2016: Big Trends and Predictions webinar that we are hosting on Thursday, January 28 at 2 PM EST. This is a fantastic way to prepare for the year ahead. Register here!
Frequent visitors to CPO Rising will know that the complex category of business travel has increasingly become a bigger line-item at the average enterprise. In fact, the current business travel industry has not seen this level of growth since long before the economic downturn of last decade. As we move into a new year, what does the continued growth, and evolution, of this category truly mean for the typical company?
Unfortunately, the notions of “business travel management” and “expense management” are typically relegated to the back offices of companies across the globe. Even though travel budgets are increasing (industry estimates expect United States-based companies to spend nearly $310 billion on business travel in 2015, according to a recent USA Today article), many executives don’t often have the time (or the patience) to take a strategic viewpoint of these aspects.
What does 2015 hold for travel and expense management? A new era of intelligence. There’s no question that this complex category is growing and expanding across the average enterprise; the kicker is that, in order to maximize business travel investments and effectively drive value from expense management processes, companies must ensure that visibility is a prime focus. By truly understanding what travel and expense management means from ROI and effectiveness standpoints, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and other finance professionals will be able to transform a significant budgetary item into a source of forecasted intelligence.
Another interesting angle to the relative future of travel and expense management is the evolution of technology and automation in this space. Never before has there been such a variety of tools to manage all facets of business travel while also addressing full automation of expense management processes. The upcoming year for travel and expense management will feature:
- Mobile-optimized tools and applications to book travel (via a variety of alternative sources), create / submit / approve expenses, analyze data on-the-go and take business traveler convenience into a new generation (i.e., touchless hotel room check-in, etc.).
- A link between expense management automation and ePayables (accounts payable automation) for greater visibility into corporate spend.
- Intelligence-led initiatives to extract valuable information from business travel spend, supplier, and related data to effectively derive the true ROI and impact of business travel.
- The application of a consumer mindset to the world of business travel to enhance the overall business traveler experience.
- A blending of business travel and events management strategies to develop end-to-end programs that can effectively address all corporate meetings, events, and total travel.
Although some enterprises continue to treat travel and expense management as a back-office function, the time has come for the business world to realize the true strategic value of processes, data, intelligence, and capabilities related to this category. 2015 will be an exciting year for developments and continued evolution for travel and expense management.